Yoga Retreat
Mother As First Guru ( By Swami Gurupremananda Saraswati
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eroded by "white man's laws" and the disrespect of modern culture.
   However one traditional culture stands out as being even more universally accepted today than ever before - and that is yoga. I believe a most accessible and relevant way to help reintroduce such tradition, and to bring women back to their rightfully respected place, is through the ancient methods of yoga and tantra.
   Many mothers unfortunately do flounder or fail in their duty of care at some stage during their life, either through ignorance, neglect, familial or social circumstances, a by-product of their own maternal neglect or sometimes just an unrecognised incompatibility with the vocation of parenthood. This last condition, I believe is possibly the greatest cause of many broken homes and many neglected children. Untermi-nated accidental pregnancies (read unplanned and sometimes unwanted children) along with the popular expectation that most women want to "get married and have babies" have led to an enormous number of women (often very young and inexperienced) being the mothers they didn't want to be. Simply having a womb does not necessarily qualify one to be a good mother, or even a mother at all.
Whilst some women have consciously chosen not to have children, others have accidentally not had children. These are the professional women who, in their late 30's and even 40's, realise - "Oh my God. I forgot to have a baby". These are the ones filling up the IVF clinics in search of their lost fertility. Whilst many women have consciously chosen their motherhood, many have had it accidentally or reluctantly thrust upon them. The outcome of the latter frequently leaves them battling not only with themselves but also with their children. Unplanned motherhood frequently equates with unprepared motherhood or even unwanted motherhood. I consider this to be one of the major causes for the loss of traditional motherhood skills and a lessening of the "knowledge base" amongst mothers today.
   Another reason for the loss of motherhood knowledge is termed "the conspiracy of silence" amongst women, both as peers and from mother to daughter. Women writers are breaking the silence, some of them telling how bad, uncom-fortable, lonely, mind bending, exploited and miserable modern day motherhood can be, and they are angry that no-one told them. Due to many personal and social constraints, many mothers did not, and still do not, seem able to clearly communicate with their daughters just what all this baby stuff is about until they are already too deeply into it. And it is true that all women must

be more honest with each other about the realities of birthing and mothering.
   But the blame cannot lie totally with our mothers or those around us who did not tell all. What of the expectations of today's women? Did women of previous generations have a less sore perineum than today, or did they just more readily accept it as one small part of giving birth? Was a day in the life of a housewife with two kids who had a couple of part-time (unpaid) jobs in the community really any more or less miserable than that same role today? I doubt it. I think the women of the last few generations have a lot of self-assessment to do about their attitudes to motherhood and much exploration to do in search of the hidden elements within mothering which could provide more pleasure and purpose than is presently acknowledged. It seems to me that so few, of both the analysts and their subjects, are going beneath the surface of the issues to address why women today, so capable in so many other areas of their lives, sense - or in fact know - that they are making such a hash of motherhood.
   The knowledge women need is not solely the practical skills, but equally importantly, the spiritual skills I have been addressing so far. We would not let untrained drivers onto the roads, nor untrained pilots into aircraft and yet, as a society and as parents, we fail to properly train our daughters to be well prepared and capable mothers in all the aspects which motherhood involves. There is also the misguided faith that women will somehow "just work it out", but surely the confusion surrounding motherhood is testimony that women aren't able to just work it out anymore. Something is missing, but rather than it being something outside of ourselves, I see it as simply a missing cog in the perception of one's role as a mother.
   Typically as a young woman begins going through the experiences of adolescence, particularly if her relationship with her mother is not strong, she seeks counsel from those she perceives as more knowledgeable than herself. Often her mother's advice and knowledge is discarded as irrelevant and old fashioned. Worse still some girls may see their mother as hypocritical, particularly if the adult behaviour does not appear to the child to match the advice. Peer pressure is at its most intense and is fuelled by a supply of glossy magazines and unattainable images of femininity. Mothers who are still repressed about their own sexuality are unable to offer real guidance to their daughters and will, through direct or indirect means, try to stifle the emerging sexuality of these young women. Such a

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The complete ‘Mother As First Guru’ Set also contains Book 2 + 2 audio cds. Book 2 relating to comprehensive Yoga Practices as well as the Audio Instructional practices (2 cd set) are only available with your purchase and is NOT available on the Reading Room.

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