This is to the ones who’ve lost their mothers: Emotionally, physically, or both. And, to the ones who stepped up, stepped in, and raised us to be the people we are.
There are mothers who birth us. There are mothers who neglect us, abandon, and reject us. The ones we feel misunderstood by. And the ones we ache for.
Then, there are mothers who raise us. Give birth to the people we are. They become our safe harbours, our love source, and our protectors. The ones that challenge us lovingly, and mentor us.
Sometimes the deep loss and the aching mother wound(s) prevent us from seeing the riches of the connections with our other mother figures.
With Mother’s Day in mind, our intention this week is to honour the womxn who raised you and uplifted you, and to heal the wounds of the young part(s) of you that ache. Try one (or more) of these, as you see fit.
Before you begin
Here are some guidelines, tips, and safety instructions that are important to follow
- Find a quiet space and settle into it. Get comfortable. Center your breath at a steady, slower, pace.
- You can do these exercises with your eyes open, closed or partially closed. If your eyes aren’t closed, find a neutral spot ahead of you in your space that’s not distracting, and focus your eye gaze on it.
- Optional: you may use the Butterfly Hug. Here, we are using it in a very very slow steady way. This is called installation. Installation is about strengthening the association between something in your mind and how it feels in your body by tapping into the power of our brains (Amazing, right?!)
- Sometimes distress seeps in with these exercises, or it’s hard to focus or concentrate. If you lose focus, bring yourself back to your breath, and try again. If distress keeps seeping in, discontinue the exercise, and return to your anchoring breath (described below). It may not be the right timing for you, and that’s ok!
- Sometimes the intense reaction you have can feel like relief, release, openness, and lightness (aka it’s cathartic). If that’s the case, keep going. If the intensity feels upsetting, distressing, or overwhelming (aka feeling off-balance), please discontinue, and return to your anchoring breath.
- To return to your anchoring breath: Inhale and mentally or outwardly say “I’m inhaling”, then exhale and again internally or outwardly say “I’m exhaling”. Repeat till you feel settled down or the intensity of the distress has lowered (aka subjectively, out of 10, it feels like a level 3 or lower for you).
Here’s a video that demonstrates how to do the Butterfly Hug:
For the mothers we carry with us on the inside
( Your mother/mother figure as your calm/safe person)
1- Think of qualities your mother figure represents to you. It can be love, security, trust, confidence, protection, courage, audacity, joy, and warmth. The choices are endless. Focus on the top 3 that stand out to you the most. (Hint: these may be what you need today!)
2- Bring to mind your mother figure. Visualize the picture in as many details as you can in a way that aligns with the top 3 qualities you thought of: What does this person sound like? What do they look like? Smell like? Feel like (with/on your skin)? Use all of your senses to create a vivid picture. Perhaps they're smiling at you, giving you a hug, standing by, enwrapping you, or laughing with you. Go with what comes up organically for you and the image that resonates.
3- If you have a hard time visualizing, you can: use an actual picture you have, or use your felt sense of your mother figure (the feeling in your body when you think of your mother).
4- Hold these qualities in your mind along with the image and do the butterfly hug (very slow, short sets of 6 - 12). If you don’t use the butterfly hug, keep your attention and focus on the visual imagery along with the qualities, and continue breathing and checking in with your body.
5- Pause: observe your body. How does it feel? If the positive qualities are stronger or deeper, then do 2 or 3 more rounds. Checking in after every round if the positive qualities are stronger or deeper. You can do a total of 3 - 5 rounds of this.
6- Close the exercise by taking a moment to let everything settle in, and when you’re ready, bring movement back to your body (you can wiggle your fingers or toes, or move slowly or stretch slightly), and open your eyes (if they were closed). Then, bring your focus to how your body feels on the surface you’re sitting on. Look at colours or items in your environment to connect back to your physical environment.
For you, to help heal the parts of you that ache from losses, to honour the child in you who might be missing their mama (Attending to your mother wound)
1- Visualize a space that feels calm and relatively safe. A space where no harm can come to you. It can be real or imagined.
If it’s hard to visualize, feel free to use an actual picture that evokes these feelings for you. Perhaps it’s a beautiful place you’ve always wanted to visit. A friend of mine visualizes themselves on top of a mountain with Buddha. My personal safe sanctuary is a moment in time when I visited Jasper National Park in Alberta several years ago and felt profound inner peace at sunset during that visit. I still remember the colours of the water, the mountains, the gorgeous sky, and the feeling of the cool breeze on my skin.
2- Once you notice feeling very relaxed in your body, and you can see yourself in the space as you are presently (current age/adult self), you can invite your child self to this space.
3- The age of the child-self can vary. The most common age that comes up for people is usually between 3 to 5 years old. If it’s different for you, that’s ok. That may be the part of you that’s ready to do this.
4- When you feel internally ready here (your body will tell you, it will feel ready and willing), you can speak loving, kind words, to this little version of yourself. Here are some examples:
- I love you
- I protect you now
- I keep you safe
- I hear you
- I see you
- I honour you
- Your innocence is important to me
- I give you permission to be free
- You’re allowed to rest and play
- You’re the love of my life
The right words for you will surface.
5- Pay attention to your body as you do so. If the positive feelings are present and strong, you can increase their strength by doing a few rounds of the butterfly hug. Make sure to pause, check in with your body after each round, and follow the safety instructions above.
6- Close the exercise by taking a moment to let everything settle in, and when you’re ready, bring movement back to your body (you can wiggle your fingers or toes), open your eyes (if they were closed), bring your focus to how your body feels on the surface you’re sitting on. Look at colours or items in your environment to connect back to your physical environment.
These exercises can get intense. Make sure the timing is right for you. You can also take the next few hours afterwards to journal about your experience or take note of what stood out for you.
Some questions that can help guide you with this:
- What have these qualities taught me about myself? Or What do they mean about me?
- How do these qualities show up in my life today?
- What are some ways I can continue to honour the child part of me?
I hope on this Mothers’ Day, these exercises can help you remember that although some of your mothers have hurt you, the wounds don’t have to remain open. And healing them can help you re-enter the world, and connect even deeper to the mothers who uplift you, love you, and support you.