3 Somatic Practices to Reclaim the Inner Mother
In self-development land, it is so common to hear of our inner child or inner critic. What we don’t often speak of, is the rest of the world of inner somethings... our family constellation of archetypes living within our psyches. We All have an Inner Mother, Father, Child, Elder, Lover, Goddess, Warrior, Fool- no matter our age, gender, size or life path.
The Inner Mother is the aspect of our being that will hold our whole self always in unconditional love. She will scoop up those fragments of our spirit that society has taught us to reject, as her eyes share a reflection of the pure perfection she sees. She will rock our shadows into the light and sing our shame into liberation, as she hums our hearts a lullaby, ever so wholesome and sweet. In our every breath, she shows us her open arms- an always present safe nest to nestle into, after a long day of tiresome tests and grey skies.
Repression of the Inner Mother
To be so empowered as to parent and soothe our own inner child, is not economically beneficial within our consumerist culture. It is a sad reality that such disempowerment is often utilized as a means to a profitable end within western culture. This is why we are taught to look anywhere other than inwards for advice, validation, comfort, love. Our innate instinct to parent ourselves, is crushed by societies emphasis on external authority figures and normalized expectations to ‘ask someone qualified, seek an expert’. The repression of the Inner Mother has carved a hole in the heart of the collective, leaving a loss that often leads to unfelt grief, disempowerment or addiction. Be it doctors, google, therapists, food, sex, Instagram, drugs... so many are left to reach outward for Inner-Mother-fillers that will undoubtedly lack in her Love.
How do we reclaim the Inner Mother within our psyches and hearts?
How do we remember the Inner Mother as a culture and collective?
How do we rediscover our capacity to parent ourselves so lovingly, no matter what our upbringing was?
Practice 1: Self-Acceptance
The Inner Mother brings the medicine of unconditional acceptance, which is an essential thing to reclaim within this world that so emphasizes self-growth (medicine of the Inner Father). To be clear, none of this is about a pendulum swing from one archetype to the other, it is about creating a more holistic and harmonious life, and to claim the endless world of wisdom-keepers that live within, existing to guide and propel us.
Self-acceptance teaches us to embrace every inch of ourselves As We Are Now. Rather than running to the self-help section of the nearest book store in hopes of big transformation, self-acceptance asks us to slow down and tune into breath. To pause and rub our bellies with nurturing appreciation. This aspect of the Inner Mother (I.M) envelops us in yin-gentleness, offering salve for our yang-dominant, always-do-more culture. Deficiency of the I.M’s heart within, can express as healing that morphs into self-abuse, judgement, breath-constricting pressure, and excessive, often punishing discipline. The I.M reminds us to marvel at all that already Is, she reminds us to hold our already-birthed creations in gratitude and to nestle ourselves into the Now. She is the savasana at the end of a yoga class and a warm bed at the end of the day. Without her, integration would be impossible and burnout would be inevitable.
Try this somatic practice...
Envision and then embody a scale. Hold your left hand (your feminine side) out, representing self-acceptance and the Inner Mother. Hold your right hand (your masculine side) out, representing self-growth and the Inner Father.
Close your eyes and practice saying words, phrases, actions, ideas out loud. As you speak, give your body time and space to respond. Allow your scale to tilt and shift, responding somatically to your voice.
Write down or simply notice the themes that invited in more balance.
Practice 2: The Learning Zone
As we experienced in the practice above, the IM, with her love balanced by the Inner Father, teaches us to find that sweet spot of equal parts effort and ease. In balance, she teaches us to honour our limits while simultaneously, braving in comfort zone expansion. Without her influence, practices made to transform wounds, would end up re-traumatizing, rather than truly propelling our healing.
Try this somatic practice...
Actually embodying your comfort zone, allow yourself to begin by standing in a neutral mountain pose. Long spine, hands by your side, weight even between your feet.
Close your eyes and very, very slowly allow yourself to bring your hands out, eventually finding your branches. Making yourself as big as you can possibly be.
Still moving very slowwwwwly, bring your hands back in, eventually finding a contracted position, your arms crossed over your chest. Making yourself as small and crouched over as you can possibly be.
Move between these 2 positions and allow every picture along the way to become a point on this spectrum that is your comfort zone. Notice how you feel in different positions, notice how your breath shifts. See what it’s like to pause in certain places or to open your eyes, perhaps looking in a mirror or trying this in front of a partner.
Allow yourself to pause and stand firm in your sweet spot once you find it: honouring your limits while playing with expanding them. Be aware that your learning zone sweet spot is not a fixed point and will change from day to day, perhaps even moment to moment.
Practice 3: Shadow-Loving Mama
Despite the shame we have been fed around steady slowness and gentle growth, the IM is by no means weak. She, like the Hindu Goddess Durga, is the one who will stand in front of her loved ones as fierce protector, calling for their safety and honour. Looking to the ultimate mother- earth- we can see examples of this all throughout her animal queendom. For instance, if you spot a baby black bear in the bushes, you can expect to find his Mama close by, standing heart-strong and more than ready to protect her cubs should a threat arise.
Know that the IM will fiercely love and protect all aspects of her babes, despite societal pressures that may encourage otherwise. Without a moment’s hesitation, she will hold all of their shadow in the light, for she knows that nurturance- not scolding- is the sort of stuff to inspire soul nourishment and highest self fruition.
Try this somatic practice...
Close your eyes and tune inwards to see what aspects of yourself are present right now. What qualities, emotions, and character traits. Notice the ones that you have been taught to reject, resent or resist.
Choosing one to work with at a time. Allow yourself to literally hold this aspect in your hands and try rocking it with reassurance. Play inner house and become a mama to your shadow babes.
Affirm: I love my ________ (whatever trait you are working with). Breathe into it and feel the tension dissolve. Acknowledge how this trait may be an attempt at gaining more love and affection.
Singing Her Home
It is clear to me, that the Inner Mother is essential salve for self-embrace within this culture of normalized not-enoughness. The I.M breathes pride on all of the fragments we have neglected and left in the dark. May it be known that this archetype transcends gender and has little do with our upbringing or nuclear familial experience. If your own mother did not embody such unconditionally, then you can find a role model and teacher for this archetype within Mother Earth herself. For Pachamama is the ultimate mother, forever and always holding, supporting, and protecting us all with unconditional love.
May we learn to hold ourselves as the Mother holds us all.