Inspiring Peace – Conversations with Wise Women

{The image above was drawn by my eight year old, Annie. It is a picture of me doing yoga, looking very peaceful and chic with my mani and pedi. Thank you Roxanne Gordon at Rogo Graphics Inc for the graphic design on Annie’s artwork. I love it.}

Hi gorgeous ones!

Welcome to the Inspiring Peace Series. Showcasing mothers all over the world who live by the philosophy of creating peace in the world by parenting from the heart, in a way that adds love to the world. Sounds good?

Today we meet the gorgeous Katie from obaitori.com.

KatieHinshelwood

  • What was the catalyst that inspired you into mothering the way that you do?

Mothering doesn’t come naturally to me. I‘ve had to learn how to parent peacefully. When I was six my mother used to take her yoga mat and go out to class for a couple of hours. She would return radiant and tell us all the things she had learnt. I observed her endless compassionate nature and wanted to use the same parenting/life style for my children. My personality is far fierier than my mother’s and I needed/need yoga. I need to work on patience, tolerance and understanding constantly, every-day. That is why I practice yoga. I observed my mother and other wise women like a hawk. I was always and still am trying to pick up exactly what those magical qualities are in a person of peace. It was clear I needed more focus and training. My life and studies turned to human behaviour, spirituality, yoga, Buddhism, Montessori and a Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood. At the education institute where I studied the main areas of child development did not include the development of the spirit. I don’t think that spirituality is something that should be left to chance. I think it should be systematically taught and imbibed by the child. To make up for this short-coming I did a thesis on the Spiritual Development of the Child. The main book I recommend to people is, “The Tibetan Art of Parenting” Anne Hubbell-Maiden. It covers the pre-conception spiritual development of the child up to adult-hood. What is really great about this book is that it is filled with practical application of things to do in everyday life. For my beliefs this all made sense.

  • If you could tell a new mother just one thing that would make her journey of parenting more joyful, what would it be?

Listen to everyone, read all the books you like. Ultimately learn to listen to your intuition and in the end do what suits you, your individual child and your family.

I try not to be the person who does it all. People need to feel like they belong, are part of something, especially in a family. I used to have everything done when my husband got home but I think he was beginning to feel a bit useless. Now I leave things for him to do. I smile at him warmly when he is doing those jobs. I stay connected with the fun loving, spontaneous, joyful young girl in me and greet her every morning. Do what makes you happy.

  • How do you honour your femininity as a mother?

I try to teach most things through example. I’m a very independent person and that can have particular outcomes; firstly I want to control and secondly I want it done well and that leads to exhaustion because I stupidly end up doing it all myself. Over the years I have learnt how to be independent and vulnerable at the same time. I’ve tried to stop or limit my need to control things at home, situations, people, events. When I remember I surrender most things to God. I practice vulnerability especially with my husband. I bare my tender feelings rather than cover them up with anger. “Vulnerability is not the same as weakess – it actually takes more strength and courage to risk emotionally than it does to stay defended.” The Surrendered Wife, Laura Doyle. I worship the moon with asana, Chandra namaskar and always know where the moon is during her cycle. I sing to the Mother, Durga, Lakshmi, Mary, Saraswati. In yoga this form of worship is not singing to an entity somewhere ‘up there’ but invoking those qualities within yourself. The education and culture of Saraswati, the grace and calmness of Mary, the strength and fierceness of Durga, the abundance of wealth and health of Lakshmi. Buddhism and Yoga are matriarchal lifestyles. They worship the mother. It is good that my children are experiencing this in their young lives. I also do odd and funny things like dressing like Radha, Krishna’s partner and I always put lipstick on in the car before I drive : ) Always have fun. Be joyful and child like.

  • What are your non negotiables for your own self care?

I look after myself first so I can give unconditionally to others. In very practical terms if I wake at night I think to check on the children but first I will slip on my dressing gown and slippers, go to the bathroom and have a sip of water. When I look in on the children and if someone needs help or extra time for a cuddle I can give it to them. I’m not lying there freezing and desperate for the toilet. I’m there.

I do a lot of early preparation so the house is organised and ready. I find that forethought helps a great deal. I like to plan meticulously because then I feel calm, content in knowing that I’ve covered all the bases. It’s a form of self-preservation. Taking time out is non-negotiable. Once a month I meet my friend, we drive to Sydney for a Buddhist meeting. It lasts for an hour and then we go to lunch, which lasts for three. I think there is great wisdom in talking to others, particularly people in a similar situation. It’s the cheapest form of therapy and people need people. Keep good company.

  • What is one practical thing you do on a daily basis to make your daily life run more smoothly?

I have a commitment to personal sadhana – spiritual practice. It gives me strength, makes me less frustrated, gives me peace and harmony. I get up before dawn, bath, light a candle, chant om three times, focus on the breath, chant three other mantras, practice asana, pranayama and Antar Mouna. This is me filling up at the petrol station. My body doesn’t go around the day very well without it. It breaks down and has tantrums. Yoga Nidra is a mother’s blessing. A 30 minute deep relaxation before lunch, equivalent to 3 hours sleep is what gets me through the hard part of the day which for me is 6-9pm. Some days when I feel frazzled or get that jumpy feeling when there is a sudden noise; perhaps a wail from a child, I take a big calcium/magnesium tablet with milk at night time. It soothes the central nervous system and makes it strong.

General practical children things are; a warm smile with a lovingly long look at each child every morning, orange oil in the diffuser, classical or Sanskrit music playing, a lit candle, extra protein for whingers, extra love for those whom seem like they least ‘deserve’ it.

  • How important is rhythm in your life?

Life is good with rhythm. Occasionally ours sounds more like a 14 piece jazz ensemble and when it does that’s an opportunity to practice equanimity.

  • Finish these sentences:
  • I am happiest when: I’m practising contentment.
  • Love is: all.
  • My greatest wish for my children is: to be true to themselves, to keep following their intuition, to honour, respect and love themselves.
  • What does being a peaceful mother mean to you?

To me it means loving myself and accepting myself as who I am. I don’t beat myself up about stuff – not for too long anyway. The concept of yamas and niyamas makes the whole yogic lifestyle practical, achievable. The first yama is ahimsa. That means non-violence. That is non-violence in thought, word and deed. To me that means not having the negative thought in the first place. In yoga nothing is supressed so if a negative thought comes up I acknowledge it and let it go. Some thoughts are easier to let go than others. If that negative thought is difficult to move I will chant or imagine a saint’s face, the Buddha, Jesus, Sivananda, Krishna and it the feeling dissipates.

Control of the mind is very important. War begins in the minds of men. A negative thought, especially a presumption, quickly spirals down into a round of hell. It is a choice to be peaceful. A choice to be happy. I actively choose to be happy. This can be difficult at times because the nature of the mind is to be negative. The mind needs to be trained, cultured and tailored towards peace. Children are not born like this. We have to teach them to train their mind through example, with activities that foster beauty, happiness and gratitude.

About Katie:

My name is Katie. I have been practising Satyananda Yoga for 21 years & have 2 yoga diplomas, the most current in Satyananda Yoga. In 2002 I travelled to India to met Paramahansa Satyananda Saraswati & my guru, Paramahansa Niranjanananda Saraswati. This was the greatest experience of my life.

My father created a great spark in Buddhism and Sikhism. He taught me the basic principles of Buddhism – being kind to others, what goes around comes around, do not kill & the middle path. His father’s most notable teachings was, “If the whole world looks wrong, take a look at yourself.” My parents taught awareness and empathy. My mother introduced me to yoga.

I studied Early Childhood education at Macquarie University & specialised in Montessori Education. My thesis’ at university were ‘Nurturing the Spiritual Development of the Child’ & ‘Tibetan Parenting’. With a fellow Montessorian, we have set up a school at Wamberal on the Central Coast, NSW, Australia. The first Montessori school on the Central Coast.

In 2005 I founded a yoga school called ~ Yoga by the Sea. I teach yoga on the Central Coast & at Satyananda Yoga Ashram, Mangrove Mountain. I also facilitate two groups; Sivananda Math – an Indian charity institution – & Stitches for Tibet – a creative group which raises money for a Tibetan woman (living in exhile – Dharamsala) to complete a tailoring apprenticeship. These three groups fall under the banner of the Saraswati School of Arts. I facilitate a conscious parenting group called Obaitori. It is an all-embracing collective of women who support each other in ‘sharing the struggle’ belonging together and not living in ‘isolated perfection’.

I live on the East Coast of Australia with my husband & two children. I write at obaitori.com.

Like everyone I make mistakes and make it up as I go along. It’s lovely to meet you. Katie.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Katie. I have been following Katie and her wise words for many years.  I always feel like everything is going to be just fine when I connect with her. I love that you say that we each choose our own happiness and that it is a choice we make on a daily basis. You have an incredible toolkit of peace in there, Katie. I am sure that our readers are better off for having read your wisdom.

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