“The psyches and souls of women also have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place.” — Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype
When I was in my early 20's, I was on a spiritual quest for a deeper understanding of life. One of the things I did was create a Women’s Group, something I facilitate today as a Thought Coach. I wanted to be in the presence of elders that were also on a spiritual journey, but more importantly, I wanted them to be older and wiser than me because I knew that I would benefit greatly from being in their presence, and hearing what they had to say about their life experiences. So, once a month we would gather in my apartment and sit together in a circle. I was the youngest of five women, each one of them a wise “elder,” meaning they had lived their lives committed to realizing a sacred purpose, and personal power, and could pass along their wisdom to me, which I was very grateful for.
The group consisted of a shaman/healer, a yogi, a writer, a clothing designer who lived alone in a cave in New Mexico a few months out of the year, and myself, an actress-writer hungry for spiritual knowledge. I learned so much from being in the company of these amazing ladies who, to me, embodied the type of woman that was written about in Clarissa Pinkola Estes book Women Who Run With The Wolves - Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. Each of the women in my group had the “passionate creativity” and “ageless knowing” that the book described, and were living an “authentic life,” which was something, I sensed, became easier to do as you get older because you earned the right to be completely who you are with no regrets or apologies.
They seemed fearless to me, and the stories they shared had me in awe of each of them and wanting a life as adventurous and interesting as theirs. One of the women, the yogi, would tell us about her experiences in India with her Hindu guru. Her stories were about “consciousness” and “transcending,” and when she talked about “karma” and “reincarnation,” I felt I was listening to someone who genuinely knew what she was talking about because she was living the life of “seeking enlightenment,” which I was committed to also. The only difference between myself and these incredible women, I felt, was that they were further along than me on their spiritual journey, but I knew that with time, and with their help being my elders, and initiating me into the “wisdom tribe,” that I would be like them one day — the “Crone,” a true wise woman.
When I sought out these spiritual elders, things were different then. People weren’t hooked on gadgets like their “smart phones,” and glued to social media the way they are today. You have to be willing to put that all away, or at least find some time to disconnect from the material, and connect to the spiritual. Unless you’re willing to step away from all of the distractions and endless stimuli around you, you cannot drop into a more spiritual life.
Here are some suggestions I have for those of you out there who are looking for more spirituality in your life and want to develop your “Wise Woman” or "Wise Man."
1. Meditate — It’s a great way to quiet the mind and connect to the wisdom within you.
2. Read spiritual books like: Women Who Run With The Wolves (Estes), The Red Tent (Diamant), Goddesses In Every Woman (Shinoda), The Living Goddesses (Gimbutas), The Great Goddesses (Markale), Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom (Northrup), and any book by Louise Hay and Marianne Williamson. For men, books like; The Road Less Traveled (Peck), The Way of the Superior Man (Deida), Iron John (Bly), King, Warrior, Magician, Lover (Gillette), and Fire in the Belly (Keen); to name a few.
3. Go to spiritual retreats.
4. Listen to spiritual talks and lectures given by women and men you admire and respect.
5. Take spiritual workshops that feed your mind, body and spirit; like yoga, dance or healing.
6. Start a women’s group, men's group, or meditation group.
7. Spend time with a spiritual elder.
You will learn so much by spending time with wise, spiritual elders that are older than you. You might have a grandparent or even great-grandparent who is spiritual, and can ask her, or him to tell you stories about their life journey, which they probably would love to do. Listening to stories from those who have lived rich, full lives is a great way for them to share their “secret gold” with you, and it can become a part of your “sacred knowledge,” which maybe you will one day pass down to someone younger than you.
We all have great wisdom to impart to one another, and we have gathered in groups since primitive times where we danced around the fire praying together. It was always the great elder who would guide the way, and help “initiate” younger people into their rites of passage.
I have tremendous gratitude for the brave, passionate elders who walked the wisdom path before me, and shed their light on it for all of those who wish to travel a similar path too. It is a journey to awaken your “great spirit” well worth taking.
Ora Nadrich is founder and president of the Institute for Transformational Thinking and author of "Says Who? How One Simple Question Can Change the Way You Think Forever". A certified life coach and mindfulness teacher, she specializes in transformational thinking, self-discovery, and mentoring new coaches as they develop their careers. Contact her at theiftt.org.