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By Pritpal Kaur Khalsa
When I woke up this morning I remembered that in 3 weeks, I will celebrate my 62nd birthday. Wow, seems impossible and also so real. Can it be that I have seen that many years on this planet Earth? As I look into the mirror, I notice the ever increasing wise lines that seemingly appear to be forming multiple tributaries. Sometimes these lines bring my lips into an upward curve: “Yes, what an amazing journey this has been. What gifts I have, a beautiful family, a new granddaughter, a remarkable marriage to a great man for over 37 years, a divine spiritual community and the joy of the Guru’s grace in my life, and on and on.” Today, as I notice these lines, my lips form a downward curve: “You are aging, no one will love you or care about you. You are all washed up girl.” What a monkey this mind is. One minute the thoughts are so elevating and the other so demeaning.
It is all in a thought, either elevating or degrading. How common it is for us as women to compare ourselves to what the media presents as “the ideal woman.” I am reminded, again and again of the wisdom of Yogi Bhajan when he said that a woman has 3 enemies—comparing, competing and complaining. The moment I am hooked into either of these 3 C’s, I become small, impotent and disempowered.
Again I look into the mirror and I remember an experience I had about 20 years ago. I was teaching a yoga class to a group of college students. The class included young men and women between the ages of 19 and 22. At the end of the class I was curious and asked the students, “When you think of the most of the most beautiful person you know, who is that person?” The vast majority of the students quickly answered, “My grandmother” or “My great aunt.” I was surprised and yet not surprised to hear them connect beauty to age and wisdom. So, I take a deep breath and feel the joy of knowing that my grey hair and lines are truly a sign of beauty and not my demise.
And so my day began with a dance of inner dialogue about the true meaning of beauty for woman. As I continued to dig deeper, I remembered a story I had heard a few weeks ago—the story of three courageous women from the Middle East, two from Liberia and one from Yemen, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011. I went to the web to see their faces and read their stories. What I saw was three remarkable models of true beauty, courage and grace. Wow, two of the women were wearing magnificent African style turbans and the other younger woman had a beautiful head covering. As I read the words of the Nobel Peace Selection Committee, I felt tears come to my eyes. Here is the story issued upon their selection:
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 is to be divided in three equal parts between Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work. We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.
In October 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325. The resolution for the first time made violence against women in armed conflict an international security issue. It underlined the need for women to become participants on an equal footing with men in peace processes and in peace work in general.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Africa’s first democratically elected female president. Since her inauguration in 2006, she has contributed to securing peace in Liberia, to promoting economic and social development, and to strengthening the position of women.
Leymah Gbowee mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia, and to ensure women’s participation in elections. She has since worked to enhance the influence of women in West Africa during and after war.
In the most trying circumstances, both before and during the ‘Arab spring,’ Tawakkul Karman has played a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen.
It is the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s hope that the prize to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman will help to bring an end to the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries, and to realize the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent.”
What a magnificent moment in history this is. I know that a tremendous wave of hope and light is present on this planet. There is recognition from the United Nations and the world of the creative power of women as a necessary force to bring about peace and wholeness for all humankind. As Yogi Bhajan has said, “I believe that so long as those born of woman do not respect woman, there shall be no peace on Earth.” We are seeing the window open for a new beginning.
And so as I finish this day, I am inspired to say no to doubt and fear and to arise tomorrow with a smile and dedication to be grateful for each adversity and gift that is presented. I will not question my beauty and capacity. I know I am here as a woman to stand as a leader and change-maker. I will look in the mirror each morning from now on and say, “I am Woman, I am Divine” and remember the example of these three remarkable women who have paved the way for so many.
Pritpal Kaur Khalsa has been a teacher of Kundalini Yoga, Meditation and spiritual awareness for over 35 years. Her passion for assisting others on their road to excellence and fulfillment, and her wealth of experience as a teacher, healer and mentor bring a depth of joy and wisdom to her workshops, classes and coaching practice. www.pritpalkaur.com
Artwork by Sewa Singh Khalsa www.sikhphotos.com