Contemplative Motherhood Podcast

Building the Bridge: Introducing the Ammas

March 28, 2022 Erin Thomas & Chelsea Whipple Season 2 Episode 1
Building the Bridge: Introducing the Ammas
Contemplative Motherhood Podcast
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Contemplative Motherhood Podcast
Building the Bridge: Introducing the Ammas
Mar 28, 2022 Season 2 Episode 1
Erin Thomas & Chelsea Whipple

Chelsea & Erin welcome back all the listeners and give a more in-depth view of what Season 2 has in store for us. After a "long pause" Erin and Chelsea share what they noticed about themselves after recording Season 1. They break down where they are in their spiritual journey and how all those wonderings from Season 1 landed them perfectly to launch Season 2.

This season will talk about Ammas and what these women can teach us, modern-day listeners. Inspired by Maya Angelou who said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” 

Tune in to hear those stories and be left wondering, what is that untold story inside of you.

Show Notes Transcript

Chelsea & Erin welcome back all the listeners and give a more in-depth view of what Season 2 has in store for us. After a "long pause" Erin and Chelsea share what they noticed about themselves after recording Season 1. They break down where they are in their spiritual journey and how all those wonderings from Season 1 landed them perfectly to launch Season 2.

This season will talk about Ammas and what these women can teach us, modern-day listeners. Inspired by Maya Angelou who said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” 

Tune in to hear those stories and be left wondering, what is that untold story inside of you.

Chelsea Whipple  0:35  
You are listening to the contemplative motherhood podcast. My name is Chelsea. I'm a teacher practitioner, spiritual director and pilgrim.

Erin Thomas  0:43  
And I'm Erin, a creative homeschool educator, counselor and spiritual seeker. listen in as we dive deeper into the contemplative lifestyle we're hearing about each of our lives. 

Chelsea Whipple  0:56  
You'll hear our triumphs and failures, practices and mistakes as we journey together. You might even hear a kid or two inthe background. 

Erin Thomas  1:05  
So grab some coffee, tea, curl up and take off your shoes. We're welcome here. Now let's get started.

Chelsea Whipple  1:13  
Oh, it is so good to be back here with everyone and with you Erin and back with all the listeners. We took quite a break from finishing season one with some great bonus material from Erin and here we are now back for season two. So in this episode, we're going to attempt to build a bridge from where we left off in season one to what we're going to dive into for season two. So if you listened to all of season one, hopefully you did, if not quick plug to go do that. For Season one we discussed really what a contemplative lifestyle could look like for us as mothers. And really what we mean by mothers, I don't want to make it too complicated, but it's just for all those who spend so much of their time and energy, caring for other beings than ourselves. This of course, could mean your children, other children, adult children, animals, etc. And during that season, we really desire to break down those barriers of finding intentional time and space to feel connected to the divine within you. It all plays out differently in each of our lives. As you've probably noticed when Erin and I talk, we discuss many times how different we both are and how we found those intentional times. And spaces. In those episodes, those contemplative practices we taught are really ones that we both practice and found as that way to stay centered and feel the sacredness of ordinary life

Erin Thomas  2:56  
yeah, thanks Chelsea this is such a good lead off and first of all, Hi, I'm excited to be here.

Chelsea Whipple  3:03  
I'm sorry. I should have stopped to introduce Hello, Miss Erin is on the line here.

Erin Thomas  3:08  
Friend I am just this is a really good lead off and I'm super excited to be here for season two. I really love the conversation of what a contemplative lifestyle looks like for many of us, as well as what it means to be a contemplative. And like you said, I really agree with you in the sense that motherhood goes far beyond the social constructs that we've built for it. And around. So thanks for being here with us today. If you are listening for the very first time. In some sense, many of us connect with the longing to be present, right and many of us connect with a desire to connect with the divine. And then literally every second of our lives is involved in caring for others. I think a lot of us can sort of resonate with that narrative. And frankly, you guys this takes work and it may have even taken work for you to be here. listening to this podcast. And so we are super grateful that you chose to be here with us. So in case anyone hasn't told you today that you are appreciated, and that we are glad you are here. Thanks for being here. 

Erin Thomas  4:28  
last season I found that we and I say that collectively, all of us. We showed up to be present here in this podcast space. And it felt kind of funny for us, right? An interesting platform for us to be present with each other in this sort of context. When really It allowed us to even take the time to inventory where we are in our soul on more ways than one. Actively living often feels like a cultural battle. At least for me. You know, I think a lot of times I feel that just jibber jabber in my head of planning ahead right about the next step for you in front of the next person. This is just sort of the on going story that we hear in our culture every day. And this is one of the foundational whys of why we wanted to start. In reality, the battle for contemplative life, especially as a mother, it can feel countercultural for many of us and I think it's okay for us to acknowledge that. So I want to before we get too far ahead and share some exciting things about season two. 

Erin Thomas  5:53  
I want to touch a minute on our most talked about episodes, and a little bit on the bonus episodes where I got to meet with you guys in a child centered lens with the contemplative child at the end of last season I don't know if you felt this way but there was a resounding YES to several specific episodes, Chelsea, I don't know if you noticed this but that's kind of one of the things we get when we do a podcast is we see where you guys are really resonating. And these episodes were themetically I guess illustrated that you guys were looking how to practically be a contemplative mother in everyday life, like how do I do this? And then having the opportunity to interact with you guys personally, it felt through social media or whether it was in person it really felt like the episodes of the first season, sort of had a few of you dabbling your toes in the waters of the contemplative lifestyle, per se. And I heard that some of you might have felt the water was a little bit cold or intimidating. And so maybe you were good with just like what practice and that's, that's perfectly fine.

Chelsea Whipple  7:13  
Yeah, we can all relate to that. 

Erin Thomas  7:15  

Chelsea Whipple  7:15  

Erin Thomas  7:16  
Do one thing. 

Chelsea Whipple  7:18  

Erin Thomas  7:19  
And then there were some of you who maybe you have a personality like mine, we just jumped in for in the swimming pool. This is where we are. And we you just went all in and you did all the things and either way we loved it. And we were very excited that you guys were having this conversation with us and that you were carrying this conversation into your life. So breaking down our last season it was things like rituals and routines and stillness and silence and in reality, I think it's important for us to say this was not a ton of new material to you guys, in the sense of it being a topic that you've talked about me personally, but you felt as though this podcast gave you time to reflect on whether or not you're intentional in your own lives with embracing a contemplative lifestyle. And you guys this is because it's not just about whether or not we understand the topics that we talk about in a super comprehensive deep level as it is applying it in our lives. And you showed up, and that was amazing. 

Erin Thomas  8:34  
So season one was a time it felt like a belonging, of finding where you are in this space here with us. And so if you're returning with us, welcome back friend. And if you are new with us, we hope you have the time to listen back on season one and get your footing just a little bit. But if you don't, there is space for you here and we want you to know that that you will find the ebb and flow easy to jump in. You will get to know Chelsea more and you will get to know me more and it is our hope that we are genuine and transparent as we share with you and so now despite us recognizing that this countercultural battle for this sacred at simplicity in this contemplative life of love, mother, here we are again. And I'm excited. I know I'm the enthusiast here we are. I'm enthusiastic.

Chelsea Whipple  9:35  
You are our cheerleader, we need you Erin, I need you.

Erin Thomas  9:41  
So, but I'll admit to you doing those last few episodes of the contemplative child by myself was a little intimidating. Carrying on a conversation with just yourself. It's very interesting. But you guys gave a lot of great feedback and I'm very thankful for that Chelsea was working on her doctoral paper and super excited for her for that. And I was I was a little nervous, but y'all are so Grace filled and helpful. And I had just a time to chat with some of you on what it meant to include your children and contemplative practices and even sort of addressing what this might look like throughout the year using seasonal opportunities for invitations. 

Erin Thomas  10:30  
And it was amazing to me how quickly you all responded. So please continue to share those stories with us. We are incredibly grateful for the fruit that you guys are seeing in your life. And so, here we are. I want to know, Chels I feel like this is like a first conversation that we had in a while to share with us a little bit about where you have been where you are now. from season one to now here we are in season two.

Chelsea Whipple  11:03  
Yeah yeah. I mean, it's interesting, knowing I think what everyone goes through in life, but life really always throws us curveballs and some are great. Some are just what they are some are not great. And so for me to really look back at this pause, because we didn't intend to take such a long pause. And if you're know of course listening to these episodes straight through, you don't even know the difference and

Erin Thomas  11:40  
you're really ignorant. 

Erin Thomas  11:42  
You are and thats wonderful, I love you.

Chelsea Whipple  11:45  
I know I have one shows that I love to stream when pretty much the show's over so I can just get through them all and that's great. I don't have to deal with break. So I definitely understand that but if you have been with us throughout the breaks, you know it's been quite a long one but for me, I find so much purpose. So it's really given me an opportunity to reflect on you know, these last however many months they've been I'm not going to do the math in my head real quick and talk about my noticings so, you know, I noticed that when we talk about contemplative practices because it's something Erin and I you know, we've both done you know, we collected it collectively and individually has done for for years and you know, some years have been better than others. But when you talk about them that it's quite different. And you notice so much more, you know, finding that sacredness in ordinary life, you know, when life and they become lifelines. So I've been extremely busy way to way too busy. And I really needed these contemplative practices as my lifeline, you know, really is my grounding. So, you know, I admittedly, like probably all of us have way too much on my plate. You know, I I do work full time. I raise three kids with my spouse, I am a spiritual director, do this podcast, volunteer for a local interfaith organization. I'm going to school for my doctorate that is just insane. I don't know.

Erin Thomas  13:21  
Like, that's crazy.

Chelsea Whipple  13:26  
You know, the other things you know, that life throws at us. And so, I don't know, I've got myself in a mess people. I will crawl myself out, don't worry. And you're here that's in that I'm here and I'm present. And I think, you know, I realized through these practices, that I am when I'm doing them are more myself and I'm honest with myself. I literally just even writing down you know, things that are on my plate that are too much is me being honest with myself saying This is insane. You know, it's just a struggle. I'm a little bit in too deep. And I need to take the time to really cut through it and figure out what it is that needs to, you know, be stripped away a little bit. 

Chelsea Whipple  14:14  
And when I open myself and hear me speak, which kind of sounds a little self serving but really when we listen to ourselves, we also hear this wisdom that speaks from us. And when I listen to others as they speak, I can hear their wisdom and when I spend time with that, that gets me locked in so it's really learning that all my all these activities that use my talents and bring joy in knowing which ones are kind of draining me of that joy because of the amount of giving I have to do. So, you know in this gap time is really when I found when I find myself searching for the centered and calming presence of the Divine, you know to be present in all these activities. And further to use these practices to discern what I need to gently let go up and we kind of maybe use the word discern or discern in one of our episodes, but we really haven't gone deeper than that. And so hopefully you know this season, we can maybe look at some of the topics that we're going to talk about in this matter of discernment because I think that's really important for us too. Because again, we all have activities, and most of them we can't say no to because they're activities you have to do so you know discerning what it is you need to gently let go so you know and I'm sure others can relate to this mess that I'm in and you know the the few episodes we did talk about this heart center. 

Chelsea Whipple  16:06  
You know, in really this great taught me how important this heart center is into find you know what is giving you life and to hold on to those and let go of this notion of trying to do everything because it creeps up so quickly on us. The expectations just kind of way down on us. And really trying to be this perfect symbol of whatever newness and, you know, with which is hard to ever. You'll never live up to it. 

Erin Thomas  16:40  

Chelsea Whipple  16:40  
You know, and so it's learning to just be present and saying hey, I am who I am and I love it. I am not perfect. I definitely don't make baked treats that look wonderful and those of you do this such as Pinterest. No, I am not Pinterest fail and that is okay. I you know kind of pride myself laughing at that a little bit but I mean it gets back on track, okay. So I'm a person that loves to do things that really make me feel important. And, you know, if I sit with myself like what was what is important mean to me, and it's really comes from you know how I was raised and that important to me is giving you know, I have this deep sense of I grew up very privileged, I would say and I'm thankful that my dad really installed this sense of we've been given much you need to give it out. You cannot keep it you are the caretaker you are not the holder of possessions. And so that's kind of drives me a little bit and sometimes, you know, can in so doing, you know, I can tend to give more than I really have the energy to do. And so I need to find those ways of holding on to the heart center and discerning before I kind of accept that new giving opportunity. And that's my own thing, and we all have our own things. And so that's important too in a contemplative practice is to sit and notice these these different ways of being and who we are, you know, as a further way to accept who we are.

Chelsea Whipple  18:15  
So really what I'm saying is that I noticed more and more that talking about this way of connecting with others in learning ways to be present is what helps me to then produce ways of being present within myself, but really gets overlooked the being present to yourself, not only present to your children and to all the other people and the outside world and having compassion on them. But to be present with yourself is really kind of where it starts. So you know one of the things you know even having small noticings of when my body does not feel right you know when I'm beginning to be anxious about deadlines, or pleasing others, those are my two sticking points. So you know, finding myself to take the time to sit with it, hold it and learn from it. So I feel like I'm in the space right now. of learning. What is peace to me? And what is it that's disturbing that peace or what's holding that?

Erin Thomas  19:20  
I love that, that is so good for me.

Chelsea Whipple  19:22  
Yes. So Erin, would you be willing to share some a few noticing from our extended pause?

Erin Thomas  19:28  
Yeah. I mean, I feel like I'm the cause of our extended pause. You know, as females we always feel that way, right? Like, we're responsible. But you know, it's interesting to hear you talk about talking about this. Yeah, we can focus on that for a second. Um, for me, and this is interesting is that I want to flip the script just a little bit because the way that I identify in my own personal way with noticing is actually the opposite. It's listening. And so that is what I feel like it's such a good thing about being here with your with your sacred companion, right. Like, the irony is that talking about this way of life helped me listen in a more sacred way. I can be honest and saying that man, friend, I resonate with the helping part. The helping part of me feels almost like an inner motor, you know, I thrive when I feel like I'm needed or validated and my quest to be even helping in some senses can be addicting. And in some of its qualities, we like accolades, like praise, you know, and if that's shifted and my heart center, and I'm looking outside of myself for that validation, then the type of helping I'm doing and, and even within that role, then, you know, I'm completely, I'm off kilter. And that is a very good checking point. So, yeah, I'm kind of like you. And I feel like I'm one of those people where I'm the same it looks like I'm a woman just like throwing on some random hats. And that's a dog. 

Chelsea Whipple  20:03  
No, just let them go. 

Erin Thomas  21:20  
One of the random hats that I throw on is that I'm a caretaker of dogs. Some I like more than others but, you know, I think if this is the reality. in the daytime, I'm a homeschool mom and a content writer. I do some digital work and I serve on the Board of 2 nonprofits was one couldn't be enough, right? Like, come on, but I'm saying all this because I really resonate with you and I have to be careful. And I think a lot of us have to be careful that our identity isn't found in what we do, but rather just who we are.

Chelsea Whipple  22:06  
I love that. Oh my goodness, our identity is not on what we do, but not who we are.

Erin Thomas  22:15  
That's so hard. It's so hard. It sounds so simple, but it is so hard to internalize. If, if we're using that as a narrative, and we are desiring that sort of heart center then you know, that's that's a really good check point for where we are and homeschooling. If you are a homeschooler and you are listening to this podcast. I'm going to give you an accolade. Yes, this is hard. So really that is my full time job and to share a bit with you guys about this world and just like a lot of aspects of motherhood, whether it's public school moms or homeschool moms or women, women in the workforce, there can often be this like competitive field. And it's really not necessarily a competitive field with the other mom on the other side of the brain, right? What it is, is a competition within ourselves. And, you know, some of the questions that I can find myself asking is, Am I doing this right? I know we all think am I doing this right? Like, is this is this okay? Look, how fun are you? Or? Yes, okay, this is good. I research 10 hours for this one new math curriculum check. Okay, these are just some of the things that go through my head and I have developed this say that I say to myself, and this is from a collection of other home educators well that the children and the connection are more important than the curriculum. And I felt like this sort of applied to what I was trying to do and our gap period right. And this is sort of a theme amongst us. I want to just out myself and say that I am just as guilty of showing my highlight reel in real life as well as I do on social media. Okay, so let's just real talk. That this season was a challenging season for me in this in this gap time and I found myself knocked down with some significant health issues, which for some of us is often our wake up call right. And as a result, we are literally sometimes forced to reevaluate, and in every physical and emotional sense, I was no longer able to conquer the next helpful helper roll pass. Like I couldn't do the next. And so I just want to throw out the idea that for me during this extended pause on the show, I noticed and literally made it to myself in my journal, but it shouldn't take a drastic knock ever proportions for me to tend to myself. In fact, I want to say with just a heart of gratitude that this podcast has helped me just as much as it helps you to find and talk about the lines and not if but how. And for that reason, I am super happy and we are excited about season two and just a brief breakdown. Like let's break down season two a little bit so we know what's been hurt. Okay,

Chelsea Whipple  25:57  
let's get some bells. We are ready Erin and I are excited. 

Erin Thomas  26:02  
Jingle jingle. 

Chelsea Whipple  26:04  
I know So Erin Guess what? We're going to talk about this season. Then we're gonna crack up in ourselves a bit more as if we haven't already right. I have a problem with vulnerability, so I'm like, I don't know.

Erin Thomas  26:21  
You're doing so well. I'm so proud of you.

Chelsea Whipple  26:24  
I'm so uncomfortable with vulnerability so you know, we're going to take ourselves open just a little bit more you know, and find out more about I love this. These women that have come before us in the great scheme of life, or are in the midst of us everyday walking around who have walked this path of sacredness. They have much much to teach us. 

Chelsea Whipple  26:56  
So, we have the season entitled The stories of the Ammas. And we chose the word amma to describe them. So language is important. And sometimes I get so frustrated with the English language, because it just never seems to have the right word I'm looking for. And so we thought let's go back to the ancient use. And I only met this doctoral paper are working on including a lot of these women so that might have been, Why was so important but unveiling these women really brought some depth. I feel like it can really bring some depth to us. So to simplify, you know, the word amma means. This term means spiritual mother. So the way that we use amma is to describe these amazing women that have a spiritual connection. With this the great meaning of life. And because I'm a history buff, I mean, you know, I love to research history. So of course, I had to research what you know the linguistic use of Amma. I'm going to take the word deeper, so we can really grasp what amma means is it's not just spiritual mother, or we're gonna like an onion, peel it a little bit. So amma comes from many languages and cultures. I thought that was pretty amazing. Usually, it's pretty true. You'll have kind of the root word and you have a lot of different branches that kind of spring off of it. But this really, root words never broken up, is really how it's used. And so most of the time, it means something greater than just the word mother. It can be referred to as a wet nurse, a nanny, a grandmother, all descriptions of women who sustained your life. Maybe they didn't give you life, but they were your Sustainer they were your providers. So for us Amma. Not only means spiritual mother, but also someone who is a sustainer who is our provider who gives us these tools to sustain our life, to give us a deeper greater life and to connect us all together and really, it's an honor to be able to talk about these women. 

Chelsea Whipple  29:28  
You know, we're not going to of course, there's so many of them. So really just going to get a glimpse of these women in their lives. But we're going to try to learn from them lean into their lives and take away those beautiful nuggets of how they bring love and life and to share how they connect with a great source of life and find the sacred of everyday life. And also the great aspect of the contemplative life is learning to be present. And these women know how to be present. So Erin, you've read a great quote from Maya Angelou in the trailer for this season. And I'm wondering which you read it again, and you know what inspired you to use this quote?

Chelsea Whipple  0:16  
and you know what inspired you to use this quote?

Erin Thomas  0:36  
Absolutely. This is being a writer. I love to read about other writers. I know that sounds kind of an ironic, but I'm sure many of you are familiar with Maya Angelou. And she once said, There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you. And I'm going to say that again. There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of and funny Oddly enough, this quote came to me as my children and I were studying her poetry. As we've talked about before, teaching our children they teach us and I found that things I didn't know before. One of the things that I found out about Maya, and I want to bring this up because I just couldn't stop thinking about it is that it might as early why she witnessed an extensive trauma at a very young age, found herself not speaking for years. And so she spent a great deal of time trying to find her inner voice and trying to find how to express that and as a result, she has become one of the most beautiful talked about poets of all time, expressing outwardly, her story through writing. But it was only through that journey to find her voice through the poetry. It's notably that that she captured and share that untold story. within herself. 

Erin Thomas  2:23  
So perhaps you're listening today and you feel you haven't quite found your story? Or maybe you found your story, but you haven't yet found how you want to share your story. That's okay. And that's not why we're focusing on these stories. And the honest decision. The desire of us is to delve into the stories of these ammas, as we call them, is for you to not necessarily to feel like you have to do more with us. But we want you to be here with us and we hope to set up this space as a way to profile and shine a light on some of these women who have even unintentionally written stories of life of intention, and that sacred meaning even if they themselves would not consider it, quote unquote, spiritually profound. They have found their heart center their inner voice and have agreed to share this outwardly with us. And so we come into this space. We have this feeling that the stories of these on this may be in our little space of podcast world in place of holy sacred grounds. We might actually have to take off our shoes when we're done talking about these women, right friend. And so, here in season two The stage has been set for sharing stories of life giving and life sustaining. Our desires is just that these stories become the very life that inspires you to keep going and inspires us to keep going and our beautiful chaos our sacred mundane. 

Erin Thomas  4:12  
So wrapping this up what should you expect this season? It's simply this we are coming with open hearts and hands to hear the stories of ammas we may take off our shoes a couple times. We may stand on holy ground more times than we even know. We will peel back a layer of our own listening capacity. And you might hear the story of an amma is spiritual seeking. She might be kind of like you or she might be kind of like me. So in season two is time, my friends to do some sacred listening and we hope you will join us on our next episode.

Erin Thomas  4:56  
thank you again for joining us today on the contemplative motherhood podcast with your host, Erin Thomas and Chelsea Whipple. 

Chelsea Whipple  5:05  
To get regular updates on our podcasts hear new episode drops interact with us and find our show notes. Go to our website, www dot contemplative There you can also sign up for our newsletter. 

Erin Thomas  5:19  
As always, we appreciate your support of this podcast and in helping us share our journey with others. We invite you to regularly check our blog, our after the show blog post will allow you to dive deeper on the content share. If you enjoyed today's podcast, make sure to subscribe rate and leave us a review. This helps us cross pasts with other pilgrim mamas across the board.

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