Contemplative Motherhood Podcast

Learning from the Ammas: Recognizing Margins

May 23, 2022 Erin Thomas & Chelsea Whipple Season 2 Episode 9
Contemplative Motherhood Podcast
Learning from the Ammas: Recognizing Margins
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Chelsea gives life updates and notices how this season is opening up new ways for creativity. Erin and Chelsea are taking a mid-season break before releasing the last 9 or so episodes. The reason for this is actually what the Ammas teach about staying present to the...well present. Both Erin and Chelsea realized that to be honest with themselves and their life situations that the best thing to do is to be honest with their spirit. Listen and learn how Chelsea is noticing how finding margins (opening oneself to the unexpected) is exactly what it says. Unexpected situations that the Ammas actually teach about are now opening ways that the Divine is speaking.

When we notice the need for margins, it can teach us the art of letting go. The Ammas are all about the letting go and the freedom that comes from it. As Chelsea says, The freedom to know life is not to be controlled but to simply live. 

Check out for more updates!

Chelsea Whipple  0:03  
You are listening to the contemplative motherhood podcast. My name is Chelsea. I'm a teacher, practitioner, spiritual director and pilgrim.

Erin Thomas  0:12  
And I'm Erin, a creative homeschool educator, counselor and spiritual seeker. listen in as we dive deeper into the contemplative lifestyle through hearing about each of our lives,

Chelsea Whipple  0:24  
you'll hear our triumphs, failures, practices and mistakes as we journey together. You might even hear a kid or two in the background.

Erin Thomas  0:33  
So grab some coffee, tea curl up and take off your shoes.

Erin Thomas  0:38  
You are welcome here.

Erin Thomas  0:39  
Now let's get started.

Chelsea Whipple  0:42  
Hello, friends. Welcome to the contemplative motherhood podcast. I am your co host, Chelsea Whipple and if you've listened to us before it is usually Erinn Thomas, my co host introducing us. But today it's just me here on the podcast first time I've ever recorded by myself. So of course this episode is going to be a bit different than our usual ones. Now we are about midway through our planned second season, and have been enjoying so much exploring these ammas and how their life and experience shaped their relationship with the divine. And I feel the more I study and talk about these ammas the more they're just penetrating my life and helping to go further end up with my relationship to the ultimate reality. And I really hope and desire that they are starting to shape yours as well to keep you know you've been kind of dwelling on them a little bit longer kind of holding space for them, and seeing how they're co creating in your relationship with the divine. So I'd like to begin this episode to let you all know what is currently happening. In Erin and I's life. So if you're watching this right when we release it, it's still relevant, if not, who knows what's happening but and I'm not going to try to speak for Erin too much since she's not here but just going to kind of give you a general overview. So in the last episode of the Christian desert ammas, Erin revealed that she broke her ankle while on vacation with her kids and our spouse. And after we recorded the episode she found out it was more detailed than just a simple break. So she is currently at her house unable to climb stairs, trying to homeschool she homeschools her two children and deal with other families medical issues so as you can imagine her life has just really been flipped upside down. In this you know she's struggling as you can imagine any of us in that situation would be struggling quite a bit. And for me personally, I have had what feels like unplanned tasks that are just overwhelming me. They're taking all of my free time that I have. And what is funny is that I had dropped some of my responsibilities in order to prioritize creating free space and exploring what this free space will offer me. And the free space is offering what I did not expect and I'm going to get into that in just a bit and that'll be kind of shaped around this episode about you know, learning from the ammas and recognizing the need for margins. Ah, love that word and we'll get into that. But first, I want everyone to know that if you're you know you follow us on social media you're gonna see this though as well. But Erin and I decided to take about a four week mid season break. So we are not done with Season Two. We're going to take about a four week break, and then finish this season by releasing an episode every two weeks. Instead of weekly and I am going to be so honest and vulnerable. And I'm sure I've said this before vulnerability is a little bit difficult for me but it's important and this was so hard to accept to take a midseason break honestly, you know we really live in kind of a producing culture. And I have I'm a perfectionist and so you know, my perfectionist attitude in me wanted to complete the season regardless if it broke Erin and I's back you know figures since we are dealing with a break here broken by but you know, it sounds so ridiculous to say.

Chelsea Whipple  4:55  
I have to admit like the idea of professionalism can sometimes overwhelm me and expectations you know I live in the cycle of accomplishments and expectations. And that's really my ego that kind of runs that ship. And I'm so glad that you know, being a contemplative and in practicing, you know the spiritual practices. I am so much more aware of when my egos controlling me and able to kind of take a step back and look at it and say what's really important here, and instead of kind of, quote unquote lying my way through what's really important I'm much more satisfied and comfortable with taking you know what can seem like the hard route which sometimes goes against our society. And you know, sometimes this my ego can just scream at me expectations, expectations, expectations, you need to produce you need to be accomplished, you need to do all these things. And I have changed so much in the last three years that it's just like, a little bit laughable. But you know, what's more important is my sanity and the health of myself. And that's for everyone. You know, the most important thing in our life is our emotional, our physical and our spiritual health. You know, in taking a step back and asking what is needed here? You know, do I need to keep going, going going? What is important? So, you know, when Erin and I set out and you know, I'll write the episode and we'll kind of talk discuss episode you know, we go through a big process to actually record one. And we when we were preparing for more episodes, you know, after after she had her fall, it just became obvious that season two was not going to happen in this nice, needy tidy box that heard I planned it to be which actually is such a great learning moment when you recognize the need for this. And as a morning person you know, I woke up one morning, feeling really uncomfortable pushing Erin  produce, you know, it was like this, you know, suddenly these ammas intervened in my life once more, they're so present on my brain right now. And, you know, I could sense all of them, even the ones that we haven't recorded, but just staring at me, you know, wondering why I was not encompassing their teachings. I've been talking about them and they've been growing inside of me. And this was like another step to really take the next step to live out the principles and love that they're teaching you know and here they are so with their faithful nature towards the more the Magus the more and asking you know what, what is it all for? You know why? Why do I do these podcasts? You know, why are we recording what what benefit what love are we trying to share with the world? You know, is teaching about these ammas in living in this worldly reality you know, when I speak about going through the more of reality, you know, so it's like, taking that next step, learning about these ammas and then actually living these ammas. I'm gonna take a quick drink here. As you can notice, I have another cold I feel like I don't know if anybody else is in this realm of constant cold. So needless to say, it felt like an epiphany rise for me. I want us to stay with that word epiphany.

Chelsea Whipple  8:59  
You know, I wanted to pause and see, you know, what is the epiphany for you? And wondering if these ammas could speak to me right now, what would they say? Yeah, I can almost picture them. And I don't know what they look like. Most of them. But what would they say if they're like Chelsea, you know, let's talk about this. Let's talk about what's going on in your life right now. You know and recognize what is going on, sit, give it space. You know, is this serving your purpose? And that was a great recognition. And I just love these women so much. You know, they continue over and over to surprise me. And let's get back to this word margins. So I have this new word margins. And it gets repeated in my head over and over and it's very relevant to understanding the intersection between our lives and this podcast. That's the margins and you all can probably since by now that we love introducing new words to describe being a contemplative in here is that other one margins. And when I say margins, it can mean something different to each person and how they understand this experience that I'm speaking about. So margins to me isn't just about like giving myself space, or creating space. It kind of is it incorporates it, but margins I always think of this like kind of that Canal where it's like allowing the unexpected to happen. So you know, for a bit of background on how this word is shaping my life right now. So a few months back, I realized that I was in over my head in life. You know, my very first episode I think I talked about doing a really good at doing and I desire to live a life of being and what does that mean? And then realizing that doing and being are the same thing. You know, but I did too many things without being in the things that are in my life are very intentional. Most of the type you know, we have life and life gives us tasks that are unplanned and just have to, you know, get done, our routines that we can turn into rituals, all those kinds of things. But the outside activities of what I didn't have to do in a normal just being you know, Mother, spouse or partner, employee, you know, those kinds of things. So those extra things and so those are intentional activities, and they're really life giving activities. But I was so overwhelmed and sometimes could be consumed by only them. You know, a task that needed to get done. It's that perfectionist attitude, that's just like going going going until, you know sometimes I'm physically exhausted. It was just too much and I needed to let go. Love the Word. Let go of some things in order to live and let be. And I don't want to be too presumptuous. So I apologize if this is too presumptuous, but I'm wondering if you know if others can relate, you know, walking in kind of the religious defining life for for a while. The idea of letting go can be fearsome for some. And I know it is especially for me, and there's two reasons for me for this, you know, letting go always feels like failure. Like I couldn't handle it. I need to just push through it even if it was breaking me. You know, I could weather the storm. I can handle it throw it at me. You know, I got it all together. It's funny, but it's really what filters through my head always being competent, confident, you know, and you know, the duck whole thing or be smooth on the surface and you know, being the duck and underneath your paddling like crazy, to me is a terrible metaphor in imagery for me anymore. It used to work great. And now I'm like, Why? Why? If I'm paddling so hard underneath why can I show that on the surface? Now I understand this sometimes need to be smooth. So you know that all together, it's what filters through my head and it's that darn ego, that darn ego that's always reliable, and always self assured. And the second reason why letting go is difficult is because I grew up with this repeated phrase in my head to let go and let God well, that's great.

Chelsea Whipple  14:00  
And sometimes letting God would generally mean doing something that I did not want to do. So my initial instinct is to say, all let go but I'm not so sure about this God thing. You know, and it's funny how life shapes us. And we're not quite sure I really like that let go and let God but I understand it in a different way than I did before. And I think that's probably true for for some of us. So going back to these wonderful ammas you know, I have relearned the idea of let go and let gone and it's not so much about letting go but about freeing myself. When I can focus on that freedom aspect, letting go does not become so difficult. You know, when I finally free myself a task that felt burdensome, it felt so free. And then suddenly, that freedom did not exactly do what I thought. And this is the real lesson about these margins, about kind of creating that canal for the unexpected to happen. I wanted it and I hadn't had no idea what it meant until it happened. So I desired for these margins to show up in the opening of time I created with these tasks. But that unexpected was something else completely. So back to the initial topic, you know about recognizing the need for margins. You know, I feel like the ammas could relate so much to these margins like they lived their life in these unexpected uncertain ways. And they had complete freedom that that's what life offered them. Oh my gosh, I just love it. I love that that's how they lived and that's what they can show us for us. Now, although it always seems like the ammas life was full of tasks and not like wandering means, you know, they didn't wander around the desert or you know Amma Miriam didn't wander around, you know, waiting for Moses to be picked up. She took action right? And you know, Amma Rabi'a you know didn't wander around waiting for God to intervened in her life she went with God she spent all our free time being in you know, intimate with God and Amma Ayya. You know, this practical way of looking at being present and every task that she did and letting go constantly constantly to feel that freedom of not holding on to anything. So you know, their life full of tasks and not so much of the wonderings you know, it's easy for these tasks that they taught to actually become the wonderings in themselves. Now, stay with me as I expand on these tasks. 

Chelsea Whipple  17:16  
So I spoke about this very topic about you know, needing to let go some stuff and in wanting those margins with my spiritual director. And I love spiritual direction as you guys can tell. And being a spiritual director myself, and it's just a wonderful way to open yourself up that you didn't even realize. And she asked you know, some looking at her like I finally let go of stuff and I did this and why is my life still so full? And she brought me back to you know, the idea of margins being unpredictable, of creating a space for unpredictability. And she asked if what I thought about creating free space to be present is actually what is happening, but just in an unpredicted way. You know, I have more freedom to maneuver and be present, you know, then constantly be in a state of what I've seen next, what I have to do next in the state of accomplishing things off my to do list and it's kind of where I was living. But it seems that right now this freedom that I've created for myself by dropping some of my responsibilities is being consumed by these unpredicted tasks. So my margin my my space of unpredictability right now in my life that I am, is opening up because of these ammas is finding ways to be present to this freedom of tasks. You know, I've no idea if this makes any sense to you.

Chelsea Whipple  18:53  
But I find myself more satisfied with the margins that are opening in this constant state of letting go. I'm going to give one such example because it feels weird to constantly talk about yourself, to yourself, for everyone else to listen but I have noticed lately when I'm doing these some of them are kind of menial tasks again, they just have are things that just needed to get done. And and they kind of can consume my mind while when I'm doing them and they don't take a lot of brainpower to think and it's like I find my wonderings to just be and be present to what I'm doing. And it's opening up this space of just then recollecting myself. It's like that those turning routines into rituals. Sometimes it's just being silent. You know, sometimes it's it's wandering in my head and sometimes it's speaking to the divine. Sometimes it's just being open to what I'm surrounded with, you know, what do I hear outside and sometimes I'm in a state where it's just like, you're just there no thoughts. Crossing my brain that I can recall, but I'm not, you know, fantasizing about being somewhere else. I'm just there. And that's very different from where I was. So to bring it back, you know, even recognizing the need for Erin and I to take a breather to focus on life, as it is being presented instead of maneuvering it to where it needs. We need it to be, you know, the freedom to know life is not to be controlled, but to simply live. So I'm gonna say that again, the freedom to know life is not to be controlled, but to simply live. You know, as a mom and really as a human. I know this and you know this but sometimes it takes us smack in the face to understand it. Well. This is the smack in the face and it was the ammas that delivered it. You know, and they're very example of living life on the margins, you know, constantly against standard society and allowing life to be lived instead of controlled. So as I wrap up this episode you know, what, you know, I wonder what what is the need for margins in your life, there's a need to creating that space of unpredictability and it's probably already happening. You know, and just recognizing what is it what was unpredicted? You know, unpredictable today that you found joy in or was upsetting. You know, where do you need space? Do you find your self with eyes glazed over just trying to get through the day and get as much as possible done, that you don't even know what you did that day? You know, how can the ammas Teach You To Be present you know, to find that space to breathe? There's something you want or need to let go of.

Chelsea Whipple  22:23  
So my challenge for you and for the next month is this. Breathe. Just breathe. Simply breathe. Breathe as if it is the only thing that needs to be done that day. Whatever else gets done is great. Because you already accomplished what you needed to do that day. Breathe. Breathe, breathe. Now notice how good it is to do that. When life gets to the point where it is too much, and again, breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Enjoy this break. I know we will. And I know we'll be excited to get back at it. But for now we are going to breathe. Just breathe Until next time.

Erin Thomas  23:29  
Thank you again for joining us today on the contemplative motherhood podcast. With us your host Erin Thomas and Chelsea Whipple

Chelsea Whipple  23:37  
to get regular updates on our podcast 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  23:51  
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