Listed is a new series where we give a platform to local voices who have a story to tell. First up is local mindfulness practitioner, Samata Russell.
Like many of us, Samata spent years putting on a brave face and sweeping her true feelings under the carpet. She describes how she reached the point where something had to give, and shares how she was finally able to 'remove the mask' and find her authentic self.
by Samata Russell
About 9 years ago now, I started feeling my feelings - and it was a game changer. Before that I had learned to disassociate from my body, put on a brave face and sweep my discomfort under the carpet like the good girl I had been trained to be.
I came out to breathe at yoga classes, curled up in bed with a good book, or on a wild night out with the girls. But when I had children, the pockets in which I could breathe were few and far between and the stresses much greater. Something had to give, because the carpet sweeping method wasn’t working anymore.
I had been doing yoga for almost a decade at this point and trained in a meditation style called vipassana, which involves deeply listening to the body. I took part in an 8-week mindfulness programme which served as a bridge between those disciplines and my modern life.
I started to open up to myself in each moment as I actually was, not who I thought I needed to be. I gently opened to my frustration, fear and challenge, meeting the raw truth inside instead of creating a brittle façade.
I learned that the mask I had developed was actually a trauma response, that in fact any split from the true self is a trauma response and that we cannot selectively numb ourselves. When we numb the negative emotions we also numb the positive. We waste huge amounts of energy in internal conflict, pushing down the truth of how we feel and we also severely inhibit our ability to form honest, healthy relationships.
Alarmingly, I began to realise what an absolute epidemic of mask wearing, rug sweeping, people-pleasing is going on. This affects both genders, but in different ways.
For women, there is a real split in the female psyche born out of thousands of years of patriarchal conditioning, what some call the double bind or the virgin/whore split. Be assertive, but not too assertive. Sexy, but not too sexy. Be GOOD, do it all and don’t let them see you sweat.
I see women everywhere doing their best to be good girls and losing themselves along the way.
I think there comes a point in every woman’s life when she has a choice: To continue over-extending herself, compromising her own health and wellbeing OR to become an inner archaeologist and discover who she really is.
Authentic feminine expression and power, in my opinion, is what the world needs more of. A healthy, aligned, vibrant woman is connected with her body, her emotions and her intuition and is driven from within. She knows how to set healthy boundaries and is in touch with her cycles and her true nature.
There is a process we need to go on to cast off our masks and meet the soul within – a ‘journey’ as most people say. It’s not an easy thing. It’s vulnerable and takes tremendous courage, but oh my goodness is it rewarding. Connecting with the truth of who you are creates the capacity to feel deep joy, connection and belonging. In order to be really seen and accepted, you have to fully show up.
So that’s what I do now. I run mindfulness courses and a programme I developed called Soul Embodiment, where women journey to love and accept themselves in community, realising there’s no shame in any of it and they are not alone.
Samata helps you to connect to yourself, connect to your kids and connect to your calling through her mindfulness course. She teaches ways of working with your own emotions, learning to accept yourself as you are so that you and your family can thrive.
For more info and to download your free 20 minute guided meditation from Samata, head over to Wise Mamas