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Daoist Tips For The 21st Century - The Mother of Us All

by Vicki McKenna(more info)

listed in chinese oriental medicine, originally published in issue 258 - November 2019


The woman who tucks in your label on the bus; the woman who packs up the leftovers for your lunch the next day; the woman who knits you a hat for winter; the woman who shows you where the kettle is on your first day; the woman who walks you to your first class in a new building; the woman who wipes toothpaste off your cheek before a big meeting; the woman who makes you a birthday cake; the woman who swearily, hilariously berates your ex: we all have many mothers, and are mothers to each other. [1]

The Divine Mother

You do not have to give birth to be a mother, to know about mothering. I know many women and men who have not given birth but who are in fact the most motherly of people. The childless aunt who loved and nurtured me as a child, a male teacher who treated me with warmth and understanding, my child free friend who is intuitive and sympathetic – I have been fortunate to know many people who are firmly connected to their Inner Mother. We all, women and men, have an Inner Mother and She gives us the ability to nurture and care for ourselves and each other. Furthermore She gives us the security and confidence to handle the ups and downs in our lives.


kuan Yin College

Left - Kuan Yin: Accessing the Power of the Divine Feminine by Daniela Schenker


Right - Kuan Yin Compassion -


The principle of the Divine Mother is present in every religion – Mary the mother of Jesus in Christianity, Tara in Buddhism – both embody the motherly qualities of warmth and compassion. In Hinduism Shakti is the personification of divine feminine creative power, sometimes referred to as "The Great Divine Mother". The principle of the Mother is central to Daoism – it is the Dao that is referred to as the Mother who gives birth to everything –nurturing the “ten thousand things”. She is seen as the root of Heaven and Earth and everything manifests from Her. Daoism and Buddhism eventually fused in China to produce an image of the Divine Mother in Kuan Yin – she who hears and listens to suffering humanity.

How do we know if we are connected to our Inner Mother? When we are aware of the qualities inherent in all of us of warmth, compassion , nurturance and openness we are in fact connecting with the Mother – the Dao within. When we let go of controlling, achieving, criticising and judging and instead flow with life and yield to the circumstances we find ourselves in – accepting and trusting our intuition then we are connected within to the Dao, the Mother. This is the way of Wu- Wei – the art of not striving after goals, instead learning to be in the world gently, harmoniously, as a Mother.

When we let go of trying to impose our will, pushing and striving then we allow the Dao to flow spontaneously – we are connecting with the Mother. In Daoist terms this spontaneity is known as Tsu-Jan – that which is of itself, something happening instinctively with no forcing of will. This instinctive response is the way of the Mother, the Dao. Life consists of cycles of change and so often we try to interfere with change, to manipulate circumstances to suit us and in our non-acceptance of our situation we exhaust ourselves and wind up discontented, unhappy. Instead we need to let life flow in the way of Wu-Wei and Tsu-Jan – never striving, simply going with the flow, confident and secure, instinctively knowing how to respond to the needs of the moment as they arise – these are the traits of the Mother within. It is especially relevant to live like this in the crazy hurly burly of the 21st century. Rushing around like spoilt children wanting instant gratification the human race has become more and more consumerist, more materialistic, less content and more disconnected from the Inner Mother. How has this disconnect happened?


Rita Loyd Nurturing Art

Courtesy Rita Loyd Nurturing Art


Tapping into the Mother

After conception we grow in a safe secure womb until we are born. When that massive change occurs we are shot out into the action-packed world; unsurprisingly our calm universe is shattered. Now we feel alone – ejected from our safe space and immediately we feel an isolating sense of separation and a deep sense of fear. Many of us then live our lives reacting to this feeling of fear and cling like scared children to anything that brings us security – food, entertainment, achievements, relationships, drugs – any of the ‘ten thousand things’ that will bring us a fleeting sense of comfort. In this way we try to control life holding onto whatever makes us comfortable and pushing away whatever makes us uncomfortable. Thus we fail to thrive and grow emotionally and spiritually – remaining instead stuck and stagnant. We are often aware that there is something lacking but we look in the wrong places to help ourselves. We are often blind to the Mother within each and all of us – an ever present and constant source of deep security and comfort – that stable rooted part of ourselves that simply needs to be tapped into .

For some people this sense of comfort and security is something they are in tune with from their earliest days – these are the people who are naturally motherly as described by Nell Frizell above. When you can yield in the way of Wu Wei to life's circumstances, when you can find yourself responding positively and healthily, as in Tsu-Jan, to whatever arises in the moment then you are naturally aligning with the Mother within – confident and trusting, safe and secure. For others of us there is perhaps a disconnect with our Inner Mother – trauma in infancy and a lack of nurturing in our early years can result in an inability to connect easily with the Mother within. Lacking this innate sense of security we seek comfort from the outside, pushing and striving and exhausting ourselves. Meditating on the Inner Mother can help us relax and re align with this source of nurturing strength within. Practise the following meditation daily – give yourself at least 20 minutes daily to connect with your loving Inner Mother.

Inner Mother Meditation

Sit with your scared inner child and listen to its worries and fears, its criticisms and judgements. Imagine your mind as if it were your Inner-Child, which needs love, support, emotional and spiritual guidance. Now be the loving, sympathetic, caring guide that will comfort that inner child. Reassure the child that you and she/he are at one – never apart, never separated and that all is well. Allow yourself this process daily and you will come to trust this inner guidance knowing that, thanks to the quiet presence of the Mother, the Dao, you can yield and respond to life's ups and downs – you have the calm quiet strength to handle whatever comes along.


1. Nell Frizell


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About Vicki McKenna

Vicki McKenna BA Lic Ac trained at The College of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture in Leamington Spa with Professor Worsley from 1981 gaining her Lic Ac. in 1984 and has been practising acupuncture in Scotland since then. Her book A Balanced Way Of Living; Practical and Holistic Strategies for Coping with Post Polio Syndrome is available from 



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