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Empowering the Feminine: Women's History in Meditation and 7 Archetypal Practices


Woman standing on riverfront releasing flower petals as an act of meditating and letting go


The tapestry of women's history in meditation is woven with threads of resilience, wisdom, and spiritual exploration. Despite the challenges of preserving detailed records, influential women have significantly shaped the development and popularization of many meditation practices across cultures and epochs. From ancient Indian "rishikas" to contemporary meditation teachers, women have played pivotal roles. Today, as more women embrace their own meditation practices, and learn to guide others, a fascinating connection emerges between feminine archetypes and contemplative arts.


Women Pioneers in Meditation


In ancient India, the Rigveda celebrated female seers who actively engaged in contemplative practices. Similarly, the Therigatha, a collection of poems by early Buddhist nuns, documented the experiences of women practitioners in meditation and enlightenment, highlighting their profound involvement in spiritual pursuits. Many more women seekers and teachers have come in between, many of whom have not been recognized or documented. 


In modern times, there are many women teachers leading the way. More women than ever are adopting their own meditation practices and training to acquire the skills to show others how to reunite with their inner selves. Here are a few modern female meditation teachers that every woman (meditation practitioner or meditation teacher) should explore. You can find their talks and practices online on youtube, insight timer, or at their respective websites.


Pema Chödrön: An American Tibetan Buddhist nun and prolific author, Pema Chödrön has influenced many with her teachings on meditation, compassion, and mindfulness.


Sharon Salzberg: Co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) and a prominent figure in the mindfulness movement.


Tara Brach: A mindfulness and meditation teacher, psychologist, and author. Tara Brach has focused on integrating Buddhist teachings with psychological insights, making meditation accessible and applicable.


Joan Halifax: A Zen priest, Buddhist teacher, anthropologist, and activist, is the founder and head teacher at Upaya Zen Center, a Buddhist monastery. She has recently authored a book delving into "edge states" such as altruism, empathy, integrity, respect, and engagement, exploring our challenges with their shadow aspects.




woman sitting outside meditating

Connecting Feminine Archetypes and Meditation


Meditation can serve as a profound tool for self-discovery, helping women identify and connect with specific archetypal energies that resonate with their authentic selves. This journey of self-exploration allows women to embrace and celebrate their innate feminine qualities like intuition and compassion to view them as points of strength rather than obstacles or disadvantages. Women can accentuate their strengths when creating their own unique practices or guiding others in meditation practices. 



Here are 7 feminine archetypes and practices that help to cultivate them through meditation.


The Mother

Many types of meditation can become a conduit for connecting with nurturing instincts, fostering self-love, and compassion. Practices like Metta meditation and meditations on empathy and open-mindedness help us extend compassion and caring not only to oneself, but also help us radiate those qualities outward, embodying the qualities of the Mother archetype.


The Warrior

Present-moment awareness, one-pointed concentration, and other types of mindfulness meditation can empower women to develop intense mental resilience and self-control that they can then use to take decisive action to better their lives and move towards growth and transformation, embodying the courageous and determined qualities of the Warrior archetype.


The Sage/Wise Woman

Contemplation meditation encourages introspection and tapping into deeper inner wisdom, aligning with the archetype of the wise woman. Bringing the nervous system into a calm state with slow breathings and then focusing on more reflective practices like asking oneself:  ‘Who am I? I am not the body, I am not the mind…’, ‘Are there boundaries to my mind, or does it extend as far as I can imagine?’ and ‘Why am I here?’, can help us reflect on the purpose of life and our gifts.


The Lover

Loving-kindness meditation and self-love exercises like mirror work combined with positive affirmations deepen the connection with different levels of emotion, facilitate personal healing, create self intimacy, and can enhance the experience of love and sensuality, which is characteristic of the Lover archetype.


The Creatrix

Meditation stimulates creativity by quieting the mind, allowing new insights and ideas to arise, and enhancing focus and output. Research shows that a combination of open-awareness meditation practice and concentration meditation can strengthen the outflow of creative ideas and the ability to follow through on creative projects, boosting the innovative qualities of the Creatrix archetype.


The Mystic

Meditation practices like third eye focus, trataka (one-pointed attention while gazing at a cand;e flame), and visualizations of ancient archetypal images can help to deepen the connection to the divine and the collective unconscious, aligning with the spiritual and psychic qualities of the Mystic archetype.


The Queen

Practices like crown chakra meditation can help you connect to that which is beyond you— all people, all beings, all planets, all that is and was. Focus on the crown chakra, located at the top of the head. This energy center is associated with divine connection and higher states of consciousness. Visualize a shining crown just above your head, with bright, beautiful light radiating outwards in every direction. This symbolizes your regal presence and connection to divine wisdom.



Woman standing in nature with a crown on


Today, as women actively engage in meditation and explore the nuances of feminine archetypes, they not only honor the contributions of their ancestors but also pave the way for a more profound and inclusive exploration of the contemplative arts. By creating, practicing and sharing archetypal meditations, women can forge a path to empowerment, and celebrate the strength and diversity inherent in their communal  spiritual journeys.



 
Founder of CNTRD Meditation Jessica Crow meditating with eyes closed

Jessica Crow is the founder of

CNTRD Wellness and CNTRD Meditation.

She helps people harness the power of meditation and mindfulness to change their lives and the lives of others through practical classes and courses for the everyday practitioner and budding meditation teachers.


Follow her on Insight Timer or Subscribe to her Podcast to listen to free guided meditations.


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