Lessons from a Majestic Mother (and Father)

by Patricia Spadaro

Want a quiet thrill to boost your springtime mood?

Put this at the top of your list:  watch this live webcam of a mother and father bald eagle and their newborn eaglets. The three babies hatched about 10 days ago and you can watch (and hear) them live 24 hours a day  (see more links at bottom of post too).

The non-profit Raptor Resource Project has live webcams of several birds’ nests, and the hottest one right now—high in a tree in Decorah, Iowa—will make you smile. Guaranteed.

WARNING: if you start watching this when you have something you really need to get done, you might be sorry. It’s hard to take your eyes off the tender, magnificent scene unfolding before your eyes.

While I was watching on and off yesterday, the father eagle arrived a couple of times with some fresh prey while the mother—constantly moving her head, watchful and protective—kneaded the nest with her huge talons and fed, cleaned, and tucked those little ones under her immense, warm body.

Why we can’t take our eyes off of you…

Why is this play of nature so fascinating to watch? There’s something deeply moving and resonant in watching the mama eagle gently rock back and forth, back and forth as she hovers over and snuggles her young beneath her. Something unbelievably heart-opening in the way those vulnerable little fledglings stumble and tumble over each other as mother and father take turns feeding them bits of fresh fish. And something awe-inspiring and comforting as the father spreads his enormous wings and lifts off from the nest on his next tour of duty—and then swoops down to visit and drop off a fresh catch.

Most of all, there is something grandly archetypal in this scene that touches our spirit and reminds us of beautiful, majestic, selfless motherhood in the deepest sense of that word.

We all long to be nestled by the great mother. And there is a part of each of us that is compelled to be “mother.” The mother is that part of you that nurtures and protects the emergence of new life. As we watch the mother eagle nourish her young with such majesty and aplomb, it reminds us of our own calling to nurture and protect what’s growing inside of us—and inside those who are in the circle of our care.

We are continually giving birth to something new within ourselves—whether it’s a budding sense of needed change, a seed of creativity waiting to be expressed, a recognition of a long-denied truth. We don’t always do it as well as we’d like to, or perhaps we didn’t have good role models. So it’s deeply satisfying to watch this beautiful mother (and father) energy playing out so naturally and masterfully before our eyes.

The mother eagle shows us what it means to be attentive, patient, wise—enfolding everything that matters under her broad, strong wings.

One has to prepare oneself for each new energy. Every expectant mother thinks about her future child. How then can one not think about the energy that lives within each of us? One has to think about one’s innate possibilities.”
Agni Yoga

Watching the sharp-eyed mother eagle and listening to the helpless chirps of her babies makes me think:

  • What possibilities am I giving birth to?
  • What part of me is the mother eagle?
  • What part of me is like those eaglets, needing nurturing and protection?
  • Am I giving that to myself—and feeding myself what I need to grow?
  • Am I giving that to my loved ones too?

It’s a clear night in Decorah now, and through the night vision camera of the webcam I can see the mother nest her head into her feathers and finally take a nap as one of her restless little ones peeps its curious head out from under her feathery tummy. Time for me to sleep, too—if only I could tear myself away from watching them. I wonder what they’ll be doing in the morning . . . and what dreams I’ll have tonight.

Some fun links:

Links to the live webcam of the Decorah eagles:

If you want to see the third eagle emerging from its egg:

Other nest cams:

Note about the image above, which is a screen capture from Ustream TV: Eagle, Falcons, and Osprey Cams (Raptor Resource Project ) / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Your Heart Is Wise

by Patricia Spadaro

HeartDo you turn to your heart when making decisions?

The world’s traditions are filled with poignant lessons that point to the wisdom of the heart. We learn from the sages that the voice of the heart will always tell us the right way to go in any situation.

In the ancient Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, when the sage Yajnavalkya is asked, “Where is the locality of truth?” he answers, “In the heart, for by the heart man knows truth.”

When you are attuned to your heart, you will know the appropriate response to any situation—whether to make a sacrifice for someone else or draw the line, whether to listen or say “enough,” whether to take a stand or let an issue go, whether to leave a relationship or hang on.

Instead of turning to our heart, though, we sometimes make our decisions based on how our defensive ego feels today or what our mind rationally tells us conforms to the rules of right and wrong we’ve grown up with.

Follow the Rules . . . or Follow Your Heart?

This tale from the Hasidic tradition of Judaism shows that rigidly defending the ego or following society’s rules and expectations can close down our capacity to respond wisely from our heart.

Every week a respected rabbi celebrated a weekly Sabbath meal with friends and students. One week, a new guest showed up. As the meal got underway, those attending looked with disdain on the newcomer, who was sloppily dressed and a bit crude. On top of it, seemingly without respect for the rabbi, the man pulled a large radish out of his pocket and gnawed away at it loudly. The rabbi, however, seemed not to notice.

One of the rabbi’s students, unable to stand it any longer, turned to the man and was about to reprimand him when the rabbi interrupted and said, “You know, I wish I had a nice big radish to eat with this wonderful meal.” Hearing the teacher’s words, the new guest reached into his pocket, pulled out another radish, and handed it to his host, who gave him a big smile and thanked him for his kindness.

Simple stories like this are full of symbology. This one tells us that when we catch ourselves judging our own or another’s behavior, we might just need to let the walls we’ve erected come crashing down so we can bask in the light of the heart.

Here’s another lesson that once again shows the power of the heart, this one handed down from the desert fathers, the Christian monks who lived as hermits in the deserts of Egypt. It tells of two young monks who once asked Abba Poemen what he thought they should do if they caught other monks asleep during prayer time. “Shouldn’t we pinch them to make them stay awake?” said the monks, bothered by this apparent disrespect of their holy ritual. “Well,” replied Abba Poemen, their more seasoned brother, “if I come across a brother who is sleeping, I place his head on my knees and let him rest.”

Sometimes the best choices we can make and the best gifts we can give are the ones that violate the rules we have about right and wrong.

Problem Solve from the Heart

The sages teach that being still and centering in our hearts can lead us to the best solutions to any problem. When you are facing a knotty issue or are just confused about what choice to make, look at it from a heart perspective.

  • Pick your favorite technique for centering in your heart before making a decision. If you don’t already use a technique, you can simply close your eyes, breathe deeply, and then visualize and feel a flame burning brightly in your heart. You can also recall an experience that makes you feel happy or grateful—a memory that makes the flame in your heart burn more intensely.
  • Once you feel a sense of joy or peace, turn back to the issue at hand.
  • Ask yourself: What is the best way for me to resolve this issue? What is my next step?
  • Then listen for the answer that arises.

The Power of Stillness

by Patricia Spadaro

Stillness creates strength. Does that seem like a paradox to you? It did to me the first time I encountered that concept, but that’s because I was convinced of this myth: Myth: Staying busy and constantly running to do more means I am strong—and successful. The Truth: Stillness creates strength (and busyness does not always […]

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What’s the Next Part of You Waiting to Be Born?

by Patricia Spadaro

What’s the next part of you waiting to be born? Are you listening to its voice? And what choices are you making to help it break through and blossom? That’s what I wrote about in my new article in the wonderful Creations Magazine (New York), April/May issue.  Read the full article below or at their […]

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Honor the Signs and Symbols in Your Life

by Patricia Spadaro

“You must accept the truth from whatever source it comes.” —Maimonides Have you stumbled upon any signs or symbols in unexpected places lately—messages meant just for you? I have. I’ve been taking some time this summer to contemplate my next projects and have been working my way through folders and folders of ideas—scraps of paper […]

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Keeping Your Life Fresh and Fun

by Patricia Spadaro

At a book signing for my new book Honor Yourself last summer, I met a special young lady who taught me to appreciate the “firsts” in life—no matter what age we are. She was about 5 or 6 years old, and she told me about a trip she would be making in a few months […]

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