Rekha Kurup is a down-to-earth, profoundly evolved person. She also happens to be a part of Vibha Women’s mentor panel. I have known her for a year now and am happy and proud to watch the time that her brand is speaking out, loud and clear.
She facilitates Vibha’s anniversary celebration with a deeply meaningful workshop for our members this February 13th. Read on to catch a glimpse into this strong woman’s mind and heart!
I see myself as a boundary weaver, women-centered spirituality/feminine leadership coach, a feminist yogini and a rising daughter called upon to stand tall bearing the fruits of her ancestry and weaving her way forward – among other things. 🙂
I was one of 147 Women leaders from around the world chosen to be part of the 2015 Class of the VVLead Fellowship Program from a highly competitive pool of over 1200 outstanding applicants. In Jan 2016 I have transitioned into a VVLead Alumni – part of the Global VVLead Team. I am an avid reader and also a writer. I published my first book (a research study) in December 2014 in India titled Rising Daughter, Silent Mother and Fading Grandmothers. Available on flipkart, amazon.
I have cherished every journey of my life from being an Computer Engineer over a decade long career in Silicon Valley of California to volunteering with non profits to organizing a variety of peace building events to being a mentor for youth and adults to building partnerships and bridges between community groups and more. My deepest calling was always to be of service to the community.
Being in California deeply nourished that desire as I volunteered vigorously and passionately in different capacities in partnership with the Schools, Universities, NGOS, City and County. I was an active volunteer with the Art of Living Foundation, International Association for Human Values and several other ngos. When life presented the opportunity to shift careers in 2005, I chose to quit my high paying IT career to humbler beginnings in the nonprofit community. It was supposed to be a sabbatical for 6 months to a year but then never could go back into a regular paying 9 to 5 job. I volunteered for over 2 years with universities, local schools – teaching stress management, mentoring, capacity building, peace partnerships, organizing events/seminars/discussion forums and more.
In late 2008 I took on the role of Executive Director of the YES! for Schools Program in California (youthempowermentseminar.org) which extended to nearly 5 years. Along with the National Director, William Herman, we built the program ground up – envisioning, goal setting, recruiting, training, campaigning, fundraising and more. Our collective effort built a phenomenal team as well as movement across the country that impacted and is still continuing to impact thousands of lives of students, educators in the United States. During that time I saw up-close the impacts of patriarchal urbanization and the direct impact of sexualization and objectification on the bodies and sexuality of men and women – especially women and girls.
As a backdrop to everything going on, the traumatic collapse of my own decade long marriage (2010). Everything happened in a way that was deeply awakening and made me question everything – women’s relationship with her body and sexuality, her purpose separate from the roles she plays, her inability to recognize as well as respond to abuse in marriages, gender perceptions based on cultural and social conditioning, “do”s and “don’t”s of feminine identity, the age-old dogmas defining womanhood, the shame, disgust and silence surrounding body and sexuality, and most importantly the direct and indirect influences of mother-centered and father-centered cultures on body, sexuality and self.
I knew that there was more to me as a woman than I have been told or had access to because I experienced it in powerful embodied ways and yet in the living culture – images of that power were visibly absent. So I set out on my next adventure that took me to Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP) for my Masters of Art in Women’s Spirituality. ITP and California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) are the only two schools in the world that have a program that allows women to rediscover women-centered spirituality, leadership, spiritual feminism and more. It changed the entire course of my life and gifted me my purpose.
Now for the Aha moment!
My life is filled with AHA moments I think for as long as I can remember. Every AHA moment has moved me to the next level of my life. So this AHA moment brought me here where I am today. It happened when Theorist and activist educator, and co-director of the Women’s Spirituality program – Judy Grahn, interviewed me prior to enrolling me in the program. During the interview she asked about my matrilineal Nayar roots of Kerala which I was not very particularly connected with and not connecting with my empowerment and purpose. However little did I know that my life was going to shift phenomenally. Dr Grahn informed me that for the last 20 years she as well as the co-director of the program Dr. Dianne Jenett have had a close association with Kerala’s earth-based spirituality, and have done considerable research, and in fact, it had been their deepest wish and longing for a Nayar girl to come to the program and there I was sitting right in front. In the past there had been just another Indian girl in the program. So me a Nayar girl sitting in that room for that interview was really a surreal happening. It was meant to be! That interview as well as that program brought me back to my ancestry in a way that I never imagined. It has also set the course of the rest of my life and what I do today. Women-Spirituality M.A program gave me the opportunity to investigate, re-inform, gather, discover, reclaim, remember, and re-member that phenomenon that is Woman and the magic she embodies, is born with, is connected to, is capable of creating and invoking in others – in ways that I was never aware of.
Today I work with women from around the world to revive that wisdom rooted in their own ancestry, lineage, culture, and more. Women hae experienced deep healing, empowerment, awakening through the various offerings of the she stands tall project. In 2013 I decided to end 14 years of my life in California to explore transition to Bangalore, India. In 2014 I knew that I had to be in India and revive this wisdom that seems to have gone completely underground from the visible social culture. This is a sentence from my book that captures some of my experience:
“I was beginning to realize that my feminine body and sexuality served no purpose outside marriage, belonging to a man, or becoming a mother. Although fully clothed, naked, and erotic images of the Goddess adorned temple walls and palaces, these images did not have any relevance to the living bodies of women in my culture.“
On her Target Audience
In partnership with my mother, Balamani Kurup, I have launched The She Stands Tall Project LLP in Bangalore, India whose mission is to create sacred, open and safe sisterhood containers that support the personal, relational and transpersonal exploration of the Feminine. Our vision is for women (and girls) to become catalysts of transformative change within themselves, their families, their communities and the world. We do so by educating, empowering and engaging women to reclaim, redefine, and re-inform the various factors that positively affirms a woman’s relationship with her body, sexuality and self through the investigation, discovery, documentation, revival and re-creation of practices and methods that support and nurture the development of a gender egalitarian society.
It is a massive vision and undertaking and definitely, a beginning and bringing together of women doing similar work around the world. Together we can shift the patriarchal roots of culture and social organization.
On Embracing Challenge
Challenges have been numerous in different disguises, guises, faces, shapes and sizes. 🙂 Every challenge is a doorway to greater possibilities, an adventure, an opportunity to own the realization that I am more powerful than anything and everything that can come my way.
There is a deep wisdom that seats rooted inside of me that pulsates with everything in this universe. I am not an independent being but an interdependent alive vibrant being interconnected with everything on this planet. When I am focused on the greater good of the entire web of life – challenges cease to bog me down – they merely are milestones for pause, regrouping, relearning and beginning again with a fresh perspective and renewed energy. I meditate, breathe, and ritualize through every aspect of my life with intention, attention, faith and surrender. I live my life inside out consciously, compassionately and connectedly and know that I am merely an instrument of walking my purpose on the earth at this time. When that changes I will know and I will be ready to transition to newer pastures in this body or another.
Predominantly Word of Mouth. Those who have experienced a women’s circle with The She Stands Tall Project never forget it and they spread it and bring more into the circle. We also partner with other organizations, schools, institutes and others. The faculty, alumni of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology are also one of the strong advocates for the work and help spread the word.
For that first I need to understand what anyone means by business. Most business that I see and have seen in todays world are about self-centered profit – disconnected from those around. It has become about force, domination, self-success, power and fame. So I definitely donot subscribe to that idea and paradigm about business. 🙂
My parameters of success are connected to transformational impact in terms of people, life, society, earth, environment, and more!I follow a feminine business paradigm for my work in the world and there are many who inspire me that direction: Joanna Macy, Starhawk, Shilop McCleod, Anne Blumenthal, Jennifer Berezan, Luisa Teish, and many more! Women who are doing phenomenal work in the world in shifting it, transforming it, and also making money and putting money back into the world!
Advice for Entrepreneurs
Let the entrepreneur in you have a deeper vision for yourself, the community, the earth, the environment and the world, and let that vision move, create – your work, services, product. May your entrepreneurship create, recreate and reniform solutions in the world, for the world and with the world – let it not become the source of more problems, conflict and unrest. Build your entrepreneurship on values that inspire deepest human qualities.
For more details about business
Website link: theshestandstallproject.com Facebook/Twitter/Linkedin/Pinterest/Google+ links: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheSheStandsTallProject Linked: https://in.linkedin.com/in/rekhagkurup Twitter: https://twitter.com/KurupRekha Company Page: https://www.facebook.com/sthreestandstall Email/Phone number for Business enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org | +91-9972490513
The author is a Social Entrepreneur and Learner