I’ve been in newborn-land for the last few months, writing here and there but not posting! Today I’m back with just a little on how yoga continues to help me in my everyday life–the “Big Yoga,” that is. I haven’t actually had much time for my asana practice (the movement and poses part), either at home or in classes, but thankfully I’m (sometimes!) aware of when I’m practicing Yoga nonetheless: the overarching philosophies and ethical precepts that are, I would argue, even more important.
One huge thing for me in these last several weeks has been the practice of self-compassion. Since March when Elias was born, I’ve been “that lady” several times–the one you see grocery shopping while nursing a crying baby in a sling and reasoning with her whining three-year-old about not climbing on the cart. Or doing her best to be “firm but kind” when the three year old is screaming and kicking, while trying to also keep the baby fast asleep (Ha!). And on and on… Lots of ungraceful moments is what I’m saying. Lots of messy, messy life moments where my armpits get hot and it takes all my effort not to blow my top. And then sometimes I blow my top. And then I feel guilty or “less than”–less than all the other patient and kind mothers out there who seem to be able to give endlessly without ever yelling at their kids or complaining to their friends about how hard motherhood is.
But the thing is, that is simply an idea–an archetype that exists somewhere in my head. Archetypes are important as archetypes, but that human who never loses it (in whatever way they might lose it), does not exist. Yoga tells us that each of us has our struggles, our flaws, our pain, and that all of it makes sense. Even the “craziest” or darkest people you’ve ever met are simply responding to life in a way that would make perfect sense if you knew more about them. They’re doing the very best they can with what they have right now, and are absolutely no less than you in any real way. And furthermore, even if this “perfect” mother did exist, Yoga urges us to embrace the diversity in life and to work with what we have. To feel what is happening right now (satya), whether it is disappointment or joy or anger or fatigue, and let it be, let it flow.
Which brings me to another saving grace for me lately: remembering impermanence. I’m much better at this with kid number two, because I’ve lived through so much change and growth with the first boy. And even still, there are moments where, despite logic, I have the sense that I’m trapped in this phase of my baby waking often in the night, or needing to be held so much, or whatever it is. My head knows that my baby will not still be nursing at age three, or demanding diapers at five, but I sometimes feel like the pace of change is not fast enough to keep up with my deep desire for more rest, more peace, more time to myself again. But if I can just search deep, I can feel a certain knowledge in my body: that I should, when possible, spend my time cherishing the positive parts of each day, each week, each phase, because growth is always happening just under the surface of everything. The ungraceful cluster-fucks will become funny stories, and what I view as “clinging” now will melt into memories of physical closeness that can’t be recreated. The struggle of teaching over and over (and over…) lessons of peace and non-harming (ahimsa) will bear fruit one day as I watch my children include the black sheep on the playground or apologize to someone they’ve hurt.
We do our best, knowing that–while our children (or partners, or work goals, or whatever) will not always be exactly what we want them to be–we must use our influence well nonetheless. We put in our effort and sweat and work (tapas) and then let go, in faith (ishvara pranidhana) that we are part of bigger contexts.
Thank you, Yoga. Keep it up, because I’m only just now shifting from the mommy of a newborn into the mommy of an infant. LOTS more ungraceful and hilarious moments lie ahead.