How to Get Found
October 4, 2010 § 1 Comment
Yesterday was a hard day in our house. Disgruntled kids, tired parents, too much on the agenda. I went to bed thinking about all the mistakes I make daily as a mother, as a wife, as a daughter, and as a friend. But this morning, the sun shone through the windows as both boys climbed into bed with us. Like little puppies, they eradicate any sense of blue.
And yoga today, where for some reason, things are revealed to me that normally, I don’t see. Truly, it is the doorway to my life, a well-paved entrance to a sense of truth that has nothing to do with right or wrong, good or bad. This afternoon, as we held Warrior I pose for five breaths, something clicked in me, something that seemed so obvious I wondered how I could have questioned it yesterday. There is something about that pose that can make the weakest person feel powerful. Something about rooting into the earth while lifting up your hands in a prayer that brings answers. Yesterday, i was so worried about whether or not it is OK to show feelings around our children, and if so, how much? Today, in Warrior I pose, I realized that feelings aren’t the problem – are never the problem. It’s only our reaction to the feeling that can be scary. And if we are skillful, we can simply be, rather than react. We can be vulnerable but strong; afraid but courageous. We can be angry but not yell. We can be sad but not sobbing.
Last evening, during dinner, we discussed crying. How adults cry when they are happy and they cry when they are sad. I told my son that when I was about six, I used to cry every time I heard John Denver sing “Sunshine on My Shoulders.” My son laughed. “That’s silly,” he said. “Silly mama,” said the baby. “Silly dada.” “I cry when I hit my head,” said Oliver.
Karen Maezen Miller wrote an amazing essay (entitled The Dharma of Barbie) on children and their lack of judgement. She writes: It’s such a burden, our high-mindedness, and it gets us nowhere. Oh, we might inch along far enough to trade one idea for another, but that’s nowhere new. We’re still bogged down by our biases, hamstrung by principles and blinded by the inviolability of our opinions.
Children have none of our hangups and restrictions. They have no idea that TV is bad or carrots are good. They don’t yet know that anger is bad and happiness is good. To them it is all equal. It is all fresh. It is only us silly adults who put such emotional weight on what is supposedly right and wrong. I also received a beautiful note from Katrina Kenison, who wrote: If I’ve learned anything as a mother, it’s to allow my kids to feel what they feel and to let myself do the same. …What a relief it is, too, to be seen, heard, acknowledged. And there is a kind of relief in just allowing everything to be exactly as it is–to quote Adyashanti.
That sentiment, those words are the home from which I seem to wander away frequently. So I printed them out and hung them on the inside of my kitchen cabinet, the door I open a million times a day to retrieve cups and bowls and plates. It’s such a wise statement but one I think children already know. I watch my sons hug each other, joyfully, full of love, despite the fact that they have a conflict over a toy or book approximately once every twelve minutes. I watch as Gus, the baby tries to hit me when he is frustrated, and then a second later throws his arms around me, as if he knew what he needed all along but was just trying out another option.
Today, while holding Warrior I pose yet again, I started judging myself. My tailbone wasn’t tucked in correctly. And how exactly was I supposed to tuck my tailbone down and lift my heart up? I just couldn’t do this pose. I would never get this pose ….
And then I heard another voice inside my head, which said, Stay calm. Don’t freak out. Our yoga teacher gave us that advice last week while she asked us to hold plank pose for many more breaths than was comfortable. “Just stay calm,” she said. “It’s no big deal. Screwing up your face isn’t going to help.” That could be the best parenting advice ever. It could be the best advice about life ever: All a feeling wants is to be felt. All anyone wants is to be heard. There is a kind of relief in allowing everything to be exactly as it is. Just stay calm. It’s no big deal.
Once again, you write beautifully about the things that are so pressing in my mind … what a great idea, to put words to remind ourselves of something we KNOW is true (yet forget over and over again) somewhere we will see them … My reactions are so strong, so powerful, so difficult to short-circuit and avoid – you are absolutely right that that is where the difficulty and pain comes from. I’m still figuring out how to take the energy out of those reactions, though.