Hello! I know, I know, it has been a while, almost two months to be exact. I haven’t exactly been hiding my head under sand, though at times I have felt tempted to do just that. No, mostly it has been about trying to stay as gracefully in flow with what I call the rolling river of life. A river that sometimes feels relentless and roaring while at others it is gentle and gracious.
I know that I have shared with you some of my challenges over the last months of being a new mom and balancing that with my life and work. I had one of those moments today – this feeling of ineptitude – of wondering why am I not out saving the world and helping women in my homeland of India via teaching yoga or in some other way or why am I unable to even get out of the house some mornings before 11 a.m. And then I had to stop and remind myself. I have a young son. I am his primary caregiver. Not necessarily completely by choice, but definitely by circumstance. I am trying to walk that fine balance of working from home and parenting a child in an integrated, holistic way that speaks to our values and lifestyle. I also believe, as I know so many of you do, that investing this time at this stage in our son’s development is going to allow him to thrive and embody his fullest being. It means that he will feel love and feel cared for by those he is closest to at this young age and I know it will inform the quality of his life ahead specifically his ability to withstand and thrive amidst the challenges and curve balls of life – haven’t you noticed how our obstacles become stronger, the older we get?
One of my favourite Sunday routines is reading the New York times weekend edition. There are so many days however, when I am stunned and deeply saddened by what I read. From the coverage about the gun shooting at sandy hook elementary school – in which an article inferred that the perpetrator was distant and not able to express himself to those closest to him i.e. his family; to another story about how a young man died because of his addiction and abuse of ADHD drugs –which he was able to get by faking symptoms at his college medical clinic; to another piece about how the N.R.A. directly targets youth to create future gun owners.
After I rolled through the emotions of sadness, despair and anger, I finally arrived at a place of questioning. I began to question why as a society, we have become so easy to self medicate, so adept at pulling a trigger and yet so shocked when these things happen, even whilst the signs that they are happening are all around us.
I think we’re dealing with these situations because we’ve forgotten a few simple life lessons.
1. We’ve forgotten how to communicate when we’re upset or sad or down.
In fact, most often when we are upset, we don’t allow ourselves to be with the sadness. We try to distract ourselves, be it by going shopping (there’s a reason it’s called retail therapy), or we watch TV, or we call a friend, or we have sex, or we go on a 20 mile run. There’s different methods of coping yet none address the issue that’s deep within. I try to work through this in the way I parent. If my son is upset about something, e.g. today we were walking home and he wanted a child’s truck behind a garden fence. I tried to explain that it didn’t belong to us and we could not take it. He did not agree. He is two. He cried and cried and was red in the face. I tried to stay firm and calm and just repeated what I had said. We reached home and I held him in my arms and let him cry a little while longer until he calmed down. He did. He went down for a nap with a sweet, tear stained face, but he worked that emotion out through his body somehow. He was peaceful.
Body Mind psychotherapist Susan Aposhyan calls the stuffing up “emotional constipation.” It’s an apt analogy. We have to keep things moving, or we get rigid and hard and crack open all too easily, while really we are meant to be supple, pliable and adaptable. Yoga helps me to work things through my body, so does a run albeit in a different way. If you have a practice that works for you, cultivate it. It will allow you to keep the channels open and not get stuck.
2. We believe that a pill is a quick fix.
We can procrastinate all we want, but somehow a pill is going to get us through those med school exams or give us the confidence to ace an interview. I am in no way referring to situations where medicine can be essential to surviving and thriving because of real learning disabilities – what I find hard to swallow is our cavalier attitude towards pills – we are so happy to pop them and allay our symptoms instead of addressing the heart of what may be wrong.
Whatever happened to actually cultivating the passion for doing something that fulfills you deeply? Or being able to unplug from the digital world enough so you can cultivate true focus and concentration instead of living in a hyper stimulated world where you cannot think? When was the last time you truly unplugged, got quiet and stopped?
3. We’ve forgotten that it does take work.
Even though Malcolm Gladwell reminded us so eloquently that successful people have been doing whatever they’re so successful at for at least 10,000 hours, we don’t seem to “get” it. I know I’m guilty of this. There’s a reason a writing practice is called just that, a “practice.” It implies you have to do it consistently – ideally every day. Poet Ellen Bass reminded me of that when I took her inspiring writing workshop at Esalen.
My biggest challenge personally has been getting back to my pre-baby strength and fitness. I went through a roller coaster ride last year of being inconsistent with my yoga practice and running, using the baby as an excuse for the lack of time in my life, until it finally hit me, I have to focus on my health so I can be a better mother, partner and person. I have to do this everyday, because it takes work to make it my practice once again. It has made a difference. I do feel different, I feel stronger, more calm and I notice how much happier I am around my little one as well.
I’m not exactly sure why I went down this train of thoughts today, but I hope that these words inspire you to think about how you spend time with your family, your friends, your loved ones, how you nourish yourself; and whether you allow yourself time to process and digest emotion and experience.
I love how yoga is analogous to living life mindfully and what i keep returning to today, is how we need to keep creating the conditions to sow down deep roots so that we can support ourselves and our communities as we reach up through both the challenges and light filled moments that make our lives complex, rich and fulfilling.
Thank you for reading.
I have some interviews that i am going to post soon with some inspiring women as well as a guest post by a wonderful writer. Stay tuned.
NAMASTE and have a lovely rest of the week.