Parenting. An Advanced Yoga Practice.
Like the gift that keeps on giving, my recent articles on being less than perfect continue to spawn debate and even “rebuttal” articles here on Elephant.
I won’t write an article in kind (I already wrote that one on this subject). Acknowledging the author’s stated inability to know what having children is actually like, it’s admittedly not easy to fit the role of yogi into family life. And there aren’t many ancient texts to help us along the way, are there? Yoga is, historically speaking, a male tradition, despite the many women who now practice—the ancient texts were written by and for men.
How about a little sutra, from the parenting perspective? I can’t lay them all down here, but how about a few?
1.1 The teachings of yoga (parenting) begin now. As in, the diapers won’t wait, the kids are hungry now. Get moving.
1.2-3Parenting is vigilance, awareness and stillness of mind. It will bring you drama, tribulation and unspeakable joy. It will make you question who you are, who you think you are and your role in this world.
1.3-5Your true Self knows that these trials and triumphs are for a greater purpose. The stories you tell yourself, about yourself, are fiction that distract you from getting the laundry folded when you’d rather be meditating. Silly yogini. Meditate while folding the laundry.
1.7 Right knowledge is gained through experience and reflection on the teachings. Talk to your mama when you need advice, she’s been there before.
1.15-16 Let go of your attachments and free yourself from desire. You cannot be anywhere but here, no matter how crunchy it gets, no matter how loud the crying, how stinky the diaper, no matter how many of your non-parenting friends are in that yoga class you can’t be at. This is now. Look into the eyes of your sweet babe and find contentment right there.
1.20-21 Remember your true self. Not the baby throw up on your shoulder or the mashed cookies in your carseat, not the dirty dishes in your sink or the dirty bed-hair. You are a divine being with limitless capability and infinite beauty.
1.27-29 Chant OM to your babies in the belly. Chant OM to your children during the day. Align your small world with the universal vibration.
1.31 Stress will disturb your breathing. Inhale and notice the breath. Let it out slowly. Peace.
1.32 Still your mind and experience the vastness inside. Practice this with the TV blaring, dog barking and kids arguing and know that peace is within. Even when the storm rages around you, peace is always within.
1.33 Surround yourself with people who hold the same values as you, to be role models to you and your children. But be careful not to become aloof to others who have differences. Have complete compassion for all mothers, for they walk the same path as you, no matter what direction they are headed.
1.35 Listen to the hidden sounds. When they are too quiet you know they are up to something.
1.37 Meditate on the divine Mother. Her compassion is boundless.
1.38 Learn to meditate on anything, anywhere, anytime. Let your thoughts still as you point your mind to the task at hand. Be present.
1.50 Birth is the symbol of primordial creation. Just as you were birthed and gave birth, so the universe was birthed. Align yourself with the primal substance of creation.
2.6-8 When you become attached to your stuff, your story, your title, you practice attachment and suffer. When you put aside your duties to seek only pleasure, you practice attachment and suffer. When your mind is attached to hate, loss, gossip, you become bound to suffering.
2.9 We will all die. Knowing this creates fear for ourselves and our children and prevents us from living in the moment. Live fully, breathe deeply, have joy.
2.13 Karma brought your children to you and you to your children. You are meant to be together in this life, in this way.
2.16 You can break the chains of suffering in this life. Right now, in this life. You do not have to go to an ashram to do it. Stop waiting. Begin now.
2.20 The divine Mother is infinite. She knows no boundaries and is pure essence, pure radiance that manifests as infinite creation. You are an embodiment of the divine Mother. What are you capable of?
2.33 The largest errors are those that are hurtful to others and dishonesty. Anger and Desire are their bedfellows. Teach yourself to be truthful and kind, to let of anger and to recognize your desires. Your children will remember your model as they grow.
2.40 You are not going to get that 17 year old body back and who would want to? Your body is not who you are. See beauty in yourself and the world with your inner eyes.
2.42 Practice contentment. All is as it should be. This is the source of true happiness.
3. The Powers
3.1-2 Be steadfast. Concentrate. Meditation is simply refined concentration. It needs no pillow or quiet room. You can do it anywhere, in any circumstance.
3.7-9 Meditation and it’s deeper levels are an internal practice. Don’t fret about missing your asana practice. You can practice yoga by becoming aware of the inner chatter and letting it pass into stillness.
3.11-13 Be still inside and allow yourself to be swept up into timelessness. Try this while rocking the baby at 2 am.
3.24 Meditate deeply on compassionate love and bestow them on all who need them. Be a mother to the world and all in it.
3.41 The lifeforce is carried on the breath and it is through the breath that you passed it on to your children. Breathe. Live.
4.1 Open yourself to the rythms and wisdom of nature. Turn the TV off and go outside. Look at the miraculous world around you.
4.2 Your nature is to evolve. To grow, to overcome obstacles both large and small alike.
4.7 The yogi’s life is neither good nor bad, it simply is.
4.11 Let go of your need to control your life and the lives of those around you. Open yourself up to possibility.
4.33-34 Countless mothers have come before you, and will come after you. This is the play of life, bound by time. Step out of time and find freedom within.