Wednesdays I teach Mommy/Baby Yoga class at The 14th Street Y in Manhattan. This particular rainy, wind whipping Wednesday, my core group of devoted moms strolled in with the little ones and we were more philosophical and chatty than usual. I encouraged an open forum to talk about lifestyle and meditation, while we mindfully added in some yoga stretches here and there. A full weekend of Dharma Teacher Training with The Interdependence Project followed by on organized meditation at Occupy Wall Street this past Sunday, incited some juicy conversation including what to do about mouse droppings in your cabinets and how can one find equanimity in that situation?
One of the moms commented how her 6 month-old daughter is always calm in yoga class, but can be, well, more like a baby in some of the others. I can contest to this. I’ve never seen Naomi cry in the 3 months that she’s been coming, or baby Ken for that matter. Babies do cry in my yoga class, but it doesn’t escalate into an all out scream fest where they are all in a state of panic. Babies have empathy and that’s why if one baby continues to cry without soothing, others join in because it’s their only way of notifying someone to help out the distressed one and then they all get distressed. Interesting, huh? Moms said they like the music I play whether it’s Jack Johnson, Krishna Das or easy listening 70s, we cultivate a calmness that the babies vibe. We do this by paying attention to the breath, body, and opening to a more relaxed state of being.
Deb and baby Dom have been coming to class for a couple of months quite regularly. Every mom always expresses how just getting out of the house, even on stormy days, is a good thing. They are grateful to be at their yoga class, meeting new friends and the babies get some chill time. I work more with the moms getting back in touch with their bodies and they are free to feed, change diapers, do whatever it is they need to do while in class. It’s yoga after all. I am there to help cultivate some balance in a new mom’s hectic life. At the end of class, we interact with the babies. A real crowd pleaser is tree pose, holding the baby in standing position and drawing one leg up. It really looks cute, especially with a bare tushy, which happens on occasion. The class is for infants up to a year old and then they outgrow the class. Moms experience lots of transitions and I do my best to talk about letting go. There’s a sweetness and a sadness to aging. Every parent’s wish is to see their child grow up and live a beautiful, healthy life. But in order to get there, you have to let the “baby” go.
During our many subjects we touched on, we arrived at Deb beaming that she just got engaged on Sunday to Brian, Dom’s daddy. She said marriage was going to happen at some point, but they weren’t in a rush. The ring needs sizing so she doesn’t wear it on the traditional left ring finger. She held up her hand for all to see. We oohed, and then she told us Brian bought it from an antiques jeweler. Professing she didn’t really need a ring at all, she loves the one he found for her. She said they have an amazing relationship and went on to tell us how he proposed … at Occupy Wall Street. Her fiancé is political activist and they have been to OWS on other occasions, so this past Sunday, she was completely surprised when he started his proposal with, “Mic check”, initiating the Human Microphone. Deb went on to say that the proposal has become somewhat of an unexpected sensation on Twitter and YouTube. She’s been fielding all kinds of comments supportive and jibing. All of the attention is completely unexpected.
Yoga class was just about over, and I have a handy dandy iPhone, so I asked if we should watch the video. Of course the ladies wanted to see the marriage proposal. It’s exciting getting engaged and we wanted to share in Deb’s glow. Brian is one romantic cat. To propose in front of a community of activists as well as close friends, and have them involved in the experience as part of the Human Microphone is way cool. I experienced the Human Microphone system for the first time, first hand that same Sunday. Like Kirtan, call and response devotional singing, efficacy of the Human Microphone unites the participants with present moment and open hearts. Words roll through the crowd. One has to pause in between thoughts and their next spoken words to be heard. Others have to pause to listen in order to repeat what they just heard. It’s fantastic. Brian’s process of having to slow down to profess his love, asking for a commitment to marry (occupy his life), and to be heard, really heard by Deb is extraordinary and beautiful beyond words. Using the words, “Will you occupy my life?”, as a way of asking someone to marry, I see becoming an alternative way of expressing sharing your life with someone. Brian went big with freedom of expression, took a risk, and this certainly expresses their lifestyle, their values and how they choose to occupy this life as they know it with each other and baby Dom. Things are happening down at OWS little bits at a time. If someone were to ask me what Brian asked Deb, I’d probably say, “Now you’re speaking my language.”