FEELING THE FIRE
Now, if you have ever practiced yoga, you know that you willingly put yourself through intense poses and movements which make your body feel like it is on fire. In fact, this tends to be what you remember most about your yoga session; the intensity, the trembling muscles, the burn. Well, as you know (or if you don’t) after every intense pose in yoga, you ALWAYS rest. After every moment when you feel that inner fire, and it feels like your body is about to collapse, you rest. You lie face down, arms by your side, sink into the floor, and you breath-- smelling that odd scent that the yoga mat puts off-- then the next pose begins.
It was during one of the rest poses that I had my “ah-ha” moment. This thought arrived in response to something in particular that my yoga teacher said, in the softest, most gentle voice you can imagine a yoga teacher having. As we lay there perfectly still, our ever-so-wise yoga instructor reminded our class of the importance of rest in the yoga practice. Evidently during these brief 5 second rest periods, the energy we just created throughout our movement is cycling, it’s still working throughout our body.
This is when her words fell on fertile soil in my mind and thoughts and connections immediately sprouted. All of a sudden I realized that I had been perceiving rest time all wrong. Silly me. See, I used to think that when I rested in yoga, I literally did nothing. In fact, I am embarrassed to admit that before having this profound realization, I would lay lifelessly on the floor and think: “C’mon. Let’s go. I gotta get more of a workout here! Let’s keep this sh*%$ moving!” Tisk, tisk, tisk.
So, here is the epiphany that I had: the cycle of yoga-- movement, REST, movement, REST, movement,REST… is a great metaphor for us as mothers. I know that as a mother of a three year old and twin two year olds, I typically don’t make a lot of time to “rest.” My day is: movement, movement, movement, movement, movement, movement… collapse into bed. Not only do I have physical movement, movement, movement, I have mental movement, movement, movement. This isn’t good, and to be honest, I am feeling the fatigue both mentally and physically (especially mentally!).
Now, this is no one’s fault but my very own. I have the power to control my thinking that pushes me too far physically and mentally. I have the power to control the thinking that causes me to feel like I have to do 50 things that day, thus never sit down on the couch until 9 pm.
IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU
Think about your daily, cyclical process of mothering. Like yoga, mothering gets intense (especially if you are home full-time with pre-school children or you are trying to balance the competing demands of your work and home life.) For example, I easily feel the fire of mothering several times a day-- the frustration and anger that accompanies dealing with irritable, whiney children; the intense mental burden of feeling that I have too much to do and too little amount of concentrated time to get any one thing done with quality; the intense feeling that I am doing this mothering thing all wrong-- that I “should” be better at how I react to my girls’ whining, that I “should” be doing something more as a financial provider, that I “should” be putting out (way more than I typically do) for my husband. This is the fire! But unlike yoga, my mothering cycle has no rest time build in. Probably not good…
There are multiple, beyond multiple, benefits of systematically incorporating “non-doing” or rest in our mothering. Jon Kabat-Zinn reminds us that “it is very important not think that this non-doing is synonymous with doing nothing…has nothing to do with being indolent or passive.” In fact, when we slow our physical bodies and our mental minds and rest, we are doing a lot. We are becoming still (in body and mind). In this stillness, we are able to witness the beauty of the present moment. Next time your kids are playing, sit down on the couch and just watch them. Notice their voice, their laughter, their creativity. Remind yourself that YOU made them. You actually made this human being in your body who is now laughing and experiencing life. You manifested their existence! Reconnect with the awe of that thought. Doing so makes you feel intense compassion and love for your child. Personally, since I am knee-deep in raising three children in the “terrible two’s” and the “three is the new two” phase, I have to create these moments where I stop, watch my children in their purest form, and witness the intense thoughts of love that I have for them. If I don’t actively remind myself to be mindful and be present in these precious, everyday moments, the predominate experiences I have with them revolve around whining, crying, and my utter frustration with this behavior.
GROW YOUR MOTHERING MUSCLE
As a mother, when you stop and rest your body and mind, you rejuvenate and grow your mothering muscle. You give yourself time for the fire of mothering to subside so that you can grow stronger mentally and find that emotional balance that is critical to being a mindful mama. For me, I find that in those brief, far too few moments, when I rest, I reflect on how lucky I am to be home with my daughters, that this time will really go by very fast in the grand scheme of things, and that I am fulfilling one of my primary goals in my life. This feels good. Rest time allows me a mental break that serves to help me find emotional balance when it comes to how I think about mothering.
What about you? Does your mothering cycle resemble A, B, or C:
A) movement, movement, movement, movement, movement….collapse
B) movement, movement, movement, rest, movement, movement, rest, movement, movement, movement,rest…
C) rest, movement, rest, movement, rest, movement, rest, movement, rest
Here’s your task for this week, my over-worked, doing way too much, moms: every day, and I mean every day, take time to rest both physically and mentally. Consider “good mothering” as a cyclical process:movement, rest, movement, rest, movement, rest… It’s not a luxury to think of mothering in this way; it’s a necessity. After feeling the fire of daily mothering, you need the rest to rejuvenate and recharge your mothering muscle.