“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Hindu mythology tells a story about how Lord Ganesh won a race without the benefit of speed. He and his brother Kartikeya agreed to race to see who could go around the world 3 times and come back first. Kartikeya set out right away flying off swiftly on his trusty peacock, the vehicle he used for getting around the universe. He was quite sure that his little brother Ganesh didn’t have a chance of beating him. After all, Ganesh’s vehicle was a small mouse named Mushika. Ganesh considered the task at hand thoughtfully, and then he got onto Mushika and rode him slowly, with devotion, three times around his parents, Shiva and Parvati. When his parents asked what he was doing, he replied that they (Shiva and Parvati) were the whole world and so Ganesh didn’t need to go any further in order to circle the world. When Kartikeya returned on his peacock, he couldn’t help but admire his little brother’s ingenuity.
It is a lovely story. It is a story about many things, including patience, ingenuity, and discovering more than one way to “win” a race. It reminds us that going slowly can create the mental space necessary to actually remember what’s important and then do it; that slowing down is an important bridge to remembering Shiva, which is also our True Nature.
This is so necessary in parenting and spiritual practice – to slow down, to remember, to make your next move from a place of inner awareness.
It’s hard to slow down, though. There is after all a lot to do, and someone has to do it. And there is the fear that if we slow down, we might lose something – our edge, the race, our peace of mind. It is truly hard work to pause and delay the drive towards doing. It is hard to resist the urge to react. We rush ourselves. We hurry our children. We push. We may not even realize we are doing it. We feel pressure to be on time. We feel pressure to keep up. We feel pressure to meet others expectations. So much pressure. And, while it is important to be on time and to follow through with commitments to others, it’s rarely as urgent as it feels. What if we were to resist the pressure?
“Slow motion cures commotion.” – Paul Reps
What are the rewards to slowing down the pace? As a mother, just remembering to pause and breathe can turn a stressful moment around, making joy, connection and even cooperation more likely. Slowing down gives the mental space to think, “what is the next right thing to do?” This can create a nicer flow and richer results than rushing from task to task hurriedly or unconsciously. Sometimes slowing down actually helps you get to where you need to go “on time,” because relaxed children are more cooperative than stressed, rushed children. Same goes for adults.
Regular meditation practice can help with learning how and when to slow down. It gives us a structure and tools to practice slowing down and taking time to check in deeply with ourselves. In meditation, we become acquainted with our breath and its power to change our mental state. Over time we start to notice our patterns – the ways we rush ourselves or avoid our feelings, or lose our way. We create more opportunities to respond rather than react. We develop new patterns of patience, acceptance, attentiveness and surrender.
If you’re longing for the benefits of slowing down long enough to tune in to your own heart and mind, join us at Austin Big Heart Yoga for meditation, hatha yoga, and special parenting events this spring!
Hatha yoga every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
Meditation for Mothers series begins February 3, 10:45 a.m.
Gayatri Mantra practice Tuesdays at noon
New Tween workshop February 7
How does a yogi mom raise a spiritual child? Does she raise her child vegan, does she let him run wild?
Does she give her child malas instead of rattles and toys? Does she shield him from plastic and non-yogic boys?
Does she make him play yoga instead of video games? Does she spend her time calling “non-yogis” mean names?
A yogi mom doesn’t. She practices peace. She sits every day and cultivates ease. She yells and she hugs; she does well and she sins; and always comes back to her cushion again. A yogi mom breathes deeply each day of the year. She becomes her best self, choosing love over fear. She models compassion with herself and her kin. She keeps trying and trying all over again. A yogi mom opens to life as it is, and by doing so…she hopes to raise spiritual kids.
THE NEXT MEDITATION FOR MOTHERS SERIES BEGINS APRIL 15. Take some time for yourself, and join this supportive and inspiring series designed just for moms. We’ll explore the theme “Learning to Let Go More Deeply” with grounding hatha yoga sequences, pranayama practices, meditation, deep relaxation, and conversation. Tuesdays at 10:45 a.m. If you’d love to take the class, but it doesn’t fit your schedule, call us. Anita can design custom classes for private groups of 6+ mamas.
Parents feel, and there is some reality to it, that they need to be in constant motion to keep their family’s needs in balance. The never ending cycle of cooking, dishes, laundry, shuttling here and there, work, buying groceries, and managing things in general can seem overwhelming – and then there’s all the FEELINGS that parenting can bring up in us. Anticipating needs, rushing to the next thing, and feeling over scheduled and overwhelmed are common experiences in today’s world.
One thing that meditation has taught me is that when I slow down the pace internally, my whole attitude has an opportunity to shift. Sure, there are still piles of laundry, stacks of dishes, a path of toddler destruction, and Texas size roaches to be handled; but all of this seems more manageable (and/or less urgent) when I’m able to slow down my breath, notice my state, and connect to an inner sense of ease and sweetness.
Sometimes slowing down means making different choices (like limiting obligations and prioritizing self care and family time). Regardless, there will always be days, weeks, or life phases that are necessarily busy and full. At these times, it creates more stress to try and resist what’s happening. Learning to “slow down” in the midst of such busy/full times is an even more refined skill in my experience.
The yogic practices of being fully present, conscious breathing, mantra, meditation and practicing within community (sangha) are powerful tools for learning to slow down despite the speed of your life, kids, thoughts, or household critters.
In our upcoming “Meditation for Mothers: Deepening your Practice Series,” we’ll be exploring some important questions together. During the stressful times, how does one prevent becoming even more stressed? How can you find the sweet moments with your kids in the middle of the life you currently have? How do you come back to your own spiritual center, and open to your life more and more from that place? How can we integrate practice more and more into life as it already is? How do we release the worries that come with parenting?
“Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!
Why do you stay in prison
When the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.
Flow down and down in always widening rings of being.
Try this simple exercise. Upon waking (whether from an alarm, crying baby, barking dog, or because your body is rested and ready to rise), take 3-10 slow conscious breaths (it’s ok to do this en route to the crying baby, btw. Let’s keep it real). You can do this lying down or sitting on the edge of your bed. Notice how you feel – body sensations and breath quality. Feel inside for the “flavor” of ease, however big or small it may be. Now, try to take this quality of ease (felt in your body and breath) into the next few minutes of the day – whatever they are. It’s helpful to stay connected to your breath and simply focus on what you’re doing, like walking, making lunches, holding the baby, etc. (rather than being in the future or past.) You might want to put a little sign next to your bed to remind you of your intention (3 BREATHS) to help bring the experience of slow motion into the start of your day.
Hope to see some of the Austin area mamas in one of the upcoming Meditation for Mothers series!
Meditation can be defined as a state of mind that is without thoughts, AND it is a mind that is at peace despite thoughts. I tell this to the women who come to my Meditation for Mothers classes with an emphasis on the second definition: a state of mind that is at peace despite one’s thoughts. I hope to ease the belief that so many people have that they “can’t meditate” because their minds are too busy. Of course, that is exactly why one SHOULD meditate. I have a busy mind. By the first definition I have meditated very little despite many hundreds of hours of sitting on my cushion. Whenever I am getting ready to teach a Meditation course, I pause to reflect on the ways that meditation has changed me. It’s not always obvious. I still get grumpy and hormonal. I still make mistakes with my child; some of them are ugly ones. I still feel anxiety, anger, sadness, jealousy, fear. Sigh. But there is more. I forgive myself more easily, freeing up precious energy to reconnect with my child after I’ve made a mistake. Fear and anxiety that might have grabbed my attention for weeks or months in the past, is released in days, hours, minutes, sometimes even seconds. I am more resilient. I have more acceptance for my life as it is (not as it is “supposed to be.”) I feel increasing amounts of gratitude, happiness, and peace for no reason as a result of my daily practice. I believe that my practice is a gift, not just to myself, but especially to those who are closest to me. Just a few reasons to begin a regular meditation practice. Join me this fall for a Tuesday morning Meditation for Mothers series (starting September 20 or November 1) or a Thursday evening Beginners’ Meditation series (starting October 13).