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!
(By Guest Contributor Lakshman Fontaine.)
The planets in Vedic Astrology are called Grahas which means ‘to seize’ or ‘to take hold of’. They represent forces that have influence on us in different ways. In Sanskrit, the word Shakti has to do with energy or power. It is related to the feminine aspect of Divine Consciousness. Shakti has to do with the manifestation and creation of everything in the universe. It’s nature is to create and manifest things.
All of the planets have their own kinds of Shaktis, which by their very natures, want to manifest things, one way or another. The nine planets are always affecting us. Sometimes we go through periods where one or some of the planets are influencing us more than others. And in our natal birth charts there are planets that are more influential or more dominant than others.
The planetary mantras are tools to work well with the energies represented by the planets. The mantras help us to raise our level of awareness of these energies and to more consciously use these energies in our lives. As we go about our daily life, we don’t have to be thinking of our actions, drives, urges, reactions, etc. as being caused by this planet or that planet. But what can happen is that we become more aware at any particular moment that we have a choice of whether to react or not.
Each planetary Shakti can manifest (with us participating) in relatively conscious or unconscious ways. For example, when we are under a strong influence of Saturn, we can naturally react with resistance, frustration, getting a little negative, just feeling really stressed, or Vata provoked in Ayurvedic terms. We can even feel physically tired or have more health challenges.
When we consciously use the planetary mantras and the positive qualities of Saturn, then we can be very focused, very present and clear, very confident, organized, patient, practical and have very good structures and routines in life. These conscious ways of using the Shakti of Saturn leave less and less Shakti or energy to manifest in some of the difficult ways that it can.
In my experience of doing the planetary mantras, I sometimes become more clear on things while doing the mantras. It is as if the deity of a planet is providing some grace or a blessing. When the mantras are done in the morning, they seem to ‘tune up’ the energies for the day and allow the day to go either more smoothly, more consciously, or both. I will also do a specific planetary mantra to help me with some of that planet’s positive qualities. I may know, from doing astrology, that a particular planet is influencing me strongly during a certain period. So I might do extra mantra for that planet to help me to be more conscious and balanced during that time.
It is very good to do the mantras in a group of people and feel the energy that is generated (or attracted). This becomes a very real experience of the planets.