Philosophy · Whole Mama · Yoga in the Real World

No Small Thing

Not a religious person, yogic philosophy strikes just the right spiritual chord with me.  That said, there’s a Charles Dickens quote that came to mind every time I held either of my newborn children, and which continues to be fresh in my mind during the moments of connection that we, as parents, are fortunate to have frequently with them when they are young.  “It is no small thing, when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.”

It’s much more monumental, than small, really.

I won’t delve wholly into my constantly evolving spiritual questioning but, be that as it may, the very existence of a new human strikes me, continually, as nothing short of miraculous.  In his beautifully elucidated and brilliantly visualized Ted Talk Alexander Tsiaras illustrates the incredible journey, from conception to birth, of human development.

When the living result of that journey is warm against your chest, the sense of connection that exists is, also, nothing short of miraculous.  I was, and am, immensely humbled and tremendously grateful to be a mom.

I am speaking, very apparently, from a place of my own individual experience.  The yogic concept of interconnection was never more easily grasped than during my own pregnancy and immediate postpartum period.  My breath was my child’s breath and the connection, as a result, was visceral and inherent.

And yet.  There are moments, usually many, throughout the course of any given day, when I feel immensely separate from my own children, those closest to me, both physically and genetically speaking.  When my daughter screams like a pterodactyl while standing on the dining room table or my son tantrums because writing thank you notes makes him nervous, I feel very separate indeed.  Laine, who is 22 months old, had her first full-on temper tantrum this morning (a developmental milestone not usually recorded in most baby books).  She shrieked, hyena-like, for a full 45 minutes, while I alternated between consoling, cajoling, ignoring, and my own (slightly quieter) version of raging.  I looked in the rear view mirror and had no idea what she wanted.  She wasn’t being rational and she didn’t make sense and, though part of me could tap into maternal empathy, another part longed to distance myself as quickly and forcefully as possible from the screaming lunatic in the backseat.

I might argue that many of us have felt similarly about our current connections, or lack thereof, in our present day United States.  We find ourselves part of a nation that is defining itself more and more by separatism.  By difference, rather than similarity and by individualism rather than connection.  When it is sometimes difficult to relate to the connection we have with those closest to us, the challenge of connecting with those who differ, so fundamentally, from us, can seem insurmountable.

Those of us who resist the idea of closing off our borders and of turning our backs on people who most need assistance argue for acknowledgment of the common thread of humanity that ties us all.  But it can be difficult to relate to the humanity in those declaring and creating the policy with which we (I) so fundamentally disagree.

Can we abhor the moral stance of another human being without hate?  Is it possible that our shared humanity extends even here?

I teach a yoga class on Tuesday afternoons to a wonderful group of women who work for a foundation that provides grants to children with learning differences.  With similarly liberal leanings, we’ve spent time discussing our personal and professional reactions to the current political climate.  Yesterday one of the women mentioned that she’d been practicing Lovingkindness (or metta) meditation toward Donald Trump.  So, that’s it.  What I’m going to try to do.  Loving kindness meditation toward Donald Trump and maybe some other people who work with him.  I’m not sure it will work.  Fortunately, while I practice,  I also get to send some good energy out to those people (like my screaming and adorable banshee of a daughter) who are a bit easier to love.  If you want to give it a try, here’s a short blueprint to follow:

Start with yourself.  (This might be harder than sending good vibes to a beloved friend or mentor.  I know.) Repeat the following – once, or a few times.

May I be filled with love and kindness.

May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.

May I be well in body and mind.

May I be at ease and happy.

Think of someone with whom it is easy to love and connect.  Your close friend, your grandmother, a mentor.

May you be filled with love and kindness.

May you be safe from inner and outer dangers.

May you be well in body and mind.

May you be at ease and happy.

Think of someone neutral.  The person on the bus beside you this morning, the other parent you cross paths with at the grocery store, the woman at the coffee shop.

May you be filled with lovingkindness.

May you be safe from inner and outer dangers.

May you be well in body and mind.

May you be at ease and happy.

And then.  Think of someone (suggestions mentioned above, but choose your own adventure) with whom you have a very difficult time relating and understanding.  Maybe take a bit more time here.  Good luck.  And lots of love.

May you be filled with love and kindness.

May you be safe from inner and outer dangers.

May you be well in body and mind.

May you be at ease and happy.

 

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