I’ve been a mom for 8 months long enough to know that waking up with a cranky baby means long day ahead. She was beside herself. Meanwhile, my mind continued to monkey around. What could possibly be this upsetting when you aren’t even 250 days old? How bad is it really to be basking in the adoration of everyone you meet between spoon feedings and serenades of songs written about you?
Then the voice of reason swooped in. Go to yoga!
I carved out the time, rallied the support, and showed up just in time to be turned away; turns out Sunday morning yoga wasn’t as novel an idea as anticipated. Class was as full as I was feeling empty inside. The mellow drama continued a while longer as I arrived home, wallowing in the abyss of why me, attempting to salvage the time to myself with something productive—washing, cleaning, sorting, organizing. Then I noticed something interesting. As I was folding the yoga clothes mostly dirtied with spit up these days instead of sweat, I could hear a soft whisper sound in my throat. I began feeling the coolness of the air as it entered through my nostrils and its warmth as it filtered out. I observed my chest rising and falling, belly expanding and contracting. Just when the world was ending my practice showed up and brought me some much needed pause.
Some days no matter how much you envision circles, you get a square—they just don’t go as smoothly as planned. The unplanned can be stressful, multiplied by the other complexities happening in your life. Gratitude is a great strategy to get things rolling smoothly again. The sagas of our daily life have plenty to teach us, in this case for me, a reminder that thank you is always just a few mindful steps away.
1. Find your breath. Draw your fullest attention to the feeling of the breath from the inside out. Observe the sound, the feeling, the rhythm, the depth. This practice will help create space between the thought pattern provoking you.
2. Give thanks. There is plenty to appreciate in any situation, way more things than five, yet this amount has proven to be just enough of a stretch to start shifting from unhealthy thought patterns towards thoughts that heal.
3. Pass it on. Who can you share your gratitude with? Strike up a conversation, put your pen to paper, offer your head, your hands, your heart, share your reflections in a way that means something to you.
The wavering moments in our lives are a big part of the why we practice yoga, meditation, or any mindfulness-based exercise helping us cultivate equanimity. It doesn’t have to be in a conventional studio setting. Anytime we find ourselves observing our breath and our body in a conscious yet compassionate way, we are practicing yoga. Whether it be while doing laundry, or commuting, or cooking, or walking down the street, the more we practice the more natural it becomes, and the more natural it becomes the more likely it is to pay off by showing up in moments we need it most.
With space and consciousness I was able to say thank you; to a partner who often knows what I need before I do and encourages me in good faith, to a body that is physically able, for a practice that has taught me to pause and process and reroute when necessary, for a healthy baby that needs my love—especially on the cranky days, to circles that are squares that can become circular again. When you find yourself stuck in your own squares create space, give thanks, and share your journey; at the very least it will remind the rest of us we are not alone, another reason for us all to be deeply grateful.