Immersion in the Present

Time is passing. There is only now and now and now. With young children it can be easy to daydream through the motions: the feeding, the dressing, the herding. I’ve been reading Buddhism for Mothers of Schoolchildren and have been reminded yet again of “and this.” I find myself quoting as I pack the school lunches, as I wipe the daily grit from our old table, as I fold (or not fold) the washing, as I pull a tearful little face to my chest after a fall: And this. And this. And this. There is only ever this. At first I wondered if it only served to remind me of the monotony and take me, unwillingly, away from my airy thoughts, but with practice I have seen it bring me back into the moment, to ground me.

Over Winter I have been immersed in thought, in yoga study, in reading, in thinking. Perhaps this is nothing new (for me) but with the addition of yoga I have felt growth within myself that has surpassed all other things.

As I type, the littlest wanders over with a shell. I hold it to her ear. “Listen,” I say, “can you hear the sea?”

And this.

I sip my coffee.

And this.

Over the weekend we went to Apollo Bay and I attended a whole day workshop with Melbourne writer, Arnold Zable. The parallels between yoga and writing were illuminated as I listened to his words: “To be a writer, you have to be here, you have to be mindful, grounded. You have to witness.” Because if you aren’t there to witness something, to witness it deeply and fully, then to capture that moment in words later is going to leave you unreliable; the moment dulled through the fog of your inattention.

So go out and allow yourself to see. Notice the way the morning light hits the edges of a plant in your window. See the wisp of hair on your child’s forehead and know its habit to swing this way, or that. Feel the crackle of eucalyptus leaves beneath your feet, the solidity of your legs, your body moving through air – feel it as though you are moving through water, or soup. Step outside in the fading light and smell your neighbour’s open fire, smell the chill of the evening, the dampness of the soil.

And lastly, this: Xavier Rudd singing out from my computer speakers: Cherish this moment. Cherish this breath.

Tomorrow, We Will Begin Again

I spent the day at Yoga Teacher Training today. We practised Surya Namaskar, Sun Salutations, and spent the afternoon learning about Ayurveda, laughing about our doshas and the funny intricacies each of us shared with various imbalances (not so funny, but funny enough in the context of our discussion). We talked about how to live balanced lifestyles based on the calm, grounding philosophies of Ayurveda and her sister Yoga. I drove home looking out towards the sun setting in the sky, behind giant white cotton wool clouds feeling motivated and driven and buoyant. I visualised a fairy stone meditation I was eager to try out with my daughters this evening, followed by dimming the lights at sundown and ending the day with a hot bath and deep breathing. Screens off not long after, early bed, rest. I imagined myself deeply asleep by 10pm after this magical evening of peace and calm.

I arrived home and jumped up the front steps. Opening the door I was met with the most incredible display of tears, tantrums, anger, yelling. An abundance of yelling, from all three girls at once. Yelling and fighting and poking and provoking as only children who have been seemingly abandoned for the day by their mother can. Or is it just my children, when I dare to leave for a few hours? There was this brief moment in time where I was absolutely raging internally, wondering how to put out this fire of frustration. Didn’t they know what I wanted for them? How they would benefit? I watched as my thoughts of a peaceful and mindful evening slipped further and further out of sight. I gave the girls a bath (more tears), then hid in my room for a moment to stare mournfully out the window, breathing and waiting, breathing and waiting. Perched on the edge of the bed, fighting off tears at the thought that to be a yogi and to live a calm, grounded life you most definitely have to be single, childless and, quite possibly, residing in a cave somewhere far away from civilisation. I scorned myself for being so naïve (and my thoughts, so anti-yoga).

Then. I pulled myself together. We got the children to bed. I put toys away, picked up discarded socks, pants and undies from the floor. I put shoes away, wiped down the dinner table. Picked squashed peas from the bottom of my socks. Walked slowly. Around the peas. Ate. Reminded myself that each moment is a valid opportunity in which I can bring in the philosophies I am learning. That I am… learning (always).

And that tomorrow, we will all begin again.