pratyahara play

“Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can cure the senses but the soul.”

-Oscar Wilde

I’ve come to the conclusion that so-called Mommy Brain is Nature’s way of pushing moms into the present moment. Okay, so it’s harder to remember phone numbers and names of acquaintances, but what about this new lifestyle as a mother that asks us to engage our senses in a way we probably never have so that we can care for a tiny human being? 

I’m sure that all moms have moments when they want to walk away from everyone and just retreat from everything. I bet most people have that urge now and then and that’s why things like vacations, retreats, drugs, alcohol, television, and video games are so popular. Now and then, most people feel like switching off or escaping.

I used to treat my yoga practice the same way; it was an escape from stress, tension, and feelings of inadequacy. But the longer I practiced yoga, the more I noticed that it wasn’t at all about switching off, but switching on. Nor was it about escaping so much as it was about dropping the thoughts and emotions that made me feel like escaping was necessary.

As mothers, our world is full of sensory stimulation. We get overstimulated; we don’t have enough solitude; there’s always too much to do. How can we practice stillness, cultivate peace, and respond instead of reacting to events and people (a.k.a. respond to stimulus)? 






Thank yourself for remembering to follow the above steps

Life is music, and music is punctuated by silences. Amongst the noise of motherhood and modern life, how can we find quiet moments in a day that feels too busy? How can we slow down enough to notice the silence between songs, between notes, or even notice the way the sounds of our noisy lives echo in what would otherwise be silence?

I think Stop and Introspect are fairly obvious: something happens (to you, or near you, or even because of you). Instead of reacting immediately to the event, stop and think of how it came about. Then Instrospect: How do you feel about it? How does it feel in your body? Next, Listen to others in the situation, if it makes sense (perhaps that means listening to a complaining child or a coworker that won’t stop talking, or your mom giving you ‘advice’).

The next part is hard: Empathize. Try to feel the other person’s situation. Just be with that moment of imagining what it’s like to be them. And if you’re having a hard time empathizing with others, empathize with yourself! Maybe you’re exhausted or just can’t relate to the other person. Let yourself be in that tough spot and don’t force the empathy. I know, it sounds like I just contradicted myself. The overall idea here is to open up your heart, whether it’s to yourself or to others, to whatever degree you genuinely can in the moment.

Now Notice how this experience feels in your body (because yoga is a physical practice, too, and it’s not just postures on a yoga mat!). How do you feel when you listen and empathize? Or when you have a hard time doing it?

Finally, whether you feel like you succeeded at this or not, thank yourself for actually remembering to do it. Because that’s the first challenge. Then make a mental note to remember to try it again.

And, in a more likely scenario, if you completely forget the acronym SILENT, try just pausing for a deep breath before you respond. Just that first step can change so much.

Life is loud and chaotic, especially momlife. Make it music by adding these pauses. Silence is part of music, and part of yoga, too! But sometimes noticing silence involves making some sounds ourselves. Bhramari is one yoga practice that I love and most kids love it, too. It sets the stage for a nice little meditation, or quiet moment.