Empty Nester and Not Loving It!

This fall my youngest left for college.  It is a new phase of life, a new stage.  How did this happen? It seems like just a moment ago I was holding each of my 3 children in my arms as newborn babies.  in that instant I was filled with so much joy, love and happiness and now already the last is leaving the nest.

So my nest won’t officially be empty for 4 more weeks when my oldest son leaves for Thailand to go and teach there for a year.  It seems so very far away and almost incomprehensible that we won’t see him for almost a year.  My second son is back at college for his Junior year, and my youngest is having a great start to her Freshman year in college. I am so proud of each of them and happy to see them moving forward in their lives, this is exactly what my husband and I want for them! So why is it tinged with sadness for us and most other parents?

I find for me there are several reasons. First, while yes I am still their mother there is a change in that identity.  I am not needed to mother them every day.  Unlike when they were younger they don’t need me to drive them around, make them a snack or tuck them in at night. I am still their mother, but like a cousin once removed, I now mother from a distance.

Some of the sadness comes from missing the daily communications. My house is so quiet, no more noisy dinners as we hear about everyone’s day, no more friends dropping by filling the house with noise and laughter. No longer can I hug them when I notice they are having a tough day.  Communications are planned, first texting “are you available to Skype at 8?”, then waiting till 8 o’clock and hoping the technology will work for us.

What does yoga have to say about this?  Yoga says that your attachment to an identity causes pain, the feeling of loss of the identity of mother causes pain. Even though I am still their long distance Mom, it is a loss, a change in that identity, it can and should be mourned. Yoga says your happiness should be independent from the events that are happening around you.  I can’t let my happiness be dependent on my children being home, this would not be healthy for them or me. They are doing what they should be doing, what we have encouraged and prepared them to do. they are moving on growing, learning and becoming beautiful independent young men and women that my husband and I are incredibly proud of. The way they are stepping into their new stages of life with grace inspires me to do the same.

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Finding Balance

Several years ago I was out with my Mom, sisters, niece and daughter looking for bridesmaid dresses for my sister’s wedding.  As we were in the dressing room my Mom said “you can put your trousers on standing up? I can’t balance well enough to do that anymore.”  This really made me pause because as we age balance is so important and becomes such a big issue for the elderly.  Now I use “putting my trousers on standing up” as my baseline.  I know if I can’t do that I need to work on my balance!

In Svaroopa(r) Yoga we say that balance can not be forced or created but like your bliss is found within.  If your mind is churning with thoughts, you feel worried, anxious, or distracted you are not going to find balance in your body.  When your body and mind are out of balance this will spill over into your life.  So how do we find balance?

Yoga gives you many tools for keeping or regaining your balance.  One of course is to first learn to balance on two feet standing in Tadasana and letting your weight lean through your leg bones and into your feet.  Allowing yourself to feel grounded and connected to the floor.  You can also practice balance poses like Tree or Stork, you can use a wall for support and practice standing on one foot.

There is another way to find the balance that is within and that is to work on your mind. Using meditation to quiet your mind will first stop the racing thoughts in your mind and secondly as your mind balances your body will naturally follow, becoming more centered and grounded as you stand on one foot.

If you can’t put your trousers on standing up and you can tell you have poor balance it can become a viscous circle, where do you start?  When you practice Svaroopa(r) Yoga you will use poses that are reliable to release the core tensions in your spine and when these tensions release your balance in your body will automatically improve, your mind will begin to quiet and your balance pose will become more steady.  All this from releasing the tensions in your spine starting at your tailbone and working up to your rib cage.

If you want to experience more balance in your body, mind and life join me Sunday May 17th at Sohum Yoga for a workshop on balance 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM.  This workshop is suitable for the beginner to the experienced yogi! Can’t make it this Sunday try any Svaroopa(r) Yoga class to experience profound changes in your body and your mind.

Svaroopa(r) is a registered service mark of S.T.C., Inc. Copyright(c) 2008 S.T.C.,Inc all rights reserved

More Confessions from an NPR Junkie.

On April 15th when I was listening to NPR and thinking about tax day,  I heard that it was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, it was also the 2 year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.  Then this weekend was the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, I could hardly believe that 20 years has gone by. Sadness comes over me each time I am reminded of these terrible events.

So sitting here writing this on a grey and gloomy Patriots Day in Massachusetts thinking about this years marathoners, I can’t help thinking about these horrific events, and how sad it is that 70 years after the revelation of the genocide of the holocaust that the human race still commits such violent acts against one another.

Yoga says that Ahimsa (non-violence) is one of the 5 laws of life.  These are 5 practices to help us live a better life, and reach enlightenment.  Practicing non-violence helps us to live as a better person, but there is more to non-violence then not physically harming someone.  Most of us are not going out and committing acts of terrorism.  So how do we cultivate non-violence in our lives.

The practice of Ahimsa to me is similar to the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” or  “love your neighbor as yourself”.  If we treated everyone as we want to be treated the world just might become a better place to live in. We can practice Ahimsa towards others, so if you don’t want to be gossiped about don’t gossip, don’t want to be bullied or made fun of don’t bully others. We can practice Ahimsa towards ourselves, take a good look at how you speak to yourself. If we spoke to others like we talk to ourselves we wouldn’t have many friends. These are just a few ways we may be behaving violently without thinking of it as violence.

I maybe naive,these historic events are such major acts of violence how can they be changed by my individual shift in behavior and attitude. I say that we have to try, as individuals this is something we can do to help change the world. In yoga we call this a practice, I also like to think of it as cultivating non-violence. Your practice is like a garden it needs to be tended, watered, fertilized, weeded and finally harvested.  You won’t be able to change all of your thoughts and actions overnight it takes time just like growing your garden.  So start cultivating, big changes happen by small acts of individual people.

Signs of Spring

Friday strolling down my driveway after a morning walk I noticed that all of the snow had melted around the base of one of the trees in my front garden.  There just poking up from the ground were the tips of daffodils rising up from their long winter sleep.  Letting out a whoop of joy my mood lifted instantaneously.  Seeing this tiny first sign of spring brought me so much joy.

Fast forward to Saturday morning waking up to snow showers coming down from a cold, steely grey sky.  Oh the depths a mood so easily lifted can just as easily crash down.  This brought me up short and made me think “is my yogic state so shallow”?

Yoga says that your joy or happiness should not be dependent on what is happening on the outside, the burst of spring or return of winter, but is always there arising from within.  In Svaroopa® yoga we cultivate this yogic state in our practice and particularly with a guided awareness during Shavasana when the teacher guides you through a body scan so you can bring your awareness into your body to notice your state outside and inside.

You will often hear yogi’s refer to this yogic state as being detached, but that sounds like you don’t care.  What yoga is really saying is that this yogic state you’ve cultivated is not attached to or influenced by external events.  That you or I can be as joyful during the Saturday snow flurries as we are seeing the daffodils and other signs of spring.

It isn’t easy, it is a practice.  This is why we refer to it as cultivating a yogic state.  Some external events or people push you out of your yogic state more easily than others.  So I am giving myself a break here, it has been a long, cold, snowy winter and this time the snow pulled me down. I hope to better maintain that yogic state the next time.  Actually like everyone else I am hoping that was the last of the snow flurries for this winter that gives me all spring and summer to deepen my yogic state!