Practice Bell Equals Baby Crying

Dedication to practice is easier to access when rested and sane – not at 1:53am after a long day.  I keep feeling “I need a break” and “there is no rest in sight” (1:53am thoughts) and then proceed to self medicate with chocolate and toast and tea.  At 1:59am I finally come to face that the only break I need is from the parts of myself that resist the present moment arising, that resist staying with any given moment (for example the baby crying at 1am).  The ‘break’ needed is actually from parts of self not yet integrated, like the part that wants to toss myself out the window when Rowan won’t sleep (exaggeration, but you get the picture).  This part is completely devoid of patience.  Fed up.  Reached a boundary and can’t feel a way out.  The irony is that daily I work to eek out small spaces for other parts of myself (the writing, hiking, yoga parts) – but all along the hidden quandary is that I need more space for the parts that think they need a break and are at the edge.  In other words I need to spend more time with the moments of perceived “break-needing” in order to, through more intimate self understanding and acceptance, move through these spaces to a deeper freedom and peace.  This is the fertile ground of practice.  As my yoga teacher often says:  “The only way out is in.”

Earlier today my mantra was “practice bell equals baby crying.”  The idea was spawned by reading from Lama Surya Das’s book Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be, where he suggests choosing a recurring sound throughout your days and designating it a ‘practice bell’ in order to cultivate moments of greater mindfulness.  That of course was fine during the day but less fine at 1am.  The irony did break through as I recalled the practice bell mid-sleep cycle, yet instead of finding the dedication I went straight to “screw this!”

Rowan’s sweet confusion at my bad mood breaks my heart.  I leave the room after helping him to sleep, ready to face the parts of myself that ignore the practice bell and ignore the great pause before acting, ignore the vast reservoirs of love and patience that are truer than anything else in the world.  I am so exhausted and so ready to give up and give in to this realization.  Giving up means letting go into the lessons unfolding even in uncomfortable places. In this instance, giving up means surrendering into Truth of the parts of self less faced.

Rowan’s midnight cry is a mirror for where I choose to shut down or not.  The cry shows me my reserves of compassionate loving response as well as my edgy restlessness that has had enough.  Both are true.

2:12 am calls me to returned sanity through sleep and a closer examination of just what it is I am so “tired of.”  Really, when I sit here and spiral deeper into this surface truth of ‘I am tired.  I need a break,”  it is actually empty.  At the core I am actually tired of nothing.  It is all a story on the surface, and if only I remember to heed the practice bells of existence I will stay seated in heartbreaking love of this life – every precious moment.  I’m only tired of the parts of myself that can’t yet sustain this awareness of pervasive love recognition.  Without the delving this truth too would continue to be obscured.  Really, all of this is just profound light shed on parts of self that aren’t utterly dissolved in Love – even love in the midst of shrieking 1am baby.

Sustained, Steady Rhythm

Consciousness is elevated by Abhyasa (devoted practice) and Vairagya (remembering the Self).

Devoted practice cultivates the unfolding of consciousness.

Devoted practice is nurtured by a sustained, steady rhythm and a dedicated heart.       – Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1.12-1.14

Finding a space of quietness where I can regroup, dig into wisdom reserves, feel into where I am most drawn to and what brings me most alive… This is the crucial practice calling each day.  At first glance it seems all of these things are best served by moments for (quiet, undivided) reflection, which happens to be somewhat scarce in my life now.  So instead I turn to glimpses throughout the day – taking note of what is most life-giving and being sure to cultivate those moments:  fresh air, sun on skin, deep breaths, body practice, play and laughter with Rowan, colorful foods and moments for connection with others.  In many ways these things are the basics of a life mindfully lived and it is a practice to stay connected with what brings each of us alive and inspired every day.  Spiritual study, writing, silence – these things are more elusive with a toddler in tow, and yet still: we can practice.  Patanjali’s yoga sutras remind me that consciousness is elevated by devoted practice and devoted practice is nurtured by a sustained, steady rhythm and a dedicated heart…So much of mothering follows the daily ebbs and flows of a predictable rhythm.  Now, show up again and again with a dedicated heart…