This post is part of a guest writing series for The Pranakriya School of Healing Arts. You can see the original post here.
I spent the first several weeks of my daughter’s life measuring my success as a first-time mother, and her well-being, by how much she cried. My every waking moment (and half asleep moments) quickly became a blur of acting in prediction that she might cry, reacting to whimpers that could escalate, and trying to hold it together through feelings of shame and helplessness when she was crying. I felt so much love and responsibility for this beautiful gift that I couldn’t bear to see her have an experience that was less than pleasant.
As you can imagine, I quickly became exhausted and exhaustion morphed into depression. I’m grateful that through several sources of support, the worst of it was short lived. As the depression lifted, I knew I had to find a way to exist in relation to my daughter without being in a constant state of stress. My answer has been to bring the pause, which is so familiar in my yoga practice, into my mothering.
My daily yoga practice with her involves cultivating true presence and choosing to act out of love, not fear, when she needs me. In terms of yogic philosophy, my intention now with my daughter is to start to bring awareness of the Buddhi Mind, which I foster on my mat, to the forefront when I am with her. On my yoga mat, Pranakriya Yoga has given me the tools to observe, accept, and fully feel my emotions and physical sensations. When I react out of fear of discomfort or because of an old story, I miss out on the experience that is unfolding. The same is true of my relationship with my daughter. When I pause, breathe and observe, sometimes what I initially heard as fussing turns into a giggle or shout of joy!
Cultivating a loving pause towards her has given both of us immense freedom. She is constantly changing and I cannot see her truth if I am stifling her with my efforts to control her experience. Now at the end of the day, I no longer measure how I showed up by how much she did or didn’t cry, but instead by how present I was able to be to her through her experience of this world.