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Soften, Feel, and Act

Thursday, May 5, 2011


"No matter what No matter where It's always home If love is there."

This article is dedicated to mothers, grandmothers, step-mothers, mother's to be, and to those women who act as a second mothers to kids they babysit, play and hang out with.  It is also dedicated to all the 4 legged, winged and scaly mothers who are out there giving birth and nurturing their young ones this spring.   I think every mother feels like their family lives in their heart as well as in their homes. Our mothers teach us from their hearts about love, gratitude, adventure, generosity, kindness and play. They teach us how to laugh and hug and how to be uncomfortable when we try new things. They encourage us to be creative and to learn and to find our unique gifts that we have to offer the world.

In the practice of yoga our mother's are viewed as our first and most important teachers (I would add Dad's into that also).  Mom's (and Dads') are considered to be the "guru" or teacher that can have the most influence in our lives.  As our lives unfold many other teachers will present themselves in school, church, clubs, activities etc... but our mother's teachings last throughout our lives.  I am a mother, and a daughter and I know that the job of being a parent is a rewarding one and at the same time a challenging one.  It is a job that requires me to constantly align and re-align with what is going on with my family.  What is  important, relevant and necessary changes as my daughter gets older and so I am constantly adjusting, refining and learning. Parenting is a job that requires me to stay connected to my own inner wisdom and innate knowledge so that I can make the best decisions for my family.  

Over the years, the practice of yoga has given me some simple tools that I use every day as I parent.  In yoga classes that I have studied in the Anusara tradition, the teacher uses simple language that guides every posture.  Each time we move into a new shape we are invited to "soften, feel and then act."  The softening is about relaxing, becoming present with what is and being focused.  The feeling aspect is about tuning into and connecting with our own inner wisdom, knowledge and values.   The acting is then what we choose to do (how we align ourselves)  and how we want to be in the posture (adjust and re-align and make is easier if working with an injury or other special need, or go into deeper versions and variations of the pose).  In this way the yoga practice is always reflective of what is going on in that moment, not of what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow.  The yoga class teaches me over and over again to pause, be in the moment, align myself with what I believe and then act in a way that is reflective of that.

I have found that I can use these skills of "softening, feeling and acting" when I am faced with challenging situations as a parent.  My habits are to generally blurt out my opinion and want to tell Madeline what to do. Instead, I try to soften and become present, turn into my own inner knowing and connect with the big picture of what I value and then act in the best way that I can (I don't always do it well, but my intention is there). Sometimes I back off and give us both some space, and sometimes we deepen the conversation. There is no question that I churn internally in my yoga practice at times, and in my parenting at times.  Developing a habit of softening, feeling and then acting helps me be with the unknown and the uncomfortable.   It is a life long journey being a mother and I'm grateful for all the tools that help me be the best parent that I can be.  


Happy Mother's Day to all.

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