When teaching my prenatal yoga classes, I always give the same schpiel when I first bring my class into child's pose. I let them know they can come to this pose at any time throughout class for any reason if they need a break, even if I don't guide them there; that it's a chance to hit the reset button and come back to their steady breath, their intention, and to completely relax their body; and I say that it's just as important if not more important to learn how to tap into that relaxation and release as it is to master the more physically challenging poses of class. I talk about that intention - something they are to keep their mind focused on throughout class with the expectation that the mind will 100% wander off and get distracted - and how each child's pose is a chance to come back to it, no matter how far off you veered, without judgement.
In labor, the body gives you a break in between contractions. The body is designed to give you that rest and release in between the intensity (however maddeningly brief it might be), and if you're already in the habit of taking rest where you can get it - and as best as you can, not worrying about what happened before or about what's coming next - you'll be that much more prepared and present to take whatever comes at you next.
Today I finally started my day with my morning ritual I'd set out for myself that includes Brain Gym exercises (which I could have sworn I'd blogged about before but apparently not, so that'll be a future entry!), meditation, journaling, etc etc. I traveled down to northern VA for five days earlier this month to visit one of my best friends of all time, her husband, and their gorgeous gorgeous baby boy. And who wants to meditate when there's a baby to play with?
A few days after I got back, I developed one of those low-grade, nagging change-of-season colds. I don't know if it was the preschoolers, the weather, or both, but something got me and just had me dragging for a week. The travel, the cold, the various schedule shakeups - it was all I could do to drag myself out of bed in the morning in time to get to work, let alone meditate.
Now - I'm finally back. My Tuesdays are finally just for getting chores done in Astoria (and the return of book club tonight!!!) and I got up extra early with Marc, who headed off to Philly before the sunrise for a day of workshopping the exciting new play he'll be working on this winter.
So - finally - ritual.
And it occurred to me while I was meditating for the first time in awhile that my normal reaction would be to worry and feel guilty and feel like the worst yogi ever for letting so much time slip since I had done my own practice, and how hypocritical, etc etc. But how hypocritical of me to judge myself for being human when I continually tell my students - the mind wanders, we falter, but all we can do is reset without judgement.
Reset without judgement.
Even if you do it a billion times during your class, your day, your life - you're still building mental strength and receiving benefits.
It also reminded me of one of the funniest quotes I've read in ages - a friend was sharing an article about the silliness of 'food guilt' on Facebook and pulled out this quote that has stayed with me all week: "Unless you baked that chocolate cake with blood from a murder, there is no need to feel guilty about it."
I think we sometimes use the feeling of guilt as an effort to keep ourselves on track. At least I know I do. If I don't have the presence of mind to feel guilty for slipping up on something I care about, what's to keep me on track for next time? It sort of makes sense except that a) it's unrealistic and b) why give myself negative motivation when I can give myself positive motivation instead? And also just plain not take myself so seriously?
Meditation, eating well, being patient with people - insert whatever virtue you struggle with here - it makes us feel better. When we do it, it's good. When we don't do it - guilt is absolutely pointless. If it served a purpose, we'd all be perfect. Instead, just notice how the absence of whatever that virtue you strive for makes you feel and at the earliest opportunity - reset.
Life will knock you off your path with sickness, with a few random curveballs that make your busy week busier, and with just plain lack of motivation. It's the coming back to your intentions and the ways in which you take care of yourself that matters, not whether you do it every single day perfectly. Even if you get knocked off and have to get back on track a billion times, it's the coming back that matters.
This has gotten a little unwieldy and rambley and I feel like there's so much more I want to say on this subject, but I'm going to post it anyway in hopes that it at least resonates with someone. I suppose the point is - less guilt, more love. And more taking advantage of opportunities to reset ourselves.