Monday, December 15, 2014

On Helping My Son Move Thro Fear

Photo credit: Judy Stone-Goldman

It must be because we are weeks away from the darkest day of the year, but both my kids are wrestling with their inner darkness. They have taken on a grumpier, scared-er version of themselves lately. Growing up in Canada, I know all to well the affects of spending too much time in darkness.

One night I was particularly beat, and after my son approached me for the third time after bed, this time about being scared of attacking zombies, (though I might add, he seemed genuinely okay, and more like he was stalling) I responded in humor, "well zombies are not real and I can assure you that they won't harm you in any way. I can also assure you that if your dad and I don't get a bit of child-free time that we WILL turn into zombies and come looking for you."

The next night though, I could tell he was really scared and we had a lovely bedtime talk. This one about the mind and fears. A subject us yogis and mediators love to analyze and explore in order to grow and find peace and truth. And a subject I was so happy to talk about now that my son's a little older.

I distinctly remember the time when I was an adult and I heard this simple message, and took it to my core. Similarly I felt the bubble burst when my son got it too.

You are not your mind.

Nope. You control the mind and use it as a tool. But you are not your mind.

But I am my mind! It is everything I am, he says, shocked.

Your mind likes you to think it is ALL and it is in control. But its not. You have the power to turn it on and off. Sometimes that means to stop listening to your mind even if its still running its mouth.

How do I do that, he asks.

It takes practices for most people, I say. But learning to listen to your breath, meditating. Or it could be doing things that bring all your attention to your body, like yoga or the body-centered meditation we do at night.

I lead him through a nice body-centering meditation and he was then at peace and able to transition to sleep by himself.

That little shift in perspective is sometimes all we need to help us grow or help us find true peace. In this case, stepping a little bit away from the ocean of oscillating thoughts, helps us to calm the innermost self. The more you practice the bigger that "step away" becomes. That is how yoga, or meditation, or any mindful-based practice helps.

As the nights grow long, I hope your little ones find peace this Holiday Season. May all beings in all directions find inner peace.


The Domestic Yogi

Monday, December 8, 2014

New Rules For This Holiday

As the unofficial Household Holiday Leader in my little family, I'm feeling a little less overwhelmed and bunches more grounded this year than in the past.

It feels similar to the difference between being a new mom, verses a few years later being a second time mom. As a first time mom, I remember feeling utterly overwhelmed, not knowing what I really needed in terms of stuff, or how exactly how to parent. The second time, I got rid of all the crap that society brainwashed me into thinking I needed, listened to my instincts and freed up time and space to just be.

Years past I was overwhelmed with all the possibilities of the season. I buckled under the pressure of making every moment special! I ran out of time to do half of the things I wanted. Not to mention the grip of over-consumption of food and store-bought presents to ensure everyone felt loved and happy! UGH! It really starts to squeeze the fun out! (Though truth said, I've still had wonderful holidays).

So this year, I'm revamping and creating some new rules:

1.  I have just accepted that December is a crazy busy month for both parents and kids, and we can only do so much. I've tried to wisely pick and choose the few fun events we go to. I have tried to drop the guilt and desire after I see how cool all the events we missed were on Facebook.

2.  I will lower my own expectations, and take the pressure off myself.

3.   I have come to realize that being a stressed-out frazzled, overwhelmed mom, who is under-slept from staying up late hand-making shit, and endlessly scrolling website for perfect presents, is really not bringing the good vibes to the table in the morning. That was the me of years past. And the me of this year wants to be happy. So that means simplifying this season. And showing up each day with the joy and warmth that I want my family to remember the season to be. 

4.  Going forward, I pledge to not be the Christmas Elves sweat-shop dictator Mama who forces her kids to Christmas craft, cook, decorate, or any form of holiday hoopla just for the sake of memory making if they don't want too. ("But kids I am only home for four hours this weekend we MUST bang this out now!!!!!!! There are only three December weekends until Christmas! Let's hop to it!) No no. I will not force them. Coerce maybe. And if I do suggest anything, I pledge to do so with calm and peace, promising to remember point 2 above -  lower my expectation.

5.  I will not over-buy. It's a hard lesson, but its true. I want my loved-ones to be happy. But deep down I know it's not all about the presents. Nor do I want my kids to become too entrenched in material wants and woes. We all know how the high of material gifts fade away quickly and what is left must be something other than a void. I will try to stress the magic of the season, the joyful moments and the love of connection.

6. I attest to try my best this holiday season to deeply listen to my loved ones for what they really need in the moment. Maybe its just a hug. Maybe it something more elaborate and festive. Maybe its an early night to bed. Maybe its that special present to knock their socks off. But I will try to deeply listen, without my own judgments or expectations, to what my loved-ones really need. 

And hopefully that will my little family truly happy. And that will make me very happy too.

Please share with me how your holidays will be different this year from lessons you have learned in the past!

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Moment To Step Outside

It was a Wednesday after an unseasonably cold wintry November week. Just 30-seconds off the bus after school and I can already tell my son is "off". My normally steady first-grader is a baggage of emotions -- from teary-eyed to grumpy tyrant. He is distraught to the point of tears that the weather has warmed up just enough to melt most of the snow. He doesn't want to go to violin tonight. He demands to play video games knowing full well they are not allowed after school. He just wants to be grumpy.

With my mother's-eye-crystal-ball I drive back home envisioning all the drama of wills and emotions that will play out once we get inside and collide with the other members of the family. It does not look good for anyone.

I park the car at home and jump out the car. I feel bad for him. I give him a big squeeze hoping he can feel my mother's love all the way through our thick winter gear. "I know what you need!" I say. "Let's go on an adventure!" So we drop our bags in the door, then set off, snow pants swooshing, into the back yard.

But we didn't play in the hilly grass backyard as usual. We went back, way back to the deep steep forested gorge the kids aren't usually allowed to go near.

Climbed down into the gorge. The greenery in the background
are the trees in our front yard.

We spent the next 20 or 30 minutes sliding down and climbing up icy muddy banks. I let him lead and take risks. After so many days of deep freeze, it felt wonderful to get out in fresh air and use our bodies in ways that challenged our balance, coordination and muscles.

It is such a healing power that nature has when you allow yourself to be swallowed up by it. I breathed in mother nature's hug as we stood there looking up at the sky full over with bare bone branch trees. I am in awe at how utterly tall the trees are, the tulip poplars and sycamore trees have to be over a hundred years old. It is so nice to set aside personal worries and be tiny and insignificant for a moment. Then at the same time open up to something bigger.

A strange flash of reality hits that sends me texting my husband to please put the dish in the oven at 350 degrees. Blamb, I am back in the year 2014.

Can you make out our house through the trees?

I find it odd that I have waited until this very moment to explore our backyard gorge with my son, and introduce to him the immense power it holds. We've lived here for over four years. Perhaps I waiting for him to be strong enough. Perhaps I was waiting for the right moment.

Both of us arrived home red-cheeked and feeling much more centered and peaceful. We had a nice dinner than headed to violin practice as usual, without any more fuss.

On this month that I have personally dedicated to deepen my gratefulness in my daily life and in my teachings, I can't help but to be grateful for little moments like these where I can walk into my backyard and find peace, humility, health and connection. I can't help but to think of all the children living in cities that may never experience the feeling of transcendence while in nature. Or all the children who regularly ignore their backyard in lieu of video games.

Today I am also grateful of the opportunity to be clear-headed enough to see what my son needed when he got home, and am so thankful of our connection and relationship built on love and trust. I know things change and change and change. So I am thankful for this moment. Now.

The Domestic Yogi

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Just Staying Put

Nothing like being a parent and making tough choices. Often I find myself striving for balance, but feeling like I am left short-handing someone or something, usually myself.

Sunday morning was no exception. I really *really* wanted to do something for myself. Something that was important to me. Something I had been looking forward to for weeks. Something profound.

But instead, my two little ones charmed me into lounging on the couch all morning. We did a lot of cuddling and chatting like this:

We giggled, chatted, and played. Calm at first then more wiggly. Then I caught up on some reading while soaking in the sweet sounds of their imaginative play together. Then a little more of this:

and this...

Then my husband quietly got lunch ready while I watched him from the couch. Then we enjoyed a nice unhurried lunch together. Rare moments these days in lives that seem too much like passing sailboats.

Ahh, a lazy Sunday morning after a busy week. I hadn't seen the kids in the last day and a half, except a couple hours at my son's birthday party.

So even though I had been looking forward to doing something spiritually important to me, and investing in the strengthening of my spiritual future, it would just happen that hanging out in the same room as my family, just cuddling and lounging all morning was in fact, just what we all needed.

Maybe it took a little mom guilt to make me stay. Maybe it was a bit of laziness. But we all got what we needed I do believe.

It always amazes me what a little unstructured time, mixed with very close proximity (for my family that means lots of snuggles) can do for our mind, body and spirit.

The Domestic Yogi

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Kissing Hand

Finally broke down and bought our own copy of The Kissing Hand because it is the sweetest kids book!

"Sometimes it's just as hard for us to leave our children in a new situation as it is for them. How comforting for both parent and child to know that the love and reassurance to face such separations can be as close as the palm of our hands!"

It's perfect for this time of year as we prepare kids to go off into the world.

Now, find your child, give them a squeeze and enjoy this book together.

The Domestic Yogi

Monday, August 25, 2014

How Yoga Lights Up My 3-Year-Old

See that baby in the banner picture at the top of my blog. She is growing up! I am so happy to share with you that she also loves yoga! Loves it!

She has been coming with me to toddler yoga for a year-and-a-half and is always right there beside me singing, chanting and doing the poses. I love that we can share this practice together.

Things change fast, so who knows, maybe she will be ambivalent about it next month. But for now, I thought I would share with you her kid yoga debut. This is my daughter, age three, showing me her "yoga routine".

What I adore most about this video is the pure love and joy that radiates from her. 

Note: The jumping sequence at the end is part of my kids yoga classes where we grab our "monkey minds" and bring them back into our bodies "home".

Here is a short video clip of us practicing together about a week later. You will see she finally is able to kick up to headstand after much practice all week!

As you can see, even young kids are able to use yoga to connect to their own inner strength, balance, and spirit! So go have some fun doing yoga. 

Try a little "grab the monkey, grab the monkey, grab the monkey, bring him back hoooome!"

The Domestic Yogi

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How To Help Your Child Transition Home After School

I've been thinking about the best thing I could do for my child when he gets home from school each day to help him relax, unwind and settle back into his center. It's a long day away from home (8am to 4:30pm) with a whole lot of listening, sitting still and doing what you are told. That is a whole lot of external influence. All that with only 20 minutes recess a day!

I found the perfect thing.

Do you Grey's Anatomy geeks remember that episode when the surgeon with Asperger Syndrome, Dr. Dixon, looses it and explains in a clinical way that she needs intense pressure on as much body surface as possible to help calm her nervous system. See pic below.

Did you know that a they use a similar principal to calm animals down when leading them to slaughter thanks to Dr. Temple Grandin, a female scientist who also has autism.

So now when my boy comes home from school I spend a moment snuggling with him on the couch, giving him a nice strong snuggle with as much body surface as he will let me. It goes on a tad long, 20 seconds to a minute. Surely something that only a parent could get away with. But most days he lets me. And it does seem to help. And heck, it's good for me! It's nice to have an outlet to fuel all my missing-my-boy-afraid-the-world-will-hurt-my-son-angst.

Other days, he is cheeky, so I pick him up like a baby, hold him to me as tight as I can, and sing Rock-a-Bye-Baby". He thinks it is hilarious! Laughter is good medicine too.

Plus afterwards it is nice to just see what bubbles up from him. I like to think he may be more open afterwards to sharing something troubling him. Or something happy! Most times he is ready to move on and just get to playing.

Try it out on your lovies, and tell me if it helps!

I remember growing up that my mom always greeted me warmly the minute I walked through the door when I got home from school. If she wasn't right there, she would yell down 'hello' and that she would be right there. And she always came down. This always made me feel important. And loved. And secure. She would stop what she was doing and look at me, connect with me, give me her 100% attention. I may of not said much. I may of been too pooped. I may of felt invisible all day in my early years. I may of been dealing with a lot of dramas, in my later years. But her being there certainly helped.

So when your kids come home, take a moment to connect and see them for who they are. Give them a tight squeeze. Who knows, maybe they will grow up and write a really cool blog post about it!

The Domestic Yogi