"I love a broad margin to my life." -Henry David Thoreau
I often find myself in the position of having to take my own advice. In my work as a yoga teacher, it feels natural to invite my students to be easy and sweet to themselves, but it's not always so easy to do it myself.
One of my standard little phrases when I teach, especially when I teach a restorative yoga class or when I instruct students to come out of savasana at the end of class, is to create a sense of luxury around time or to cultivate a sense of ease around transitions. I am trying to prevent them to popping straight up from a deep resting pose and jumping right into the next thing. I want them to bring the profound sense of peace they've been building along with them as they move out of the pose and back out into the world.
One day recently I noticed myself acting out the following scenario: after chasing Silas, carrying him to the car, wrestling him into the car seat, I plopped myself down into the driver's seat, buckled up, jammed the key into the ignition, and promptly started pulling out of the driveway. Putting Silas in the car seat has always been one of my least favorite tasks as a mama, but as he gets bigger and stronger, and as I grow more and more pregnant, it's a greater challenge each day, often leaving me breathless, tired and irritated. What I observed is that, by not cultivating a sense of ease around transitions, I was carrying the stress of one task--buckling Silas into the car seat--right into the next task of driving.
So I've developed this practice for myself, which I call the margin breath practice. I sit in the car, put the key in the ignition, but before starting the car and driving off, I put my hands on my thighs or my belly and take three, deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through parted lips. This allows me to let go of the tense energy of one task before stepping into the next. To create a sense of luxury around time, to build this little moment into my day that, like meditation, isn't about doing anything, but simply about breathing and being. It's a small thing, but it makes a big difference.
This, I believe, is how we busy mamas can integrate the benefits of mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation into our days, and reap their benefits. Not only by showing up on our mats and cushions at the appointed time (or whenever our kiddos finally go to sleep) but by mindfully carving out these little pockets of time into our days. Try it for yourself: after the difficult diaper change with the reluctant, wriggly toddler, after dinner before getting up to take your plate to the kitchen, before drawing the bathwater, why don't you
rest your hands on your belly
take three deep breaths
create luxury around time
cultivate ease around transitions
See if carving these margins into your days doesn't change your life a little. Or a lot.
Speaking of deep breaths... can't wait for the launch of this offering! What a wonderful Christmas gift for yourself, for a friend.