Yoga, like parenting, is a lifelong practice that confronts us with all facets of ourselves. We have good days and not so good days, but our role is to keep showing up and paying attention.
In making yoga a regular part of your lifestyle, particularly if you have a home practice away from the encouragement and motivation of a class or teacher, you may be familiar with those days when your practice feels more like a stale routine than a discovery tour. You may find your practice lacks that sense of exploration and investigation that brings with it the magic, the freshness, the learning. The little things that keep our attention focused – noticing the subtleties of how our body feels in the pose today, paying attention to the wandering thoughts of the mind or watching the breath, etc. There is much to pay attention to for both the novice and the experienced practitioner alike and by keeping the mind engaged in this way we come to experience present moment awareness and the meditative-like state during our practice.
Repetition, however, often sees us switch to auto-pilot. It is much easier to have a beginners mind when we are new to something. We have a natural curiosity and a sense of awe and wonder that keeps the mind alert and engaged. This is far less likely when we are dealing with the familiar and we feel we can predict the outcome.
It takes a lot of mental skill and mindful attention to approach the familiar with a beginners mind.
As a parent I wrestle with my auto-pilot responses regularly. They serve as a shorthand way of addressing issues that come up repeatedly. It is a way to avoid having to re-invent the wheel every time I am called upon to settle the same arguments or make the same requests. It is very tempting when we have been over this same ground many times before (many!). It is, however, also a way of disengaging. I am somehow just going through the motions and doing what I have always done. As with yoga, if I am not fully present whilst parenting my children I miss out on gaining valuable insight. If I am unable to approach an all-too-familiar situation with a fresh eye I am unable to find new solutions. I also miss out on staying present to my own experience in the moment. This leaves me more likely to be tossed around by the emotional waves that rush toward me in the challenging moments and lose sight of my parenting values.
Whether we are performing a long series of sun salutations in our yoga practice or repeatedly revisiting the same conversations with our children about unresolved issues, staying present with what our experience is helps us to grow and learn, and ultimately feel more engaged with life and with our children.
If you would like to learn more about yoga and mindfulness I will be holding a series of Art and Yoga workshops in and around Melbourne where we will explore these ideas in a creative and supportive environment. The first workshop in the series is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage, learning to flex our bravery muscles . A second workshop will run for tweens and parents/caregivers and we look at Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.
To find out more jump over here.
Michelle Seelig is the proud mother of 2 creative, courageous girls and has worked in health and well-being for 25 years. She is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach and an artist with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. Using art, yoga and coaching practices in her workshops Michelle combines her skills and insights to deliver a unique, creative and transformative experience.