Thursday, April 7, 2011
I started a new round of yoga classes recently. Yoga for Mom 'n Me, offered through the Winnipeg parks and rec department. At the beginning of the first class, the teacher asked us to introduce ourselves and our babies, and share why we had signed up for the class. I said that I wanted to get back into a regular practice.
In his book, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, Nathaniel Branden writes,"A practice implies a discipline of acting in a certain way over and over again- consistently. It is not action by fits and starts, or even an appropriate response to a crisis. Rather it is a way of operating day by day, in big issues and small, a way of behaving that is also a way of being."
Practice is so much of my life these days. Little by little, day by day, I am trying to work new patterns into my life. Creating changes in my thinking, in my parenting, in my reacting - just by living mindfully in the moment. That's yoga. Taking what is in your head, and integrating it into how you live, how you move, how you breath. And then taking your breath, that most simple and automatic behaviour of living, and using it to transform what it is in your head. It is a way of operating day by day. A way of being.
I have noticed that my way of operating day by day is pervasive, and difficult to change. The sharp edge of criticism in my self-talk creeps out to colour the way I speak to my son in my frustration. The sighs, the rolled eyes, the "Why can't you just" statements... They are there in my head, but they also come out on my tongue. These are not the words that I want to contribute to the voices in his head! I am determined that negative thinking not be the legacy I pass on.
I am reading, reading, reading about other ways, better ways, but I need so much practice. Paul says it well, in Romans 7:15: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Oh, preach on, brother. When the ideas are fresh and my head is clear, I feel that I know exactly how to deal with my son, and with myself. But at the end of the day, when my patience is thin and the baby is crying and I just want him to brush his teeth already... Well, you can guess that it does not always work out.
My prayer is still for calm spirits and thankful hearts, and we are blessed to be gaining on them day by day. But there is more work to be done. We need more practice.
One of my favourite parts of my yoga class is the bit at the beginning, where you set your intention for your practice. You can decide to push yourself, or to be gentle, to play with poses, or to settle into them with discipline. But I need to set intention for more than just my life on the mat. So I am setting an intention for a different kind of practice. It is an intention for patience, for forgiveness, and for change for the better.
And when intention meets practice, supported by prayer... That is where the magic happens.