Years ago when I was freshly single and traveling in India, I stayed with a dear friend and her 3-year-old son. They were living in Varanasi, the ancient mecca of Hindu spirituality. One afternoon we were out exploring temples through the narrow city streets, when I became increasingly annoyed by how her son was “the center of the universe.” Whether we were at a restaurant eating subji, puttering along in an auto-rickshaw to the village, or being rowed down the Ganges at sunset, our conversations were constantly being interrupted. I couldn’t complete a single sentence without drumming or whining or my friend tending to her son’s every desire. There I was on a pilgrimage to India and everything seemed to revolve around this little guy. Fast forward years later, as a new mom, I totally get it. My baby IS the center of my universe. Naturally as a Mother, my small sense of self has expanded, my capacity has grown, and my life and heart has reorganized to revolve around my little one, as I selflessly care for and respond to my son's emerging and ongoing needs in the midst of everyday life.
Becoming a new mom is an initiation into a new world—a world where your life is not your own anymore and you’re simply along for the cosmic roller coaster ride called motherhood. As a seasoned Yoga practitioner, no amount of chaturangas could prepare me for the stamina and humility required for the postpartum journey. For the first few months after giving birth, I was a thirsty, hot mess, living on instant oatmeal, lactation smoothies, and tea. I vaguely remember walking around like a hormonal zombie, severely sleep-deprived in my stinky, milk-drenched bathrobe with a fussy bundle of joy clinging to me. Simultaneously, I was falling deeper in love with this precious new being, who had just torn my heart, perineum, and life wide apart. Life will never be the same.
There are so many changes that come with being a mother. Along with jean size, friendships change, priorities become crystal clear, messy is the new norm, and sleep becomes an essential luxury. While it's obvious that the physical body goes through radical changes during pregnancy, birth, and after, what’s not so obvious is the subtle and gradual transformation of the heart. There’s nothing quite like experiencing the feeling of pure unconditional love for another human being. For me, it's been a deep knowing that no matter how hard they cry, or no matter how tired I am, I have access to a boundless wellspring of love and energy for my baby. As a mother, my heart has awakened to a new quality of joy and wonder, as I begin to see the world through my little one’s eyes.
This reminds me of a gem that Ravi Ravindra shared in his course on Yoga Anytime, Yoga as the Science of Inner Transformation, "Awareness is the primary mechanism of transformation.” As we become more sensitive and aware of our inner landscape of thoughts, feelings, subtle sensations, and emotions, our way of seeing and experiencing life gradually evolves and transforms.
As I reflect on the last 15 months of being a mama, having a child has been the perfect mechanism to heighten my level of awareness and practice psychological vigilance. While it’s true that my survival instincts and intuitive superpowers have kicked into gear, I’m struck by the intrinsic shifts within my own being. While there are still moments of anxiety, getting triggered, sarcasm, impatience, and frustration that arise, more often I’m surprised by my ability to respond with humor, generosity, ease, playfulness, and spontaneity.
As a mom, the stream of love and laughter that flows through me on a daily basis is palpable. Along with becoming more efficient and skilled at multitasking, I am slowly becoming more comfortable with messiness, there’s a new acceptance around my weight, and I don’t care as much about what others think of me. It could be because I’m just too tired to care, or maybe it’s because I feel like a total superwoman after doing a million things before 8:00 a.m. Increasingly, I feel a growing sense of freedom from myself. Whether I’m navigating the chaos of a shit-storm (aka diaper change) or doing my eighth load of laundry for the week, my capacity to respond while simultaneously witnessing the inner and outer landscape has grown.
Ravi shares, “... transformation is a change in the 'right' or desirable direction. Ask yourself, "How can I become the 'right instrument' for receiving the vibrations or energies coming from a higher level of consciousness?" Perhaps transformation is not the destination, but rather an ongoing journey of self-awareness and discovery.
As a mama, I find that I am continually making sacrifices, yet there are infinite gifts and rewards to experience. Nothing brings me more into the present moment than my child. For every meltdown there’s a radiant smile. For every tantrum there’s a snuggle. The joy in seeing my baby take his first few steps, or giggle uncontrollably in the presence of a small creature is pure magic. This is when my heart awakens to a deeper sense of Love.
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