This story is where I began this journey...
I once read a quote that I will paraphrase because I do not remember it verbatim nor do I remember its author, but its sentiment rang in my ears. “If you squeeze an orange you get orange juice. When you are squeezed, what comes out?” Well, when I had my second child, I was being squeezed and I did not like what was coming out. I was exhausted and my 2 ½ year old daughter was finding it very challenging to adjust to sharing her mom. With all of this in my world, I found myself (to use a colloquial term) “losing it” more than I liked. Never anything abusive, just moments of a complete lack of patience filled with irritation. I expressed sadness and frustration to my family and friends. Their responses were always a variation of, “You are tired. It is to be expected.” Or “All parents experience moments of shear frustration. It just means you are normal.” These responses did not satisfy nor pacify me. Perhaps it was the perfectionist in me, but “normal” wasn’t good enough for me and I didn’t feel it was normal. I wanted my children to have a joyful, blissful childhood marked by a mom who was grounded in love and compassion. I was not feeling grounded and I was not feeling in touch with my soul. A question kept coming up for me from Nonviolent Communication a book written by Marshall B. Rosenberg: “What allows some people to stay connected to their compassionate nature under even the most trying circumstances?” What was I not doing?
As I began to look inside myself, curious as to why I was losing it when I did, I made some connections between those moments and other things. I noticed almost always my moments were preceded by thoughts marked by fear. Generally these thoughts were around my big fear in life – financial instability – and had nothing to do with my children. But they were enough to sap me of my energy and drain my compassion and love. I also noticed certain other variables contributed to my negativity. What I watched on television (even if I watched television, regardless of what I watched), what I ate, people with whom I interacted, what I chose to read in my free time.
I then turned to what would create more compassion in my heart. I didn’t want to just “control” the negativity; I wanted to alleviate the seed. I wanted compassion and love to be what came out the next time I was “squeezed”. I evaluated my spiritual practice and other “disciplines” I maintained. I discovered some of those disciplines, ostensibly used to foster my connection with myself, were done out of fear and not love; because I felt I “should” be doing them. I also began to consciously fill myself with love, let go of judgment of others and myself, and open myself up to the loving support of others.
When I began this journey, I did not connect it to the greater works of “nonviolence” giants like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., etc. It felt like such a small piece of work, just working on my relationship with my children. I realize now that that is where it begins. The small changes we make within ourselves create a ripple effect within ourselves and also affect others as well as the consciousness of the world. As I worked on my relationship with my children, I evolved as an individual. I became a kinder, more loving wife, daughter, sister, friend, and yoga teacher. I know I am creating two much more compassionate and loving souls for the world than my old self would have and I cannot even begin to guess the effect I have had on others along the way who have then gone on to effect others.
It is the work I did (and am doing) that I present to you here. May you end the year with more awareness, more love in your heart, and living more in harmony with your Higher Self.
Laura and Ron