they didn't sigh or refuse. they just did it. they've done it before but lately it's not been without conflict or outright refusal. oftentimes we're simply too distracted to get still.
as we took several good, long inhalations we fell into such a peaceful state that my youngest let out a toot which i subsequently inhaled. fully. before i could even think to stop myself. oh the giggles that caused! even from me. for once, i didn't say anything or wonder whether or not i'd just fart-shamed my kid. i laughed about it. i mean, i did just read that sniffing farts can prevent disease but i'm pretty sure it was the actual breath work that helped me not freak the fuck out because omg i've been smelling smelly things that are smelly ever since my little brother was born and i'm over it.
after the laughter subsided, i started to think about how we take breath for granted. expecting it to be automatic, we often hold our breath without even realizing it. an awareness of our breath can reduce the impact of stress, but only if we really breathe. i know. obvious, but also epiphany. i took the opportunity to ask the boys how often they took such deep, cleansing breaths on their own.
my eight year old said, "when i'm reminded to."
"and how often are you reminded?"
"about once a week."
i remind myself to breathe several times a day and i remind them more than once a week, though, as i mentioned, we're not always receptive. if i had to guess, i'd say i only take deep, cleansing breaths about 1 time for every 6 reminders.
"what kinds of things could we do to remind ourselves more often?" i asked.
a circular argument ensued wherein my eight year old suggested that you just remember and then do it until it becomes habit, problem solved.
maybe it is that easy for some folks and i just muddied up his story by explaining that sometimes we forget the things we need to remember, especially when there's quite a few of them, so it helps if we have other ways to remind ourselves.
"we could write it down!" he said.
"good. we could write it down. i write stuff down all the time, in notebooks. then i close them and don't open them again until i have something else to write...how could we make our reminders more visible?"
"let's write it on our arm"
"okay," i said, "actually, i'll write it on my hand like a gangsta: breathe, muthafucka."
at which point, my suddenly very moral five year old says, "i don't want you to be a whatever you just said. you're not a gangsta."
"you're right...but," i tried to recover, "there's a shirt that says: gentle spirit badass motherfucker on it. i think of it often, we can be both. i mean, i am both a gentle spirit and a badass motherfucker."
"but that's bad," he said.
"the words can have bad feelings associated with them, but they're not bad, in and of themselves. one day you may appreciate that mama thinks batman, for instance, is a badass motherfucker and that's not a bad thing...but for now, i will be more mindful of my language."
i didn't explain to him how i no longer define things as good or bad because i embrace the way light and dark can and must co-exist. i know that buddha says we must be impeccable with our word, but i will probably always swear. some part of me, no matter how softened, will always be a little hardcore, however, mindful daily practice helps me act less out of guilt, and more out of a desire to best model what i want for myself and for my children. he is only five and all that matters to him is that i am his kind mama. right. now.
"mama? don't really put that word on your hand."
i assure him that i won't and then smile at my own beginner's mind. though i feel always-mindful of his sensitivity, i'd taken for granted his sweet innocence. it hadn't occurred to me that he would think i'd actually put a swear word on my body.
|yeah. i'm not gangsta.|
even though both boys are playing at the neighbor's, and it is mildly tempting to at least add "mofo" after "breathe," i won't even do that. i will keep my word.
"i might want that big craft table in my studio but it's so heavy and would be such a pain in the ass to move" or "i could move my desk and put yoga stuff in that corner, but then i'd have to rearrange all that stuff on the wall."
my vision and my motivation are not currently in sync, in all areas. and that's okay.
the opportunity to change arises in each moment. thereafter, it becomes a conscious choice. much like my eight year old described, you can just decide to do something and then go do it, however, in my experience, not without frequent reminders and baby steps, and not all at once.
they don't call it practice for nothing ;)