Fighting Fear and Finding Joy

I am the mother of a human child. This is really very complicated at times. It is so heartbreakingly beautiful and difficult in the same moment. On top of this, she is changing ALL THE TIME. She is impossible to organize and keep clean. She follows the rules and then breaks them all every day. 

Living with this little human child means that there are moments of such joy that I can hardly believe I am this lucky to be her mother. She holds my face when I sing to her and we laugh and kiss each other. Time stands still and it is perfect. The thing is, there is this voice of fear that creeps up inside too often during these moments. It says things like, "what if something ever happens to her?" Darn you fear! This was a perfectly golden moment until you poked your little head into it. 

I used to think this is just what it means to be a mother, that one can hardly enjoy a perfect moment with your child without being completely gripped by fear. But recently I heard some beautiful and challenging words from the researcher and storyteller, Dr. Brené Brown. She said that in all her years of intensive research, gathering stories of people's lives and listening to them in their most vulnerable truth-telling, she has found that JOY is the single most difficult emotion to experience. She talks about this very human tendency, that as soon as joy creeps in, we are sabotaged by fear. She believes that it takes the utmost courage to show up in our lives and practice joy. 

Whoa! What?!? This completely floored me and also made total sense. The experience of true joy is so absolutely vulnerable and so out of my own control. It is a call to utmost presence in the moment. I realized that too often I let fear pull me right out of the joy. I do not want this kind of fear in my life. 

What if the greatest gift we can give our child is our joy? What if our total presence and delight in them at any given moment is the thing that will help them feel known, safe and give them courage to expand and grow? I know that for me, I would like to choose more joy than fear.

I guess raising a human child requires a human mother. There's nothing more human than being vulnerable, letting myself be alive and truly experience joy.  

What yoga teaches us about duality and the importance of AND.

It’s inevitable. Duality shows up our lives through our emotions, nature, circumstance, energy and thoughts. Bringing a child into this world is both challenging and incredible, exhausting and euphoric. Stepping into motherhood is no different. In fact, parenting might be the most intense reflection of the highest highs and lowest lows.

Yoga is not the practice for maintaining the high, but rather oscillating between the two with grace and compassion. Practicing yoga does not make you a better mother, but rather gives you the tools to trust yourself.  

You need not choose between anything. You are a living, breathing, human caring for another living breathing human. There is an AND.  AND gives us permission to experience the [emotion, circumstance, environment, condition]. In the same moment you might be grateful for this little being AND frustrated that they don’t sleep, blessed with the gift of life AND stressed from daily demands, totally in love with your baby AND mourning your former freedom. These feelings carry information, offering awareness and opportunities for acceptance.  Damage happens when we deny our experience. You are not alone.

Power thoughts for coping with duality:

  1. This [emotion, circumstance, environment, condition] is temporary.

  2. Like nature, I am always changing, growing and molting. I give myself permission to release old identities to create way for new ones.

  3. I honor my spectrum of emotions as an emblem of being alive.

  4. I am not alone

Share about a time when you experienced an ‘AND’ in your life.