“Oh my God. There’s crap everywhere. I can’t deal with this,” I think to myself. “I have to take care of it right freaking now.” My heart rate starts to pick up. Every direction I turn my head, I see something else that requires my attention. Clothes that need washed, balls of Fozzie fuzz in the floor, stuff that needs put away, cleaned out, or organized. I see bins of clothes that I’ve dragged out for the girls to “shop” in as the weather has warmed up. I need to sort through it, put away and organize winter clothes for the next one to grow into. Re-load summer clothes in the drawers. I feel my breathing becoming shallow. “But what about my yoga practice? All the books I’m trying to read? What about the article I’ve been planning to write for the last month? How am I going to do it? Why don’t I have more time?”
“How am I ever going to be anything more than just a mom?”
My mind has officially taken over. I can feel the downhill spiral. I’m reaching full-blown anxiety attack. I look around. The kids are playing in the playroom. I look away before I can take in the mess in there. My husband is sitting, reading. I look away. I want to do that, but I just…can’t. I have too many responsibilities, too much to get done. And it’s all my job. I’m responsible for all this…stuff. I’m turning circles, trying to do everything, and getting very little of anything done.
My chest heaves. My brain has basically devolved into a lovely chant by now: “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t”…and so on.
It’s at this point that I start to dislike everyone around me. Everyone who’s brain isn’t betraying them. Everyone who can just relax, play, read. Everyone who isn’t freaking the fuck out because they’re so goddamned overwhelmed by…everything.
I read so many books on the mind. So many books about using meditation to bring yourself back to center. They tell me that the mind is not me. They tell me that letting my thoughts run things is akin to having a really shitty, crazy roommate living in your head, giving you bad – not to mention conflicting – advice, twenty-four hours a day. “You don’t have to tell me that!“, I think. Shut up, Brain. They tell me that we have everything we need inside us.
So I meditate. I sit, I chant, I breathe. Ujjayi, alternate nostril, retention. Breath of fire, shitali. I listen to ancient, powerful chants: wahe guru, om nama shivaya, om gam ganapataye namaha, the gaitri mantra. I repeat my mantra. “You are enough, you are enough, you are enough, you are enough, you are enough, you are enough, you are enough, you are enough”…until it starts to sound weird: “youareeough, youarenough, yourenough, yourenough, yurenough, yurnuf, yurnuf, yurnuf.”
I practice yoga. I move, sweat, and breathe. I try and focus my mind on my breath, on my practice, on the pose. Rarely am I successful. The dog comes and lays in my mat. The little one needs to pee, eat, drink, falls down. I wonder why I’m not as strong today as I was yesterday. Why I’m still carrying around 25 extra pounds from that last pregnancy. Why I didn’t practice five times last week. I know I would be stronger, more flexible, more zen – if I’d squeezed in that last practice last week.
And still. Still. Sometimes, I just completely lose my shit. One person asks me for one thing too many. I just can’t manage to squeeze in that last chore that I need to do. I have to tell someone to pick up their goddamn sock one time too many, or take a shower, or brush their teeth, or eat the dinner I just spent an hour cooking. And…KABOOM! I imagine what follows is the scenario my children will be relating to their therapists in about fifteen years:
“and then, my mom would just…snap. Red face, screaming, cursing. ‘Get it together,’ she would yell. “Do you think I live to fold your laundry, to pick up after you, to cook your damn dinner? Do you think I’m having fun, that this is the way I want to spend my life?”
I call these “Bad Parenting Moments”. Because the fact is, this is how I want to spend my life, at least part of it. I like taking care of my family. I just want it to not be so freaking hard sometimes. I’ve managed to use my tools to beat back some pretty major depression. I get out of bed every morning and do what has to be done, and usually a lot more. I’m focused and driven. Still, I find myself falling behind. Every now and then, my mind gets the best of me.
I read a lot about how the mind rebels when we’re not living in a way that is aligned with our spiritual purpose, how things grow harder and harder the more we move away from our path.
What if you’re still looking for your path? What if you have several paths, and are firmly on one, but trying to find a way to navigate a bunch of paths at once? How do you live spiritually aligned in that case?
Life is so much more complex than it used to be. And as many guide books as I read, I just can’t seem to figure it out.