This morning I went grocery shopping… with the kids. I can hear all of the parents (of toddlers and babies especially) groaning at the thought. It’s a generally a stressful event to some degree but today was a particularly stressful outing. The kids were running around like total maniacs and acting as though I didn’t exist.
I can imagine if I had had my children before I had done my yoga training, I would have been a very different parent. In stressful situations I used to lose it, even in public. I have been known to lash out physically and verbally at a boyfriend who has upset me. I used to act like a toddler myself, in my twenties. I probably would have screamed at the kids if I had tried to take them grocery shopping back then. I really dislike when I see that happening and I am not judging any parent for any behaviour, I just feel sad.
I feel sad that the parent is so stressed out without knowing how to calm down and I feel sad for the kid because they are so confused.
The habit paramount to reducing my stress levels when the boys are presenting me with a large challenge is – conscious breathing!
I can bring myself into a state, from which I can approach the situation with calm wisdom. As I become aware that I am getting stressed out and want to yell, I inhale deeply and focus my attention on my breath – my attention is now in the present. When I exhale I release some of the tension that was building; I start to relax. Every breath helps me calm down more, until I am able to deal with my mini humans without being a ware-wolf. At least for the majority of the time… and I am invariably improving.
It is a habit that I am trying to pass onto the boys also, as they grow I want them to understand that they have the power to choose their reactions. I want to teach them that they CAN control one thing when they feel as though they have no control – their breath. I would go so far as to say that cultivating a daily conscious breathing practice will build up low self esteem, and cure anxiety or depression in a person of any age – big call, hey. The fact is, most people don’t know how to breathe effectively, let alone have an understanding of the various ways one can breathe to produce a specific effect on the mental state (I go into detail about these techniques in my workshops and classes). It is an invaluable tool to have and well worth the effort that goes into studying and practicing it.
I receive messages from students letting me know when they have conquered their usual feelings of hopelessness with the breath work they have learned. That kind of feedback is why I do this work. There is no better feeling than that of service to another person.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes how control (retention) of the breath is the key to peace of mind.
It really is that simple; however, just because a practice is simple doesn’t mean it is easy. You will get results immediately when you practice, but you also need to continue the practice diligently if you want lasting results; plus, unlike many other life long prescriptions, this has zero unpleasant side effects! Breathe deeply and feel vibrant 🙂