“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” ~ Lao Tzu
I was on this guilt trip after the birth of our daughter. I used to be a regular yoga practitioner, doing the online class no matter what happened in the day. After the arrival of our third child, the practice has taken a back, back seat.
My core is not as active as it used to be, my strength level has taken a slight dip, I wake up with a stiff lower back, of course the body takes time to recover after the process of giving birth.
So a morning which was spent in class has been replaced by either preparing lunch for the older one to take to school or feeding the baby, and in between telling the second child to get ready for school.
This has brought up feelings of being unproductive, because this practice has always been my saviour and I hold it very close to my heart.
Adapt or wilt
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” ~ Albert Einstein
One way to approach this situation is to fret, wallow, whine and sulk (I do that too) in the corner of a room, with feelings of self-pity, that isn’t going to change the situation. This way we only develop resistance, resentment, self-loathing and so on.
Adapting to this new reality has to be the order of the day. I have been trying my best to accept the situation, which has helped to an extent that I have stopped sulking.
Self-development gurus talk about putting your needs first, indulging in self-care rituals, and so on. While that is important, but on delving deeper into that, I realised you can’t put yourself first in every situation. Rather, adapting to the situation is one quality we need to learn and imitate from the animal kingdom.
Our 13-year-old dog Cosmos in the heat of peak summer will dig holes in the ground to find wet mud to keep himself cool, and he will fall asleep in it till the temperature dips. Squirrels gather nuts in summer to store them for winter. At the animal shelter close to our home, we see 3-legged dogs running around comfortably because they have adapted to their new reality.
Whereas humans always struggle to do that, because we are so fixated on how things should be, our habitual patterns, or routine, that we forget it’s also important to be present in the current situation and to ride the wave of change instead of going against it.
With 3 children, life has been a bittersweet symphony, not only in terms of juggling between the various roles to be played in a day, but also to keep the calming vibes flowing at home. So there are days when I get time to do work, write, look for story ideas, but there are also many days when it doesn’t happen.
Does that mean discipline and self-care isn’t important?
If I maintained discipline in my practice and join the class in the morning, I would neither be able to do justice to the yoga practice, site work, nor to the 3 children etc., due to morning schedules and family constraints. This would only disrupt the peace in the house.
In order to flow and not be stuck and become an obstacle in your own path, we have to be able to give in to the need of the hour. Self-care is essential to stay healthy on all levels, at the same time not being too hard on yourself is equally important.
Change is inevitable, respond to it the way you want it to go
Change is as certain as nature’s rhythm – night follows day and vice-versa. It is not in our control, but what is within our control is our response to it.
Weather the storm, without getting distracted and demotivated. Think about a problem differently, and see what comes up for you. When we do that, we increase our ability to adapt, and then realise change wasn’t a bad idea after all.
Don’t fret if you aren’t getting the time to pursue what you really desired – whether it is yoga, meditation, reading a book, painting, or any of the self-care rituals, find an element of divine in your day-to-day activities, find moments in between the ebbs to slow down and flow.
Harbor a growth mindset
“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” ~ Carol S. Dweck
Keeping a growth mindset happens with practice and consistency. For me, I try to squeeze in time for my practice in between – I will do about 8-10 Surya namaskars, few asanas, stretches here and there, and I feel good, and I am able to move on to the next task. I feel this takes care of the current situation – the body is happy to get its exercise, the mind is not sulking, and the soul gets its medicine when the body and mind are at peace and harmony.
Work on increasing your capacities
This way you are also working on expanding your capacities and not getting rigid in your thinking. Discipline doesn’t translate to rigidity, because being rigid means something has hardened within you, there is no growth or development that happens in that space.
At the end of the day, when I review my day, I am amazed at the number of roles, tasks I have done in a day. It is keeping the growth mindset and changing the perception of the situation I am in that helps me to get through the day. This is redefining discipline, it is about finding the balance between inner peace and commitment to oneself to find opportunities for growth, even if it is in the mundane tasks.
Adapt and not wilt, change and not succumb, hang in there and enjoy the ride! The universe is there to take care of the rest. Trust me!
“ I make everything a ritual, and I always do my best. Taking a shower is a ritual for me, and with that action I tell my body how much I love it. I feel and enjoy the water on my body. I do my best to fulfill the needs of my body. I do my best to give to my body and to receive what my body gives to me.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz (The Four Agreements)