I go to yoga to care for my body, but sometimes the biggest impact is on my mind! In my last class, my instructor shared perspectives that I needed to hear. I’m sharing it in case you need to hear it, too. Her* message was about yoga, but it applies to parenting, too.
I believe a lot of us think that if we just practice long and hard enough, one day we will reach some perfectly balanced, calm pinnacle and remain there forevermore. It’s really important that we disabuse ourselves of this idea as soon as possible. Why? The very essence of parenting is about falling in and out of balance, in and out of connection, in and out of inner calm.
If we always lived a perfectly balanced life with perfectly balanced parenting and if we never struggle, we will not grow. We will just be living a kind of embalmed life. The psychoanalyst Adam Phillips said, “Unbalancing acts are a vital and indicative part of our aliveness.”
As I went through the yoga class and my ankles wobbled in the balance poses, the instructor challenged us to accept the wobble. No judgment. No thinking we shouldn’t wobble. The act of our ankles wobbling means they are working to activate the right muscles to find balance side-to-side and front-to-back. I have to admit, it felt good to hear her say to embrace the wobble. In life, as in yoga, we constantly move in and out of balance. Every change in position requires us to find a new balance.
Isn’t it the same with parenting? And all relationships? We find a moment of connection. Then we lose it. There is no such thing as staying perfectly balanced in the same position indefinitely. And yet, every parent I know (and I know a lot of them!) laments the times they’ve been out of balance. Most think they should be in a more constant state of balance and connection.
What makes us feel fully alive is dropping into what feels most unsettled and most unbalanced instead of avoiding or denying what’s hard. Dropping into discomfort is counterintuitive, however, because we usually want discomfort to just go away.
So, let’s give ourselves compassion as we drop in and embrace whatever is coming up in our experience of parenting. Without running away from anything, without running after anything, just notice what’s here. Let’s accept that the ankle has to wobble to get into Eagle or Half-Moon pose. And let’s try to accept that parenting is a never-ending series of coming into and out of balance. There is nothing wrong, nothing broken about the process; it’s just the nature of things.
*I was inspired by my yoga instructor, Ann Bortz. She was inspired by psychoanalyst, Adam Phillips.