Before i took this recent and unintentional hiatus from the blogosphere i was drafting a piece about the importance of protecting our baby’s nervous systems… Then, not so ironically, a stint of mother-burnout snuck up on me and the process of re-membering my own nervous system was brought into full focus. So, this post will address my ongoing journey of putting my oxygen mask on first (a very sloppy work in progress), and then i will post a Part II about the delicate nature of a baby’s senses and their wondrous and developing nervous system.
The nervous system, at least in my mind, is kind of like a bridge between our physical and ethereal bodies. The stronger our physical nervous system is, the more radiant our aura, the more magnetic we are and the more spacious our hearts feel. Our nervous system determines how well we contain and filter the stuff of life. It ultimately facilitates how tolerant we are, how giving we are, how much we like ourselves and others, and how much peace we feel inside. Our nervous system determines our capacity for life. It’s no small thing. Therefore, mothers need strong nervous systems most of all! Being a mother is the biggest privilege but also the biggest job. So much is asked of us each day and, let’s face it, mothers (and in many cases, fathers) sculpt society. The more conscious and emotionally healthy, happy and grounded mothers are, the healthier, happier and more grounded the children of this planet will grow to be. The more sturdy and juicy and balanced our nervous systems, the more we can handle emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I find that when my nervous system is weak my mind and body become infested with insecurity, fear, worry, self loathing and other products of low energy. While on the other hand, a strong nervous system cultivates vitality, happiness and peace.
The problem i’ve been having is figuring out a way to reinvest in myself, to really take care of my nervous system at a time when it is taxed with the kind of sleeplessness that tallies up slowly and then creeps up on me like a silent ninja. All week i’ll have been flowing along with the stream and doing great and then, BAM! The rug is pulled out from underneath me and i find myself crying in the bathroom at 8pm, drying off my body while i still have a head full of conditioner because Veda awoke and needs me during the first hour that i’ve taken for myself that day. I was so tired and jarred from my moment of freedom that i forgot to rinse.
I’ve been grasping for rejuvenation time since writing Mindfulness & Mothering, but i have struggled greatly with how to implement this for myself on a more regular basis. The struggle becomes intensified during patches where Veda is needier or more restless for one reason or another (as is the current case), but of course it is during those times particularly that i need to take care of myself most of all. Somehow i managed to go the first 5 months of motherhood feeling fabulous and full of vital energy before the mother burnout began to set in. I believe that ingesting my placenta had a lot to do with my amazing comeback from pregnancy and birth, almost to the point that it duped me into thinking i was in good shape when i really needed to get back in the self care saddle and find ways to cleanse and nourish my energy and body again. At 20 weeks postpartum i began to feel like a runaway train that was about to crash and burn. I was buzzing with so much adrenaline, which was clearly helping me to keep up throughout the days, but then keeping me restless at night even when i had the opportunity to crash for a few hours. This energy was unsustainable and i could feel the imbalance beginning to eat away at me. Suffice it to say that i was quickly amongst the ruins of said train. The crash was nothing too terrible, just- getting sick, realizing that i have been pretty reactive in my relationship, and having had a couple moments of becoming completely undone in situations that i would have normally been able to digest quite effortlessly (i.e. the crying shower unrinsed hair episode). It was time to restructure and rebalance my little ecosystem. Because essentially, and this is very important to note, babies bask in our energy fields. It’s just the natural way of it. We are one with our babies and it is our duty to provide a clear and spacious place for them to figuratively frolic. The Part II piece to follow this post will go into more detail about all that… For now i’d just like to share a little bit about what i do to take care of my nervous system as it may support a lot of you out there as well. And i promise that at some point before my daughter turns one i will get a video meditation up on this site, one that will be quick, easy, and very restorative, and that you can tap into whenever you have the time.
Kundalini yoga is the best way i know to balance my nervous system. It’s also a very holy practice to me, a big part of my life. It’s even how i met my husband… during a meditation on the very birthday anniversary of our dear teacher Yogi Bhajan. Kundalini Yoga and Meditation (*as taught by Yogi Bhajan) is high grade medicine, a powerful technology for filtering energy, stretching the physical body as well as the subtle body, cleansing your subconscious mind, connecting to divine source within and around you, sharpening your tools, and tuning your instrument. It’s all that and more. If you can find yourself a kundalini yoga class, that would be amazing. If you can even just buy yourself a Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa Kundalini Yoga and Meditation DVD, that would be super duper too. Our teacher Yogi Bhajan says, “One Kundalini Yoga set done well is more than one needs.” If you’ve never done this kind of yoga and meditation, check it out with an open mind. Some days i do a 3 minute breathing exercise and it makes me feel great! 3 minutes! We all have that.
What i have recently realized, in terms of taking care of myself, is that i don’t have to put some grand master plan in place. I can go day by day. When i wake up each morning i can ask myself (and perhaps enlist my husbands support if he can spare some time that day), “what can i do today to take care of myself?” Maybe that day i can get my husband to look after Veda for an hour or two so i can do yoga, meditate or write. Maybe i can commit to opportunize one of her 30 minute naps that day by promising that i will get into a hot bath and soak until she wakes up, or nap with her. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It only has to be doable and self-loving. Sometimes in an effort to change something that isn’t working or to solve a problem, we overwhelm ourselves with a massive commitment that is intended to forever alter the way our life functions! This rarely works. This is what i like to think of as ‘the new years resolution syndrome’. Most peoples new years resolutions flop by February because they don’t have the manageable plan in place to ensure the daily steps towards it’s completion. Small, manageable, and tangible daily tasks are much more likely to be achieved.
So stay with me as i wind ’round and ’round this magical mystery tour of motherhood, with it’s ever shifting landscape, it’s (sometimes) draining exhaustion and it’s (always) naturally effervescent boundless joy. Figuring out how to put my oxygen mask on first is so hard when i would literally die for this child, but it’s a work in progress, just like me.