Off the Mat Yoga for Mamas: How to Shine Up
Last night my daughter got really annoyed that she had to get out of the bath. Usually I would get annoyed right back, but I was deep into the awareness of the Self at the moment, and I just smiled and said “okay, we’ll lose book time”.
Either way, she would have gotten out, but it was so nice to get to stay in MY happy place, rather than go there. So what’s this week’s yoga revelation all about?
Yoga is the study of the Self. But what’s really the point of knowing our Self? When we go through transitions in life like becoming a mom, miscarrying, or other intense challenges, we tend to experience a lost feeling – a “who am I?” and “how am I going to get through this?”
If we have some yoga practices to fall back on – poses, meditations, pranayama, chanting – we are more easily able to find our way again. But what does it actually mean to find the Self? Who else would we be, right?
Wrong. According to yoga, the Self is like a reflective surface that can get dusty. To understand this, we must first be familiar with the two parts of everything, its essence and the form it’s taking:
Siva – Consciousness, the essence of all things, the steady, masculine energy of the universe
Shakti – the power of everything in the universe to take different forms, the flowing, feminine energy of the universe
We are all made up of both form and essence, Siva and Shakti, but we often got attached to the Shakti, or the forms life is taking: “I am a production manager”, “I am in love”, “I am healthy,” “I am going to be a mom”. When we start to think that the form IS actually the essence, our window gets covered over.
When we connect again to our Siva essence, we can feel good again. But how to find it?
One metaphor I think of a lot is this: Think of a photograph of yourself as a little toddler or even a baby. While all the forms of you have changed – none of your features (or Shakti, the forms) are exactly the same – the part that you can recognize as you is Siva. That’s unchanging. That’s our essence.
You might not be able to name it in words, but close your eyes. No matter what is happening in your life – no matter how crazy it feels – this essence is there. Steady, loving, wise and powerful.
Feel those qualities you recognize in your baby picture. It’s you. And no matter what – whether big events are occurring, or even just connecting with the people in your life – we can choose to stay in this essence.
Choosing to stay in your Siva essence doesn’t mean we’re not affected by the world, or that forms don’t matter. The world is made up of forms and as they change we’ll go up and down, we’ll be attracted or feel repelled. But whether your day is made up of little conversations or big life transitions, if you choose to do what you need to do to stay in your Siva essence today, you will shine your light.
And when we talk about “shining out”, it’s not just about radiating the light of the Self; it can also refer to what happens when we clean off a reflective surface, like glass.
So when people are around us, they see their own reflection. When we shine the essence our Self, what others see is their own goodness – steady, loving, wise, and powerful – reflecting right back at them.
So, if you have misplaced you Self, Mama, come shine yours up in yoga!