Weekly reflections on navigating towards loving tenderness:
A few days ago, my 2 year old daughter was approaching that time of day a lot of mother’s call the “witching hour”, where tensions are high and unrealistic toddler demands are even higher. We had reached our breaking point for the day and I was this close to making threats about lost privileges that I knew would have never been a fruitful tactic. In that moment, my inner wisdom intuitively redirected us to the next best step and the path down least resistance. We’d take a bath…and we’d do a quick Ayurvedic oil massage (abhyanga).
Bath time seems to be revered as a sacred tool for saving souls in the world of parenting. It’s reserved for cleaning up filthy toddlers and filthy attitudes on the daily. But I can hear it now…the oil massage feels a little over the top, right? Let me explain… The word for “oil” in Sanskrit translates to “loving tenderness”. When applied to the body, the deeper tissues of our mind, body and soul are tended to with love. So, on this day, we both bathed ourselves in love and the collective whinging stopped. My daughter even looked at me with her doe eyes and said, “mama, this fun”.
I share this story not in an effort to gain brownie points for our luxurious bathing experience, but to share how my personal practice has led me to a place that is more internally wise. In that bath moment, I had realized my personal practice had made a monumental shift that was worth honoring. If you would have asked me what personal practice meant before becoming a mother, my answer would have remained on the surface with mentions of self care, spiritual and personal growth, and the experimentation with a devotional routine. Looking back, my efforts felt misplaced and there was a lot of grasping for a forced reality that wasn’t even meant for me. I wasn’t fully embodying the practice.
Personal practice has become the piece of the puzzle that is the guiding backbone to everything I do and placed on the top of the priority list (right behind sleep and chocolate, of course). I’ve observed the shifts within that only happen when personal practice is transformed into a living and breathing entity. Today, my practice evolves with the ever-changing routines and rhythms of my family’s seasonal needs. We allow for the pivot, the ebbing and the flowing because that’s part of it. It’s not always something blocked off on the calendar, but found in the moments of natural transition, or moments of gratitude and awe, or moments on the brink of a toddler tantrum. It’s about having access to the wisdom within at any given moment and the practice itself is in the fine tuning of the ability to listen and course correct as you go.
As mothers, our practice is as simple as listening deeply to the wisdom that runs through us all. It’s a moment-by-moment devotional effort to return to our innate nature, which naturally is the place where things just feel GOOD! The result of the listening is a profound connection to all the moving pieces; connection, rhythm, and growth. So, it’s not about the fact that we did a fancy oil massage, but the fact that our inner guidance systems guided us there with loving tenderness.
With Love & Gratitude,
This week’s journal prompt: What is your personal definition of loving tenderness and how can you bring this quality into your personal practice today? In which ways can the mundane become a sacred reconnection to your innate nature?
Resources for your practice: Oil Massage How-To Video for littles, Dillon Tisdel’s perspective on a living practice on the Our Seva Blog, & The Conscious Parent Book: Transforming Ourselves and Empowering Our Children.
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Each week, expect a bite-sized personal reflection with accompanying journal prompt. My hope is that by sharing these reflections and prompts, you’ll be inspired into purposeful action and we’ll both be reassured that we are not alone in this process of unraveling.
Once a month, expect a curation of resources intended to inspire a deeper personal practice. There will be Q&A interviews to showcase how other women in this community navigate transformation, articles and podcasts that have made a lasting impression and practical mindfulness exercises to bring about sustainable change. If you’re a fan of mantra…there will be some of that too.