Dillon Tisdel, mama to three, plant-based chef of Oh Holy Basil & Antara Retreat Center), and devotee to inner truth has an unassuming presence that can inspire a deeper connection to your truest nature. Her innate wisdom is a beautiful alchemy of practical modern life advice paired with the the magical essence that’s present when in communion with the natural flow of things.
I recently sat down with Dillon to talk about how personal practice and devotion play out in her busy household. She shares what it means to be in full embodiment and what it could look like to incorporate a sustainable personal practice into the modern lives of modern women (in a completely attainable way!) In this part two of our interview, Dillon and I talk about how devotion can be interwoven into the practices we help blossom within our children and how we can create family rhythms to support the exploration.
Q: Welcome back, Dillon! Let’s dive back in and explore how devotion and personal practice can seep into the lives of our children. Let’s lay the foundation, can you walk us through what a “devoted day” (dawn to dusk) might look like for you and your family’s rhythm?
I wake up, ideally around 5:30 and do some quick Ayurvedic cleansing rituals: scraping my tongue, washing my face and applying some sesame oil to my body. I make a big jar of warm water with lime and bring it with me to our meditation room.
I have a practice of chanting to the Divine Mother, which takes about an hour and then if time is spacious, I meditate and pray out whatever is on my heart.
If time permits, I do 20-40 minutes of yoga which opens up my body and helps to ground the energy generated by all of the chanting. By this point kids and husbands begin to wander out.
I light some incense, put on Krishna Das and begin making breakfast while getting my son ready for school.
I clean the kitchen and tidy the house while listening to Ram Dass lectures or more devotional music. Some days there is dancing.
I navigate meltdowns, sometimes maintaining my inner spaciousness, sometimes not.
I play with my kids or oversee an art project.
The baby poops on the floor. I call this “potty training”.
Around 11:30, I start making lunch; we eat.
Come afternoon, I see a friend, take my kids to the river or process on the couch with my mom.
The sense of peace felt earlier in the day is likely starting to fray. I open and close the refrigerator doors, repeatedly, hoping a Honey Mama’s cacao bar magically manifests.
I have an internal battle about whether or not to buy myself some quiet with screen time while I make dinner.
My husband Kyle and I catch each other up on the happenings of the day and our inner experience of things.
After dinner we hang out as a family. On weekends we watch something wholesome.
By 8/8:30 we are in bed for stories, mantra recitation and sleep.
Q: You mentioned chanting to the Divine Mother and mantra being at the center of your morning practice… if someone was interested in exploring devotional chanting/mantra for themselves or with their children, do you have any favorite resources to get us started?
Unless you feel a strong intuitive draw to a specific mantra practice, I would suggest starting with kirtan (call and response devotion singing). It is joyful, heart opening and accessible. Krishna Das’ music has opened the kirtan portal for many of us from the west. Breath of the Heart (available on all streaming platforms) is my recommended starting place.
Kirtan Kids, by Jai Uttal is a favorite in our house. It is part kirtan for kids, part storytelling. I have found the stories of the deities to be one of the best entrance points for kids. There are many sweet books for children as well, specifically on the stories of young Krishna.
Q: As a mother of three, how do you see your personal practice influencing your children’s lives? In what ways do you integrate these micro moments of awareness into their daily lives?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell with the younger ones. There are the gross-level ways that I see them absorbing our approach to life: I’ll find them chanting lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu, praying over their food or discussing the stories of Hanuman. But I am starting to see a more subtle integration of our practice in Joah, who is nine. I think that there is a sense of relaxation in his being that comes from feeling held in a larger field of intelligence. As he has gotten older, he has maintained an awareness of magic that sometimes shuts down in older children. I think that this is, in part, due to the fact that everyone around him reflects back a reality outside of the five senses, on a daily basis. I am not sure if he is just a product of his context or a super tapped in dude (probably a little of both), but he has had his own mystical experiences that have given him a direct knowledge of this expanded view of reality. Right now, he relates to those experiences on the level of magic and mystery.
As a family, we also integrate moments of awareness in how we come together at meals, how we invite the kids to tune to their feelings and how we acknowledge the sacred in everything.
Q: Rhythm, routines, and rituals tend to be the glue that keeps our family units moving forward gracefully. Do you have any family or personal rhythms/rituals that you’d like to share?
I am a person that values fluidity. I like to hold the heartbeat of our family’s rhythm in a larger context of mutability and this tendency has both positive and negative aspects to it. I value a steady rhythm but also want the family system to have the elasticity to be able to lay down the routine when the moment opens up to something outside of it.
I tend to create rituals that change with the seasons. This summer we developed a nightly ritual of drinking tea on our deck while watching the sunset. In winter, it might be a ritual of books by the fire. I gravitate towards simple structures that provide a container for connection. Coming together with people that we love to celebrate throughout the year also creates a rhythmic marking of the seasons.
Heart-centered-merry-making creates richness for children and adults alike.
Q: Celebrating the change of seasons is always a beautiful way in honoring our practices. Are there any Vedic-based rituals or traditional celebrations that anchor your family and help develop a deeper appreciation and devotion to the “living practice”? How do you get the littles involved?
We live right next door to the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram and Hanuman Temple in Taos and go to about five festivals per year at the ashram. These festivals are not exactly “traditional”, but they are beautiful, rich and highly devotional. They are huge anchors in our lives and the lives of our children, providing a deep container to touch into our devotion in a powerfully concentrated way. For the kids, they are times of abundant food, sweets, merry-making, friends and music. Basically just a really good party with some deeper elements, no doubt, seeping through. The cycle of these festivals absolutely creates an alternate rhythm to our year, running parallel to the traditional western holidays that we celebrate as well.
Thank you so much for joining me, Dillon. Check out Part One of this interview if you’d like a little more behind-the-scenes look at how Dillion devotes herself to a living practice!
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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.