During shavasana this morning, my mind wandered. Yes, the place where I’m supposed to stay focused on breath; my mind wandered, and I had a glimpse of mental clarity.
Minds are tricky. Actually, they are like a spider web. Messy. My mind is often a mess, so this sparkling of clarity feels really good. I doubt that I’m alone when I describe my mental clarity and emotional health as lacking. Blame it on hormones each month…I do turn into a snarling bear. I would even go as far to say that I have some characteristics of depression…or maybe temporary, mental obstacles in my path. I struggle with jealousy, insecurity, guilt, fear, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion; and I struggle with resolving these in a consistently sound fashion. It has taken me to the ripe age of 37 when I am finally figuring out and accepting that this complicated mind of mine is, well, mine. And with that same breath, I accept that there are things, such as yoga, that give me mental clarity…that encourage good mental health. But I certainly have a long ways to go to feel confident in the stability of my mind. I am beginning to believe it’s a lifelong practice.
So in these minutes of shavasana, I wondered what I have (or more likely, have not) taught my daughter about mental health. In the moments of being so caught up in my own wanderings, have I thought to give attention to TEACHING my daughter (and all of my children) how to take care of her mind? Not vividly. Not directly. I more so move in the direction of tasks because that is what I am good at. I do give myself credit in outwardly encouraging my children to be aware of their emotions and to give names to their feelings: “It looks like you feel frustrated.” “I bet that makes you angry.” Yes, the parenting books didn’t all go to waste. And that is a good starting point.
To each his own: our minds, our strengths, our weaknesses, all of those innatenesses (that’s a word, right?)…we learn to accept them and to work with them. My son has a metabolic disorder that results in glycogen not being stored properly…ultimately, his body doesn’t have the reserve for energy. So at the age of 2, we accepted this and found very doable ways to prevent him from waking up with terrifyingly low blood sugars. For example and to be specific, he must have a sufficient snack right before bedtime. We must keep a jar of apple juice on the shelf at all times just in case he wakes up low. Along the way, we’ve also discovered that cane syrup + food dye combinations are not only unhealthy, they are more than likely to send his body into depletion; he will wake up the next morning shaking, pale, nauseous, confused. We have “tested” our theories and our actions and are proven right (or wrong) each. and. every. time. This is him. We must be reminded of this (hopefully gently) and to continue to TEACH him that this is his body, and these are steps to take to keep it healthy.
I want to start shifting this line of thinking into mental health and emotional health: discovering your/my mind’s operations, accepting the what is, and then finding the actions that keep it healthy. And I want to do it outwardly with words and with actions.