At first glance, this is me on my mat, practicing yoga and meditation. But that’s not really what I am doing. Yes, I am utilizing Yoga and Meditation as the tools that they are, but what I am really doing is working on mastering my own inner state of being and my ability to choose my energy more wisely. Mastery is a noun, but I think of it more like a verb. The definition itself is “comprehensive knowledge or skill in a subject or accomplishment”. It’s the skill that I am most interested in here. The knowledge comes, mostly after a lived experience, but the skill of maintaining a presence of mastery is what matters.
This morning, Audrey and I were on a ZOOM call with her classmates. I was set to teach them Yoga and as we began, Audrey became more and more upset. These last few days, her emotions have been especially potent. Playing in depth make-believe, squealing with joy on the beach and raging with anger when things aren’t going her way. She has even gotten physical with me a few times. I tell you this, because if anyone is struggling and comparing your kid against what you see online, I assure you that you are only getting half of a picture. The emotional landscape we human beings have is vast and wide. So much of our struggles come from believing that there is something “wrong” with the intensity of how we feel things, mostly because so much of what we feel gets hidden and feels secret. And the reality is that right now, we are all standing on emotional edges. Today’s class rolled on, Audrey was ushered away by her dad, and I finished teaching what we had planned on together, while also feeling my own intense feelings about what had just gone down. I was admittedly embarrassed and also sad that she was missing out on this moment of fun with people we hold so dearly.
Afterwards, I went upstairs, hugged her and listened to her tell me that she had been feeling nervous about teaching in front of her classmates and that she didn’t want me to teach either. Honest and real, and we talked about it for a while. She shared with me that what calmed her down was doing her “Sa Ta Na Ma” Meditation, ironically something we had planned on doing in the class. I was proud of her and told her so. And then my Mom decided to take her to my grandpa’s house for the afternoon (the one place we are ok to go right now). I knew she needed some time away and I knew exactly what I needed. I needed to work on my mastery of my own energy. And I had do that through intentional movement and intentional stillness.
I have learned in my years of study that emotional literacy as an adult must be learned through being very deliberate about it. If we weren’t given the space and autonomy to feel things freely as a child, it’s likely that we don’t have the skills to navigate our emotional waters as an adult. What’s even more likely is that when our children start to navigate their own waters, we are often triggered into our own insecurities and confusion. Thus we pass down the line of succession, emotional illiteracy. And this is in no way a slight against any parenting out there. The reality simply is that we do not speak about emotional literacy let alone give skills and education for how to go about it. Instead our inability to really name what is going on and what we are feeling manifests itself. For some it’s addiction and forms of numbing, for some its seeking intense thrills or pleasure or focusing solely on what isn’t going well, for me it came in the form of an eating disorder and a story of “I am not enough” for so many years.
So now in the reality that my child is facing what is surely the very beginning of her own emotional journey, I am called to step up, not to hers, but to my own. In those moments when things are riding high for her, the only thing I can ever do is stand clear in my own energetic and emotional state. I can only look to my own center of being, rather than try and have any control over hers. And by doing that, I give her at least a fighting chance that as she needs to discover her own landscape, she has a safe space in which to do so.
These last few days, even with all of the work I have already done, I have found myself thrown off center in these moments. One thing I have learned however is that this is not something for which to shame myself. This is simply an opening to go even further in strengthening my skills and healing within myself that which needs healing. It’s an opportunity to do the work of knowing and understanding myself better so that I may be able to hold a neutral space for my girl to get to know and understand herself, however that unfolds. This is what I am really doing in these practices. I am learning how to breathe with what is, to move through the discomfort with grace and to feel the potency of stillness, even in turbulent waters, so when anger, sadness, confusion, frustration show up, I have the skills to guide myself through them without doing harm to myself or anyone else, and most especially my child. It’s not easy work. But this kind of fluency with myself matters almost more than anything to me. Though my beautiful, incredible, powerful daughter holds the number one spot and in truth, that only strengthens my resolve to be as emotionally literate in myself as possible.
Finally, I would like to remind us all, that I am not special in this possibility. We all have the power to become fluent in the language of ourselves. We have to dig deep and mostly we have to be intentional in our learning. I invite and encourage you to find a teacher, not someone who will tell you about you, because that person doesn’t exist. If you come across someone who says that they have the answers for you, run the other way. But someone who will simply hold neutral space for you so that you may feel safe enough to explore the landscape of your emotional self, without judgement or shame. My offerings come in the form of One on One Coaching and the Monthly Meditation Circle right now. But whether you choose to walk this path with me or anyone else, my wish for you is to know the incredible love arises from doing this kind of work. All of the effort we have so long put in to suppressing and numbing our emotions, is equally met with a freedom and incredible love when we finally take a look inside. And just know, that I will be over here on my own journey, should you ever need to feel just a little less lonely in yours, becoming fluent in myself.
is a Mama, Wife, Teacher, Writer and Creator of One OM at a time. She has been teaching and studying yoga since 2008 and has taught at studios in Syracuse, Boston and New York City. For two years her hOMe was wherever she, her husband Justin, their daughter Audrey and pug Oscar find themselves as they traveled for Justin's job on the national tour of Matilda the Musical. This way of living has really taught Sara that yoga and mediation requires nothing more than some time and a space for your mat. You can find Sara teaching regular classes in NYC, workshops and retreats all over the country as well as in her very own online studio right here!