I told my 4 & 2 year old daughters that I needed a time-out, so they needed to play quietly by themselves, while I tucked myself away securely in the small bathroom to enjoy a wee break from the stimulation overload of my house.
My 4 year old loves to decorate the house with her drawings, toys, everything she can find. She was inspired by Christmas and our house is covered in stars, trees, ornaments, hearts, rainbows. My 2 year old is exuberant. She needs to jump, sing, shout, dance, talk – a lot. This is all wonderful and age appropriate activity, I know. If they weren’t doing this, there would be reason for concern.
Maybe because of all this, I find myself drawn to the small bathroom throughout the day for some relief, in all senses of the word. It is quiet. There is no real decoration on the walls. There’s a place to sit. A door. I can tuck away to re-member myself for a bit; put me back together. My eyes, ears, and my brain calm down a little. There is no dirty laundry to be done and no clean laundry nagging me to be put away. The shower is never used, so that doesn’t need cleaning. (yes, I could clean the sink & the toilet, but it could also be ignored and we all survive, right?) I repeat; it’s quiet.
So, yesterday I was re-membering myself and finding my breath in the bathroom and read an email on my phone from a lovely woman in one of my classes. She shared that she is craving some more intentional quiet in her life and wondered if we could add more quiet meditation into our practice. I LOVED this idea and was so excited that she suggested it. As I was replying to her email my 2 year old started whispering (as only a two year old can whisper), again and again on the other side of the door, “mommy, I just pooped”. Bless her heart for whispering.
The meditation mantra of the month is PRATYAHARA; withdrawal of the senses. This is what I’m doing when I tuck myself away in the bathroom. This is what happens at the beginning of a yoga class when you draw your attention inward; follow your breath, ease your jaw, soften your shoulders. It’s a withdrawal of the senses from the loud, bright, and obvious external experience to the quiet, soft, and subtle internal experience. Pratyahara is an essential part of a yoga practice. It’s the bridge that connects the physical practice of yoga (asana) and meditation or prayer.
Asana is the physical practice of yoga and it literally means “seat for prayer”. So, our physical work of yoga is in order to ease up our body, and quiet our mind, so that we can rest and recover our spirit in mediation and prayer.
So, join us for one class or another. We are going to experiment more with the practice of pratyahara. It’s definitely a practice that we need to work at, just like practicing piano, writing, yoga, forgiveness, etc. Maybe find your quiet pratyahara space in your life too. Hopefully you have one already. If not, join us and have some quiet; inside and out, without having to lock a door.
peace on your head, you.