Of course, I become a much grouchier person when I don't go to yoga. When I don't take time for myself. Even when I go to the Y, I know that my daughter is in Child Watch and that all hell could break loose at any moment (most often this happens in the form of an emergency diaper change requiring that I leave my class at once). And considering that I haven't been in weeks, and that I've been solo parenting on and off during that time, I admit, I have gotten grouchier than usual. For me, yoga is a spiritual practice that offers me peace, and reminds me, as Rumi says, to "visit myself," but it also helps me to get out of myself, to think outwards, to gain perspective. I love what Pema Chodron says about this:
For many, spiritual practice represents a way to relax and a way to access peace of mind. We want to feel calm, more focused; and with our frantic, stressful lives, who can blame us? Nevertheless, we have a responsibility to think bigger than that these days. If spiritual practice is relaxing, if it gives us some peace of mind, that's great-- but is this personal satisfaction helping us to address what's happening in the world? The main question is, are we living in a way that adds further aggression and self-centeredness to the mix, or are we adding some much needed sanity? (from Taking the Leap)In the interest of potentially adding needed sanity to the world, I finally decided to go, despite feeling tired, and when I arrived, I discovered that there was a sub for my usual teacher. Great, I thought. I sacrificed the time and money and it's not even my favorite teacher. I made my way into the room, unrolled my mat, and closed my eyes, feeling grumpier than ever.
I sat listening to my breath, and imagined what my regular teacher would say, about honoring the intention that brought you to class, about putting aside whatever you left to get to class and whatever you were going to have to return to after you left. I heard her voice suggesting that I let the breath breathe me. Slowly, the attitude melted away.
And the class was actually just what I needed. It wasn't my usual teacher's pace, or her humor, but it was gentle enough to allow me to be gentle to myself. I found myself grateful, in the end, that I'd gone, and that the sub was there after all. And I felt renewed, able to tackle the world again.
It reminded me of my pickup at the farm two weeks ago, when I was just starting to get over being sick. I didn't want to go; I almost called my neighbor to ask her to pick up my share for me. I knew I'd have to carry N. on my back, in the heat, and venture into the fields if I wanted tomatoes. I felt depleted, and wondered whether perhaps it would just be easier not to go.
But when I arrived, there were two curry dishes to sample, waiting inside the pickup space. Our farm always has one or two seasonal dishes to sample at pickup, using part of the week's share, along with the recipe. I've written here before about curry as one of my comfort foods, and it was as if they knew what I needed. I don't even eat white rice much anymore, that small flowered Dixie cup full of warm rice and coconut milk and squash and red curry was like a small miracle. It was the first real food I'd eaten in days. I was grateful, and I told them so. I know I was a better parent that night.
Sometimes it's hard to go where we need to go, or do what we need to do. We don't want to go to yoga. We don't want to write for the fifteen minutes we promised ourselves. We don't want to see that friend who has been nagging us. It's inconvenient. We're tired. We're grumpy. But sometimes the nourishment we need is waiting there.
Where do you go or what do you do to nourish yourself? Is it always easy to make that commitment? Do you find that this practice, or this space, is self-centered, or does it help you to add sanity to the world?
Red Curry with Summer Squash
This is slightly different from the previous red curry recipe I posted. You can still make your own curry paste, but I like the convenience of the bottled kind.
3 medium summer squash cubed (I also tossed in 3 small eggplant)
1 sweet onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic sliced
2 T. olive oil
2 T. red curry paste
2 c. coconut milk
1 T. fish sauce
1 T. brown sugar
Sweet (Thai) Basil
Sauté curry paste in olive oil 1 – 2 minutes to bring out flavor. Add 1 c. coconut milk; simmer 4 minutes. Add onion, garlic and squash. Cook until beginning to get tender. Add 1 1/2 c. coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar. Add salt to taste, remove from heat and add sweet basil May use other vegetables as well