A month has passed since I returned home from India. I’ve been telling my clients and my students that there were so many wonderful things I learned there that it is hard to focus on any one lesson in particular. However, I think a couple of weeks ago one came to life for me.
I was teaching my restorative yoga therapeutics training and the last day of the training I dropped off one of my sons at the Albany airport for his trip back to the University of Tulsa (quite a distance from NY). I was on my way to teach my last day when I received a call from him saying his flight was Saturday, not Sunday and that there are no flights out to be found. I had a flood of guilt (how could I have not known this?), blame (how did he not know this? How come my husband didn’t take care of this?) and criticism (what kind of mother am I?) all flooding in at once. Panicked, I pulled over on the highway and began to search Expedia for flights. My husband, working at the time, stopped seeing patients and we all, from separate locations, attempted to search for a way to get him back to campus on time for classes the next day. Again nothing found. I had a room full of teachers excited to finish-up their training and I had to re-group and concentrate but I didn’t know how.
It was in that moment that I remembered the words our guide Shantum told us about practice. In Buddhism we call the teachings of the Dharma and meditation practice a refuge. The definition of refuge is, a safety, security, and stability when things feel unsafe and unstable. He reminded us of an old rickety bridge we crossed that was open on one side while on the other was a fence. He said remember when you walked over the bridge you walked a little closer to the fence? Well the practice is like that fence. It is there to turn to for support. It is there to lean into when you need to cross to the other side.
In that moment I remembered what my refuge is and I turned to my practice. I closed my eyes and felt my breath, and took a few minutes of silence. I surrendered to the moment and witnessed how dropping in allowed me to let go of my guilt, blame, and critical thoughts. I was able to replace them with compassion and gratitude instead. They sounded like this:
I did not check his flight because I have been very busy since I’ve returned from my trip and I was allowing him the responsibility of this.
He didn’t check because he is a 20-year-old off on spring break and let go of responsibilities for the week.
And my husband, (who by the way left work as soon as possible and drove him back to Oklahoma through the night so he could make it to class on time and then drove home!) was also exhausted from working.
I know I am a great mom and maybe I unconsciously wanted to keep him home with me just one more day. 🙂
This 5 minute meditation was a moment of refuge and gave me the space needed to replace the critical thoughts with thoughts of compassion and allowed me to step back into the room with my students (even if an hour late), be present, and show up for them the rest of the day.
Life will happen. Stress will happen. Learning to lean into the safety is what is most important. Ask yourself the following questions to build your refuge:
1) When do I feel most safe and secure?
2) What do I turn to when I am stressed?
4) What helps me to ground and regroup?
3) How do I find refuge?