Our popular contributor Kara-Leah writes about all kinds of things, from home practice and parenting to the etiquettes of yoga class and the ethics of yoga. One of her specialities is the psychology of mastering yourself – something she learned through her home yoga practice.
This article, written in 2011, illustrates how it’s never our circumstances that cause either happiness or suffering, but our approach to our circumstances.
by Kara-Leah Grant
Life has been rich with opportunities to practice deep acceptance lately.
Samuel is now 17 months old, generally awake from 7am to 7pm, and active, even measured by toddler standards.
It’s impossible to work around him anymore, or write morning pages, or meditate, or practice asana.
These things were the mainstay of my waking hours – if I wasn’t on the computer, I was doing some form of yoga or writing.
In the last month, I’ve had to accept that this is just not the way my life is anymore.
Instead, I’ve had to reshape my time around Samuel. I guess this is what it means to be a mother ;)
I realised it was impossible to do what I’d always done – and there was some anger and frustration in the realising.
It came up, I felt it, and I let it go before settling into a space of openness to see what was possible with what I did have.
Such is the possibility of life with a regular spiritual practice.
Without that, this change and ending could have been a traumatic experience for me.
I could have felt unconscious or conscious resentment towards Samuel for preventing me from doing what I loved, and living my life my way.
I could have felt anger. Or got depressed. Or been upset.
But I haven’t.
My spiritual practice has helped make this change in my life an easy shift, and one filled with opportunities and hidden treasures.
I’ve discovered that with a small child, the activities that are possible – those that keep him engaged and learning and happy – are those of the traditional stay-at-home parent. (Fancy that eh?)
Samuel is quite happy to watch and help and play while I do housework, and while I cook and bake. He already loves washing dishes and will pull a chair over to stand on at the first sound of running water in the kitchen.
He loves going for walks in the pushchair. He loves going to the park, and on short drives or adventures to secondhand stores.
I’ve accepted that this is what my life is about now, and I’ve opened myself up whole-heartedly to embrace this new life – a way of living that has never been possible for me before. I’ve been damn good at resisting change, kicking and screaming all the way while throwing up struggle and strife for myself without even realising it.
This time is different. I know better now. I can sense resistance, I know it leads to suffering, and I’m doing my best to accept whatever is in front of me right now.
In doing so, all kinds of treasures have revealed themselves.
For a start, housework, cooking and baking can all be done to a high-energy dance playlist of Madonna, and they can all be done while dancing and singing.
Singing and dancing while cleaning, baking and cooking feels awesome, and leads to all sorts of blissful, joyful states of being that Samuel and I get to share.
It’s almost more fun than my years working as a Go Go dancer in Canadian nightclubs. Hell, it probably is better in many respects because I don’t have to dodge the drunks while dancing in my kitchen!
Plus having plenty of time to plan meals means I’ve got the time to get adventurous and creative in the kitchen.
Google has become an invaluable tool in working around missing ingredients, and has served up all kinds of fabulous recipes like butter-less cookies and crustless cabbage pie.
In the past month, I’ve baked bread a couple of times a week, taught myself how to make a curry from scratch, discovered the best ever apple crumble recipe and perfected the art of pumpkin, carrot and ginger soup.
I’ve even made playdoh, in five different colours.
Dare I say it, I’m having a whale of a time.
The curious and interesting thing is when I was growing up, I was hell-bent on being a career woman, and I vowed I’d never have children. It just wasn’t something I was interested in doing at all. The idea of being a single parent with a child living in the suburbs on the DPB was my idea of hell.
How wrong our ideas can be.
Instead of hell, I find myself experiencing more joy and delight on a daily basis than at any other period in my life.
Not because of what I’m doing… but because of the energy and intent I’m bringing to what I’m doing.
It’s a sense of;
OK, this is where I am, I whole-heartedly accept this place. Now what is here?
It’s an extraordinarily powerful way to live. Mostly because it makes me feel extraordinarily powerful because I’ve realised I’m the one in charge of my own joy and delight.
Not my circumstances.
Not other people.
Not the amount of money I have in the bank.
Not the job title I have.
None of that has any power over me anymore… and what freedom there is in that!
This time won’t last forever. Samuel will grow up. I’ll have time to write and work and practice yoga to my heart’s content.
Somehow, that just makes now all the more precious.
It’s all we ever have. Might as well accept it.
Let the treasures reveal themselves.
The opportunities arise.
So simple really.
Not easy though…
Kara-Leah is a writer and yoga teacher who has always been infinitely curious about the make-up of the human psyche and body. Regular yoga helped her heal and recover from chronic back issues, including a spinal fusion at age 16, and two episodes of psychosis at age 29.
Her daily home yoga practice began in earnest when people kept asking her to teach them yoga. She’s since trained as a teacher with Shiva Rea, and immersed herself in practicing, teaching yoga and writing about yoga. Kara-Leah lives just outside of Queenstown, New Zealand with her son Samuel.
She’s the publisher of The Yoga Lunchbox and published her first book, Forty Days of Yoga – Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice in 2013. Her second book, The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga, has just been released. She’s also a regular contributor to the Elephant Journal.