(This is a picture of Angry Penguin, Annie won him at the Alaska State Fair.)
I’m not a person who bounds out of bed in the morning bright eyed and ready to face the day. But, I do wake up early and am fairly disciplined about getting myself downstairs to my prayer and yoga space most days before the rest of my family is awake. It allows me to awaken mind, body and spirit and readies me to be a more centered and yes, even joyful person.
My children have not yet adopted any similar sort of spiritual practice. They roll out of the sack bleary eyed and grumpy, groping their way to the bathroom where not even a hot shower does much to improve their mood. Tim is 13 and though Annie is still only 11, they both act like teenagers and they can be quite short tempered by the time they make it down to the kitchen where I am innocently trying to enjoy my toast and egg and a cup of tea. For the past several mornings there has been door slamming, stomping and general head-biting-off. I’m shocked to find that a kid who had looked in the mirror twice in his whole life before he turned 13 now has bad hair days. On days like this my lovely yoga and prayer induced centeredness evaporates like spit on a hot griddle. I feel my open heart shrivel up and my gut tighten. My higher self gets shoved into the back seat and my ego comes out ready for a fight. In the face of these negative emotions I seem unable to hang on to what I want to be and how I want to feel. I have been pondering why this is so.
One reason is that I assume that the bad mood and grumpiness is about me or that it is directed at me. My children are purposely attacking me because they are angry at me. But, as I step back and look, I realize that it isn’t about me at all. They are simply tired, it is hard to get up and get motivated in the morning and so irritation just naturally erupts like a little mini volcano. It’s not really directed at anyone at all, but it will effect anyone who gets in the way. So, I would like to learn to get out of the way.
One of the ways I can do this is by ignoring it. I am NOT good at ignoring. Can you ignore a whining child? How about a barking dog? I wish that I could. I have had many opportunities to try. Unfortunately though, I just get more and more irritated. The answer for me is not to ignore, but to be mindful and aware. I need to sit and notice the energy, but I don’t have to take it on or into myself. I can remind myself that most of the time, this negative energy is not about me nor directed at me. When these episodes occur the resulting energy is not ignored, rather it is released. Believe me, this is much easier said than done and will take me lots of practice. It doesn’t come naturally to me, just like playing the piano doesn’t really come naturally to me, but I love the piano and I keep trying. I’ve never gotten Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata perfect, not even close. But it did get better and once in a while it even reached out and touched the beauty that I knew was possible in me.