Today is Mother’s Day, which traditionally conjures images of breakfast-in-bed, flowers, and quirky, yet beloved hand-made crafts. For the fortunate, “mother” denotes nurturing, wisdom, and great big hugs; for those with less bonded relationships, the role may relate to feelings of abandonment, anger, or confusion.
Of course, any parent/child dynamic is fraught with complexity. Even those with “close” relationships may go through phases of distancing, frustration, and even dislike. And those who were not raised by their mother, or who have a mother incapable of showing love, may have created a true bond with a dear older friend. Regardless of the quality of the mother/child relationship, one thing stands certain: An element of care is required.
Whereas moms take the reins on caring as they raise their children, the roles often reverse when the child becomes an adult, and the mother moves further into old age. The role of caretaker shifts to the adult offspring, and the elderly parent may become almost childlike. Whether mother or child, young or old, one of the most crucial—and easy to neglect—aspects of healthy nurturing is self-care.
The mudra and pranayama described here focus on easing the various levels of stress that may accompany the act of caring for another person. When committed to caretaking, most of our energy flows outward, extended to the needs of our charge: This understandably results in depletion; however, we may not notice the energy-zap, as we are intensely focused on the tasks and person at hand. When the enervation finally hits, it may reveal itself as illness, physical pain, or emotional exhaustion.
To recharge your Lower Triangle—the First through Fourth chakras, which form our foundation of humanity—relax into your favorite seated, aligned position. As this practice emphasize self-nurturing, do not hesitate to prop yourself in whatever way feels best: Place your buttocks on the edge of a pillow; bolster your knees if you need to; and even grant yourself permission to sit with your back against the wall, or in a chair. Comfort is key!
Then, with closed eyes gazing at the Third Eye, place your hands in your lap, palms up; the fingertips on each hand do not touch, but come close. To inhale, curl your tongue as if to bring the tip to the back of the throat; keep the lips gently parted. Breathe in through this slightly open configuration, long and steady, to a count of 4. To exhale, close your mouth, and drop the tongue to the floor of the mouth: Breathe out slowly and evenly, to a count of 8.
When you inhale, raise your hands up to heart level. Exhale as your turn the palms to face down, and lower the hands to below the navel point. Continue inhaling and exhaling, raising and lowering the hands, for at least 3 minutes. If you can, stick with this rejuvenating breath and moving mudra for 5-11 minutes.
Next, touch your left thumb tip to the center of the right palm; rest the remaining left fingers on the back of the right hand. Allow your right fingers and thumb to relax, and place the mudra on your heart.
The pranayama of this portion of the practice helps to shed anxiety, sadness, and even anger. You may feel the tug of tears, or in increase of tension or frustration as you proceed through this meditation. Stick with it, for those are the very manifestations of emotion that will help you clear and rebalance your energy.
To inhale, breathe in long and deep through your nose; no count is necessary. Be aware of the expansion and lift of your chest as you breathe; focus on the feeling of the movement beneath your hands. To exhale, open your mouth into an “O” shape, and expel the air in a forceful, sounded burst; this is Cannon Breath. As you assertively expel your breath, press firmly on your heart with your hands. Continue this pranayama and heart-sensitizing mudra for 1-3 minutes.
Happy Mother’s Day Sunday…