Falling in Love with Reality


IMG_3141It’s one month today since the birth of my daughter, Rose Narayani Gallagher. One month since my birth as mother.

[Editors note: actually it was yesterday but the fact that I’m publishing this blog at all is an absolute miracle]

I finally understand why my teacher Sri Sakthi Amma describes Bhakti Yoga as the ideal path for this highly distracted, time-poor era of the Kali Yuga, and the perfect practice for the householder.

It’s true. There really is just 10mins per day, if that, to light a lamp and place a flower and wave some incense about. Often without chanting aloud, like today, just in case I woke up Rosie, asleep at last in her ‘happy hanger’ hammock just a few metres away. It had taken me almost half an hour of intermittent bouncing to settle her there, knowing she could wake again at any moment, as soon as she sensed the absence of a heartbeat nearby.

Our child is a snuggler. She’ll sleep happily for hours, so long as she’s in my arms or on David’s chest, all the better if there’s a nipple in her mouth. And so she should be, just one month out from the warm, dark, drip-fed bliss of the womb.

But it’s full on. My hands-free time is unbelievably precious and action-packed. I’ve never made such good use of every minute. So much so that yesterday I hit a bit of a wall.

For the first time since Rosie’s birth I tried to deal with some domestic admin, aka finalise my government-funded Maternity Leave Pay, which turned out to be an utterly inefficient run-around from one department and call centre to the next, achieving nothing. And while frustrating at any time, it wouldn’t usually be enough to bring me to tears, as it did yesterday. I bit my lip and held it together enough to get through the phone call (42minutes!), but as soon as I hung up I started to cry.

Good tears. Humbling tears. Liberating tears. After which I lay down with my beautiful daughter, who’d been half-asleep on my boob throughout, and we crashed out together on the couch for a good hour. The last thing I saw through my teary tired eyes before I closed them was the vase of half-dead lilies on the coffee table in front of me. “Fuck it”, I thought,”they can wait”.

And they did wait. But not for long. The very next morning time and space opened up again and in the gorgeous Autumn morning light I picked some fresh flowers. Rosie slept on her own long enough that I even managed to start this blog. It’s now 2 days later, of course, and this is all I need to say I think to close up.

That it’s all about the moments. Life is lived in bite-sized chunks.

I’ve never appreciated that fact so very much. I’ve never stepped up and showed up so completely, 24 hours a day, every day, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

My favourite definition of bhakti is this: ‘the simple and direct alignment of the heart to God’. And what is God if not Reality? If not Love? The Love of Reality. The Reality of Love.

And that is why it’s such a perfect practice for the householder, because actually it has very little to do with altars, and mantras, and gurus and whatever other external forms it uses to awaken us to the simple & ever-present Reality of Love.

So this is my practice now. At 2:30am breastfeeding in the dark; at 6:30pm in the ‘witching hour’ of windy tummy & over-tired squirming; in the blissful quiet of the forest where I live, walking with my precious cargo snoozing soundly in the hug-a-bub; in the shower, alone, relishing the sensation of hot water streaming down my back, washing off the day or night just passed.

Whenever, whatever, just being with all this. Letting it melt the ‘me’ so that all that remains is Love and a life in service to that.

Om Namo Narayani

“Let my idle chatter be the muttering of prayer, my every manual movement the execution of ritual gesture, my walking a ceremonial circumambulation, my eating and other acts the rite of sacrifice, my lying down prostration in worship, my every pleasure enjoyed with dedication of myself, let whatever activity is mine be some form of worship of you.”  ~ Adi Shankaracharya