My latest post is on Elephant Journal. Read it here.

And to sign up to the next 30-day online meditation journey, starting on the New Moon of OCTOBER 28. GO HERE

At the close of a rich, rewarding month facilitating a 30-day online journey into meditation as a daily practice, this fundamental truth has never been more clear: There’s no way through but through.

Envisioning ourselves as daily meditators, we often project (hope like hell) that we’ll all of a sudden become peaceful, calm, and happy.

We think we’ll like ourselves and others more, because finally we’ll be getting it right. We’ll be the person we always wanted to be. The ugly bits will all just go away, and at last we’ll be worthy of love (our own, first and foremost).

For most, what actually happens is this:

Our commitment to being with ourselves more intimately and consistently brings us up close and much more personal with all of the stuff we were hoping to get rid of. Sometimes this happens during our actual meditation practice, but often it happens after, when we return to our life, work, kids, bills, and relationships.

By contrast to the inherent peace and spaciousness that we’ve remembered through our practice, our anger, impatience, fear, and doubt come as a less-than-welcome shock when they return.

But the very human fact is that they do return. Unfortunately, these pesky, contracted human emotions are part of the package.

We don’t get rid of anything.

But wait, it’s not all bad news. In owning that stuff—stopping the pretense that we don’t actually have any of it, projecting it onto others, blaming situations, or thinking ourselves bad and terrible people for feeling it—we start to get curious.

We ask good questions (“Is it true?” for example). We get really good at letting go of any thought that feels like tension (our body’s way of telling us that we’re believing a lie).

And when we can’t, we practice mercy (thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert, for your recent enlightened use of this wonderful word). We give ourselves a break. Until we find the eyes to see more clearly, we practice forgiveness, gentleness, and compassion for our own shortcomings. We stay on our own team.

But most of all, what we learn to do is choose.

Because the sh*t still comes up. As long as we have a body and karma to clear, we’ll keep finding ourselves in ever new and wonderful situations perfectly scripted to keep on showing us where we’re still a little tight.

The self-doubt/critical/I’m-such-a-loser/nobody-really-loves-me tape might still roll for a bit. We feel our forehead start to crinkle and our shoulders slump.

But then, because we have all this awareness because we’ve been meditating every goddamn day, we notice really quickly when something’s off.

We go, “Hang on! This is just that self-doubt tape!! This right here. I see you! And these things I’m thinking about are not even happening now! Oh my God. This track completely sucks. It always makes me feel like crap. I’m gonna skip it!”

And just like that, we shut it down. We turn it off. We choose a happier tune.

And the next time, and the next.

Might not sound like much—but I’ll tell you that when it happens, it’s nothing short of a miracle.

And that is how we become that peaceful, calm, and happy person we always wanted to be. One choice at a time.

Not by reading about it, or wishing for it, or pretending to be. But by staying alert and very, very curious to what trips us up. Taking each new opportunity as a chance to lighten up.

Through every trigger, every unique scenario, every sh*tstorm of stressful beliefs, disbelieving the lot as we go.

We find the willingness to inquire like water on a fire, our humour and tenderness a salve to any burns we might acquire along the way.

Om Namo Narayani

Next 30-day online meditation adventure starts on the New Moon of OCTOBER 28. Go here for more info & to register

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“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; it’s choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them” ~ Brene Brown.

I love this idea. Less so the thought of having to actually do something uncomfortable.

With any new habit or project, beginning is often the hardest part. The cranky old bear of inertia lurking deep inside most of us, gets dangerously upset at the thought of change.

I both love and hate beginnings.

I love the newness, the possibility, the rush of energy that accompanies the starting gun. As a kid I was always first out from the blocks, loving the feeling of space as I charged ahead of the pack.

Less fun of course is the letting go. The discomfort we agree to in signing up for the test.

The pang of desire as we pass along the sourdough when we’ve resolved to go gluten-free. The sting of tired muscles on our first morning run. A crazy, racing mind in our first-in-many-months meditation. The fear of overwhelm or judgement with any creative endeavour, not to mention the scariest beast of them all – the possibility of failure.

I hear Ben Lee singing: “…not beginning is the only way to fail”. Yes Ben, yes.

I’ve done plenty of hiding, don’t worry. And still do. Often I don’t even realise that that’s what I’m doing, fooled instead by the voices in my head that will do anything to keep me safe (and asleep).

But the price is quite simply too high.

There’s peace, but it’s dull. Time drags and resentment breeds.

Have you ever noticed that when you’re “going through the motions” time seems on tranquilizers but once absorbed in your joy or passion it either bends to infinity or races like a mother. There’s never enough time to do the things you love doing, while the mundane chores seem to drag on for-ev-aaaaaah.

To quote Nathaniel Hawthorne: “Happiness is not found in things you possess, but in what you have the courage to release.”

At the heart of all this, as usual, is Love.

Love knows that you are already more than enough. That there’s nothing to improve upon. And also that you are here in this adventure called Life, in this playground called Earth, full of opposites and contradictions and paradoxes and shit to learn.

We approach new experiences as an opportunity for growth. Brene Brown again: “Healthy striving is self-focused:  ‘How can I improve?’ Perfectionism is other-focused:  ‘What will they think?’”

Truly, personally, revolutionary change has nothing to do with what they’ll think, and everything to do with how you feel. You’ll know it’s coming from the right place when you really want to do it, even though it’s hard. Heart, mind, body & Soul agree.

If a thought feels stressful, then it is. Good ideas arise like a gift from Source, packaged in a rush of energy, and excitement, and… yep, quite likely a wee shot of fear.

I like to welcome this fear as an excellent sign that I’m far enough outside my comfort zone as to be doing something worthwhile.

Fear worries. Love says, “Fuck it. What’s there to lose?” (a really good question). “I’m gonna take a chance on feeling fully alive and engaged”.

If that means getting out of bed a bit earlier to sit still on a cushion and get my head straight each morning, then I’m willing.

Rolling out my mat cos it literally breathes life into my body, my heart, my family. Yes please, three times/week.

Setting my alarm for 5am because the only time I have to write is before my kid/s wake up.

None of these things because we think we should, but because WE KNOW WE MUST if we are to really live, on our own terms, doing the things that light us up.

Hiding from discomfort and failure is a perfectly valid way to live. You will not be alone in doing so.  And there are times I believe that staying safe is exactly what you need to do. Times of grieving or recovery are challenging enough without the need to add yet more intensity.

But when it’s truly time to make a shift, you’ll know it. Ideas will start to niggle. Images will land. You’ll feel a bit impatient… uncomfortable inside your own skin because, quite frankly, you’ve outgrown it.

It’s time to shed.

Welcome xx

My 30-day Online Meditation course, DIVE IN RISE UP, starts July 1! Go here for more info & how to join. REGISTRATION NOW OPEN!


Om Namo Narayani

Do you ever get the feeling that you’re pushing shit uphill? That even though you really really love the thing you do you’re doing it so damn often that you’re exhausted?

Your bones are heavy and your brain is tired. Inspiration wanes the more you try to entice it.

Enter The Law of Reversed Effort. One of those rare little gems that actually make a lot of sense, it says that the harder we work at something the less effective we are.


The more we reach for something, the harder we try and push, the more we reinforce the ways that we are deficient in that thing.


Honey for God’s sake would you take a load off? Go and watch a movie. Have a laugh. Your Life’s Work will still be here when you get back.

Too much effort creates a state of stress which, ironically, is the exact opposite feeling state that most of us are trying to achieve through all of our hard work.

An example:

I want to make more money for the sense of freedom that I hope it will afford me. But instead I work my arse off, estranging myself from my family whilst worrying myself to sleep almost every night. The more I focus on my goal of future freedom the more worry & stress I have in the here and now.

Or I’m feeling overwhelmed by clutter so really want to move. I’m imagining the spaciousness and lightness of my shiny new home. I focus and fixate and stress about that goal, spending all my spare time scrolling realestate.com instead of clearing out the clutter that might afford me a little more spaciousness in my current situation.

This doesn’t mean that we abandon our goals. Of course not. It’s in our nature to want to grow and expand and evolve. But we absolutely do not need to do so from an habitual state of stress.

Sociologist, Author & Lifecoach Martha Beck says it like this: “Circumstances do not create feeling states. Rather feeling states create circumstances”.

It took me a while to really get what she meant. But the more that I do I see that it’s profound. A profound turning on its head of the way that our culture teaches us to push and struggle and stress and strive, overriding our feelings, our bodies, & our instincts until we get the thing we want.

But what if we forgot for a minute about the things we think we want and focused on the feeling states instead? Is it the car that I want or the feeling that I think it will give me? Is it the house? The lover? The child? The dress? The acknowledgement? The holiday? Or is it rather the feeling states that I’ve connected to those things?

If so, then let’s be a little smarter (and kinder) about this.

Let’s find the feeling state. Call it up. Interestingly, if we can feel the feeling that we’re hoping for in future, right here & now when we imagine having that thing, then what does that tell us about that feeling?

That’s it’s already within us that’s what.

With nothing more than a thought we can connect to the very joy, freedom, spaciousness, clarity, aliveness, or peace that we long for but have made dependent on the acquisition of this or that, a change in our circumstances.

And guess what else? When we connect with all of the above, when we’re sitting in peace, ease, trust, and joy then we become like little magnets for the things we want. They simply can’t resist us.

It doesn’t mean they’re gonna fall out of the sky all of a sudden, they’ll be given in due course if & when they are meant for us.

And of course we’re still going to need to take action. Absolutely. But we’ll do what we know we need to do without stress or anxiety. And we’ll also know when to take a break.

For the longest time I’ve been using every available minute of my spare time to keep Getting Things Done. But the list just kept on growing alongside my deep sense of overwhelm & fatigue.

Finally, last Friday, I said, “Fuck it. Tonight I’m gonna watch a movie, the dumber the better”.

And so I did. I watched ‘Bridget Jones’ Baby’ and it was absolutely awful, I do not recommend. But it was absolutely perfect because I just relaxed. I let go. I drank my tea and forgot about everything which is exactly what I needed to do.

And you know what happened next?

At the end of the movie I closed down Netflix and had a quick peek at my emails before going to bed.

I couldn’t believe it. There was a reply from someone I’d been waiting to hear back from for ages, 3 new bookings for retreats, and about 5 other mails that were super prompt, positive responses about workshops and other projects.

It could’ve been coincidental.  But it didn’t feel that way, and I chose not to interpret it that way either. I took it as a clear Sign from Life that I might get a whole lot more done if I rested more.

young-woman-watching-movie_sge7gh“See,” said Life. “The world still turns while you’re resting. It turns more easily in fact cos you’re not holding on so tight. Let go a little. Have some fun. I’ve got this”.

Om Namo Narayani


Love or Fear


pexels-photo-355401If only, in some of our darkest hours, we could see what hindsight almost always reveals.

That it was in this darkness precisely, this death of sorts; this not knowing who, what, where, when, or why, that our new life was born.

If only the caterpillar knew what the butterfly does.

But it seems that there are no shortcuts, only ways of making it easier on ourselves.

Our culture values measurable results, productivity, clarity and drive.

But anyone who’s ever had any kind of meltdown; health or identity crisis; or suffered the loss of a person, pet, home, job, relationship, freedom, or anything else, knows that in these moments, weeks, months or years about the only thing you can manage is the thing you happen to be doing.

One meal; one nappy change; one doctor’s appointment; one conversation at a time.

The hardest and most important thing that we could ever possibly do at these times is to let the melting down complete itself. To hunker down, put on the kettle, and let the world carry on without us for a while.

That’s how I felt in the year after my daughter was born.

Just keeping her fed, clean, dressed, and alive, as well as the odd meal for my partner and I, was more than enough.

And yet I worried that I was losing my business, having no desire whatsoever to hold a workshop, run a retreat, or post on Facebook (other than lots of cute pictures of my kid).

I feared I’d lost my momentum, my reputation, my audience, my online presence (ha!), not to mention every ounce of creativity, inspiration, and passion that I had ever had.

But I went with it. Mostly. I really didn’t have much choice.

And then, slowly but surely, some gaps opened up. I could sneak out to a Yoga class now and again (and wanted to). I managed to complete the odd blog. I joined an online course full of other women and mothers longing to respond with love and a big fat YES to the calling of their Soul.

Very slowly, but very surely, my Way became a little more clear.

A cosmic trail of Internet breadcrumbs led me to a Life Coach training at 1 o’clock in the morning. I signed up. I pulled money from every nook and cranny in every possible bank account to pay for it, without an ounce of fear. Because I could feel it. My Way was becoming clear.

I now work with women. Women preparing for birth in my Prenatal Yoga classes. Women experiencing all sorts of transitions (new motherhood, relationship & career changes, menopause, kids leaving home) on my Yoga Retreats & in my coaching practice.

Women tired of beating themselves up with harsh inner dialogues. Women with an inkling that they’re here to love and serve. Women waking up to see the falsity of their limiting beliefs, knowing themselves rather as the Witness of those, who always has a choice. Love or Fear.

Love or Fear.

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved to hear the stories of people who were at one time stuck, or lost, suffering, or confused, with no idea what to do next. But who let themselves be changed by the experience – literally undone and then put back together again as a new, improved version.

In a culture collectively terrified of death, this waiting takes great courage. It’s rarely comfortable, but it’s how we grow. Evolution demands that a lesser form make way.

So if this is you? If you’re quietly melting down and you’ve no idea what’s next?

Hang tight.

No fast moves.

You’re most definitely not alone even when you feel that way.

Breathe. Trust. Be kind to yourself.

You’re exactly where you need to be.

In the dark of this cocoon your new wings are already growing. And although you can’t see them yet they are beautiful.

Om Namo Narayani

“Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” ~ Albert Einstein

So I’m listening to an audio for my Life Coach Training, when a light goes on inside me.

I have a realisation:

I do not need to have my shit perfectly together, nor keep it that way, to be a good, credible, and trustworthy teacher/coach/parent.

As long as… and here’s the catch… and it’s a really important one… as long as I’m actually doing the deep, honest and beautiful work of questioning my thoughts, excavating old beliefs, and allowing the accompanying emotions to flow freely through my body, could it even be that maybe,
just maybe, the degree to which I’m willing to fall apart, as regularly as needed, is exactly what makes me a good, credible and trustworthy teacher/coach/parent in the first place.

Holy shit I just turned this thing on its head. It’s almost the direct opposite of what our culture leads us to believe.

It’s the new feminine paradigm in a nutshell.

(Feminine in this case being less about gender, and more about the kind of operating system you’re running).

The old days of teachers on a pedestal, holier than thou, have proven ineffective at least, dangerous at worst, and so the peeps are taking their power back.


These are what we crave. These are what touch us, rouse us, and strengthen our resolve to keep honing these qualities in ourselves.

A side note here though: Deciding to do a Facebook ‘live’ or any other kind of public rant whilst deep in the grip of your emotional shiz is not the kind of transparency that I’m talking about. I see it often and it makes me feel icky, like vulnerability misunderstood. It’s a very fine line.

When you’re feeling it… like really feeling it… when the emotions are strong, then by all means let it flow. You must. Sit in that fire and do not budge until it melts away all that is false. But it’s YOUR attention you really need in that moment, not mine.

So go deep. Expose those fraudsters hiding out in your mind & heart. And then yes please get your arse back up online if that’s what you’re called to do, and share with us the fruits of your experience. Shout your newfound wisdom from the rooftops. We need to hear it. It unites us. It reminds us that we’re not alone.

As a teacher, artist, coach, parent, indeed, as a human being, I think the most important thing we can bring to our work is honesty, and an ongoing commitment to our own growth, in whatever form that takes. Because we can only ever really share with others, or hear in others, that which we’ve seen inside ourselves.

Experience speaks, it has energy behind it, even if the getting of that experience was a messy, muddy, snotty process. All the more so in fact.

And so this is freeing huh? We do not need to be perfect to be of value.

I like that so much I’m going to say it again, in bold this time:


We just need to be real.

And in the words of one of my dear friends and teachers, to live the truth that we understand.

The wisdom, clear seeing, fierceness, and deep trust that our teachers possess, are as readily available to us. Unearthed over time with patience and devotion, they are born of our willingness to expose ourselves to life, be available to change, answerable to ourselves above all, and to sit, repeatedly, in the fire of our own discomfort until the burning gives way to peace.

Om Namo Narayani

authenticity-keep-it-real“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” 

~ Brene Brown

the motherI’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Maiden, Mother, Crone thing, in particular the transition from Maiden to Mother.

What causes the shift? And how is it measured? Cos I can straight away think of some dear female friends who feel like mothers, who don’t actually have any children. And I know many a 40+ maiden.

So what causes the shift, besides age & offspring? What changes a woman from MAIDEN to MOTHER & marks her arrival there?

From what I can see it’s a deep & lasting change of tack, a re-orientation from self to other-centredness, over a sustained period of time.

And that’s not to say that as mothers we don’t take care of ourselves. Of course we do! But we care for ourselves because we see so very clearly that when we do, we can be so much more for others. When our cups overflow we inevitably nourish the soil of wherever we choose to stand.

EVERYBODY benefits from our authentic happiness!

Because as mothers we are the CENTRE, of our families, or businesses, charities or schools. People are depending on us.

Becoming THE MOTHER, I believe, is about finding yourself RESPONSIBLE. Reeeaaalllly responsible… more than you’d like to be sometimes, for something or someone beyond yourself.

Your child, your pet/s, your long-term committed relationship, your business, your art, or your cause.

Something that you must tend to each & every day, and that would struggle to survive without your presence & care.

Something that you must consider first, before making any other decision about what you do with your time & energy.

Something for which you must at times sacrifice your own desires.

Something that asks you to GROW, to stretch further & wider than ever before, and in so doing touch places and spaces and worlds within and without that you’d never dreamed of doing before. That you never imagined possible. Or simply never knew existed.

Becoming a mother later in life, I had what might be called an extended maidenhood.

I gave it my all.

I had a brown Holden Kingswood station wagon with aboriginal mural painted down the sides & a dream catcher hanging from the rearview mirror. A couple of Hiace vans decked out with bed & cooker. A good ten years with no fixed address.

I traveled.
I partied.
I studied.
I cleansed.
I had loads of solitary time.
A rich & full spiritual life.
Beautiful friends all over the world.
I loved my work.

So what was missing?

The word that comes is ACCOUNTABILITY.

I needed someone for whom to dig a bit deeper. I needed someone for whom to grow, and share. And share, and grow. (And no that’s not a typo, it just really feels worth repeating).

I didn’t have a child because I longed for family life. Christmas trees & kitchen renovations bore the absolute shit out of me, truth be told.

(Go you if you love these things. I wish I did sometimes…)

I didn’t actually really know why I wanted to have a child, only that I did, somewhere deep down in a place I’d rarely visit.

It didn’t make much sense, but it’s starting to.

It’s THE WILL TO GROW that sends us on some of our craziest adventures.

The adventure that starts when satisfying yourself is no longer enough.

And so here I am, finding myself pushed in all sorts of new & wonderful ways. To find my voice and speak it. To trust that what feels important to me is worth pursuing with all my heart. And to seek out & talk to all of you out there who feel something similar.

The mamas who love their kids (in whatever form they take) like CRAAAAAZZZZY, but don’t love all the stereotypes of motherhood.

Women whose wombs have never borne a child but who nurture and care and protect and advocate on a daily basis for something they deem as precious.

Women like you who have shit to say, passions to unearth, and a whole lotta love & wisdom to share with this beautiful world.

Loving you lady.

Expect to hear more xxx

Om Namo Narayani

“When sleeping women wake, mountains move” ~ Chinese proverb

images-2So lately I’ve been going to classes (once a week if I’m lucky) instead of the luxuriously unhurried home Yoga practice that I used to do, before there was a toddler in the house.

It’s been interesting… a bit scary even.

When you’re feeling raw – a mix of gratitude, deep exhaustion, overwhelm, and mad crazy love, as I often am these days, walking into a room of 30-40 people with the intention to connect with the deepest, most tender parts of yourself can be pretty confronting. It is for me at least, and probably why I’ve always loved to practice alone.

Just making it out of the house these days is huge.

What a strange, wonderful feeling to wave goodbye to my partner and baby and drive off all by myself. I’m often not more than 100m down the road before the tears begin to well.

What they’re about exactly is always hard to say. A little bit of everything. The antidote to all those times that I just had to suck it up.

I can almost hear a hiss as the pressure inside me releases.

I know, I know. I shouldn’t be sucking anything up. What about my psoas? But you know as a mama there are just so many times when you really can’t take a break. You can’t actually just drop down for a quick ‘legs up the wall’ or a 10-minute ‘i-rest’ when you feel the need. Until you get a breather you’ve just gotta suck it up.

And that takes its toll. For sure.

So when I know I’m heading to Yoga, i.e. a place where I can let it all unravel, the unraveling begins as soon as I leave the house. And so by the time I get to the studio and chat with the teacher as I register, it takes just one kind word from her, a simple ‘how have you been?’, and the floodgates open.

I could cry and cry and cry.

But she’s got a class to teach, starting in 5 minutes, and there’s 7 people behind me waiting to pay.

It’s not the time.

So I slink on over to my spot in the back row, stretch out my tired legs in my faded old Yoga daks that barely stay up, and feel pretty bloody old to tell you the truth.

There’s not nearly enough space between me and the next mat. I’m tempted to split. To go and have a coffee and some quiet time with a book or my notepad.

Of course I don’t. I stay and I breathe and I move and I just let it all be. I watch my thoughts and let them be. At times I feel my power, and I let it be. I sense my edges and I let them be. I hear my judgments, let them be. I feel myself judged and I let that be too.

I see the falsity of all of it. Who I thought I was. Who I think I am now. Who I thought others thought I was. What others might be thinking of me now.

None of it true.

I remember how easy it was to assume things, when the tables were turned, and I was the teacher cruising around the room listening to bodies. I thought I knew so much about people. I see now that while some of those assumptions might have been right, there’s always more to another’s story than I will ever know.

I also remember how easy it was, as the teacher, to just love. To see right through the layers to the essence, the earnestness, the fragility, the beauty.

And I see how much harder it is now, as the student, to receive that love, when I’m feeling so broken in so many ways.

I’m not used to being here. My mind races with strategies to turn the tables again.

In my heart though there is patience. I feel like the mother of a teenager who’s “going through a phase”. She knows she’s not looking at her daughter’s best self, but she loves her anyway.

I’m also that teenager. Unable to really express just what it is that I’m going through. Withdrawing a little from the love of those who might like to set me straight. Rebelling against structures, both internal and external, that feel forced or inauthentic.

It’s not entirely comfortable, but it’s beautiful, this breaking down.

And just as I love my daughter with my whole heart & Soul, whether she’s crying and biting or being funny and cute, that love is transforming the way I love myself.

I roll out of savasana and bring my hands to prayer,

Thank you Mother for these challenges. I’m learning to trust, even when I don’t understand.

I know now that You love me, no matter what.
By Your grace, may I heal all the places within where I still cannot love myself.

Om Namo Narayani

“The most difficult part of birth is the first year afterwards.  It is the year of travail – when the soul of a woman must birth the mother inside her.  The emotional labor pains of becoming a mother are far greater than the physical pangs of birth; these are the growing surges of your heart as it pushes out selfishness and fear and makes room for sacrifice and love.  It is a private and silent birth of the soul, but it is no less holy than the event of childbirth, perhaps it is even more sacred.”     ~ Joy Kusek, mother, doula, birth educator.

ps. Quote is an excerpt from a beautiful post, Making Room For Love, that is so worth reading. Mamas… I dare you to finish it with dry eyes. I certainly didn’t. xx

Rosei & mama b&wTales of a Traveling Yogini no longer feels apt. On my second lunarversary of motherhood I’m thinking to strike a line through that blog title and replace it with Profound Spiritual Teachings from a Teeny Tiny Guru. Watch this space. Meanwhile, Chapter One is about containment. And it starts with a little story…

When my daughter Rosie, now 2 months, was just 3 weeks old, I got a visit from our local Child & Family Health Nurse. She weighed & measured Rosie and then we sat down to talk about how it was all going. Rosie had been really engaged with her during this time, making eye contact and ‘talking’ in the way that babies do, but then pretty quickly she was grizzly and unsettled.

I went to put her on my boob so I could concentrate, but Helen the visiting nurse very gently suggested that maybe she wasn’t hungry, or windy, but that maybe she was getting tired.

Most little babies need some help to go to sleep, and if accidentally or otherwise overstimulated at that time will very quickly get ratty and upset, often flailing their little arms about and kicking their legs, fighting against the very thing they need most.

Helen asked me had I been swaddling Rosie? I said not really, that I didn’t think she liked having her arms restricted like that. She asked me to bring her a big muslin cloth, and then wrapped her up as snug as can be with her arms tucked in, and handed her back, telling me to hold her quite firmly to my chest, and sing or sway as I normally would when trying to get her to sleep.

She wriggled and squirmed, and fought against the restriction, but, soon after, she fell fast asleep. It worked.

I noticed something that day about the child in myself, the child in all of us. A lightbulb went on. As I learned how to better parent my daughter I learned how to better parent myself. I noticed these three things:

1) A child needs containment.
2) They probably won’t like it at first.
3) Creating that container for them is an act of love.

As Rosie flapped and flailed against the bliss of sleep, I saw myself and how much energy I too have wasted in flapping & flailing against the things that are truly good for me.

I might have outgrown my swaddle, but, as with most adults, there are parts of my emotional self that are still quite immature. I want what I want and I want it now, and I fight against anything that appears to restrict that. Blinded by my attachments sometimes I fail to see the bigger picture, and the deeper happiness that trust and surrender bring.

I often hear myself saying, “Just trust me Rosie, trust Mum” because I know that actually I do know better. It’s so obvious that she’s exhausted and will be so much happier after a good sleep. But I have to laugh at the irony of that because trusting was never my strong point.

Rarely did I trust my own mother. I was the kid who stuck the knife in the toaster just to see if what they said was true.

It was.

And now here I am on this thing we call the Spiritual Path. A kind of swaddle suit for grown ups, it’s all about restriction (as well as joy and bliss and happiness). The very fact that there’s a path at all implies that if you wander off then you might just fall into a great big hole. Like the Good Parent, it’s there for our safety, the safety of our Soul.

Parenting is my Spiritual Path these days, and it seems it’s all about restriction too (as well as joy and bliss and happiness). When I feel like moving I’m forced to be still, pinned to the couch by a teeny tiny being with an insatiable thirst for breast milk. Then when I’m longing to be still, or at the very least to sit down, she demands that I walk, and bounce, and sing, for hours on end sometimes in the elusive quest for deep sleep.

My freedom no longer lies in being able to do what I want, but in choosing to want to do what I’m actually doing.

And it seems that not being able to do what I want is making me a better person. It’s saving me from myself.

By grace, I have now become the Parent, the Authority Figure, the Teacher, and the Container that I so often resisted. But because I know what’s in my heart then I also know the extraordinary love that lies behind the seemingly mean holding in of flailing arms, the avoidance of eye contact when she wants to flirt instead of sleep, and soon no doubt the ‘no’s’ that I’ll say when she wants a third bowl of icecream.

The love of a mother knows no bounds, and so my Divine Mother must love me like that too. Even when She seems cruel at first, it’s only and ever Love that saves us from the worst in ourselves.

Om Namo Narayani

“God be with the mother. As she carried her child may she carry her soul. As her child was born, may she give birth and life and form to her own, higher truth. As she nourished and protected her child, may she nourish and protect her inner life and her independence. For her soul shall be her most painful birth, her most difficult child, and the dearest sister to her other children. Amen.”         ~ Michael Leunig

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