During my yoga and meditation this morning, I worked with chanting for the first time. I started small, just simply chanting "om," giving the 'oh' and the 'mm' sounds longer stresses than the other, alternatively. It felt a little strange at first, and then, after I stopped caring what people would think if they saw me, it was very grounding. Focusing on the vibrations the sound made throughout my body and just being in that moment was one of the most authentic experiences I've had in toying with open, thoughtless meditation.
In the beginning of many yoga classes, the instructor tells you to set an intention for your practice. This is usually supposed to be the time that you dedicate you practice to someone you love, someone you've been thinking about or worrying about, to an international tragedy, to something you're struggling with internally, to the power of letting go or just to something simple like happiness, love, peace and joy.
Today I dedicated my practice to something pretty unique. I'm going to be babysitting my 2- and 4-year-old cousins this afternoon, into the evening, putting them to bed, waking up with them at 6am, serving them breakfast and playing until my aunt and uncle return from their romantic night away. I am a nervous mess about this. The children are wonderful, but they're also children, little tiny children who are just learning to lie and sass. You would think that because of working at a school, I would have no qualms about this. However, at school, when a child becomes too much to handle, I just radio the principle or the teacher and they swoop in. I have extreme reservations about using any sort of physical force or loud voices with children. I scare myself when I do those things. But, sometimes, taking a child by the hand and walking them to their room (after you've already asked them more than once) and using a firm voice, is what they need. For some reason, this action gives me the heebie jeebies.
So, during my outdoor meditation today, I dedicated my practice to letting go of this fear and to opening my heart to caring for these children with all the love they're capable of giving back. I asked for guidance and patience in the harder moments if they get fussy. I requested that even when they're being difficult that I do all that I'm doing to discipline them with as much love as if we were sitting on the couch reading a book.
I went through my practice (headstands, handstands and shoulder stands) and then, in corpse pose, I took deep breaths, relaxing every part of my body. My eye sockets, my throat, my cheeks. My toes my fingers. My armpits. Then, suddenly, I had the impulse to open my eyes and look at the sky. I was, after all, outside.
This is where things get a little weird.
I looked up and, with a childlike smile, I noticed a shape in the clouds. It looked sort of like an elephant with his trunk turned up.
Wait a minute, I thought. Isn't an elephant one of the Hindu gods or something? Doesn't it mean something in yoga or India? (Yes. I'm still learning about all of this. So give me some credit.)
After I finished my practice, I googled, "India Elephant God." Up popped good old Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. How fitting. I sat at my computer smiling. Well, what do you know? I thought. I'm not as worried about babysitting, after all.