The little things
It's been so long since I've posted because I've been... busy. I'm working full-time (though with hard-won home-working/flexitime deal that makes my life a lot easier) and I'm studying yoga teacher training with the British Wheel of Yoga. I'm on the 500 hour diploma, which takes a total of three years to complete. Some of our 'homework' this month luckily dovetails quite nicely with some of my recent musings. We've been asked to reflect on the Yamas and Niyamas, which in yoga philosophy are the ways we interact with others, and the personal observances we practice to try to attain 'right living'.
The second of the Niyamas, Santosha, is the one I have probably made the most progress with over the last few tumultuous years. Santosha is usually translated as 'contentment' or 'acceptance of what is'. In the fairly recent past, I was miles from even achieving a basic level of contentment - despite my obvious privilege, comfort and freedom. I've learned that this quality really is something that can be nurtured from within. While in my 20s I used to be obsessed with my levels of achievement, now I'm far more appreciative of the need to slow down and actually notice what's going on in front of me.
I practise this by trying to be truly present in the moments I might miss - and sometimes, I'm sure, still do! - when I'm rushing through life. The other day my daughter drew these smily faces on her bedroom window in the morning dew and it made me smile all day to think that she was happy when she got up. (Before this sounds too smug, she equally as frequently covers bits of paper in sad faces when she feels the opposite, to express her displeasure!). When I hear the children laugh, either when mucking about together or (more likely) at something stupid I've done, it can boost my mood way more than the artificial ways I still sometimes rely on (coffee, sugar, wine!).
The other day I blanked out an afternoon at work and took the kids to pick blackberries after school, then made us a crumble for that night's dessert. Simple, free, not exactly life-changing - but I treasure the memories we make above anything I own or could buy. Suddenly with both children in school full-time - which contrasts so dramatically with the previous year of lockdown and home-schooling - I feel so keenly the days and weeks speeding past me. My son is almost as tall as me. We have viewed secondary schools. Everyone sleeps through the night. My daughter is starting to read. Those drawn-out years of clipped wings with a pre-schooler at home and no babysitters are over, and in a probably-inevitable twist of fate, I now look with wistfulness at the mums who still have a toddler with them in Tesco. I'm drinking in every simple moment with Santosha, and with humbleness, because these precious kids have definitely taught me more than I imparted to them in the craziness of 2020. I am content with the little things.