by Sydney Solis
Being a Householder Yogini provides ample opportunity to practice yoga without hanging out for hours in a large kula or cave! Here are my favorite opportunities to practice mindfulness and yoga while taking care of a household and family.
1) Cooking – Focusing your mind on your breath and body with awareness as you chop, dice or stir makes you present. Your heart adds to the pot gratitude to the earth for the food and love to nourish your family. Challenge your mediation and invite your children to help out. Focus on your breathing when the temptation to scream or yell in impatience arises.
2) Washing the dishes by hand – There is something so simple and pleasing about washing dishes. It saves time, money and energy, but it’s also satisfying to make something dirty clean again with your own hands. There is the silence of the plates, the sound of the water and getting to play like a child in warm, soapy water! Again, challenge your patient breathing by asking children to assist you. Find that inner peace and calm through breathing and patient mindfulness when they squabble, complain or break something. Your inner calm will rub off on them in time! I guarantee it! Your own calm and patience is reflected I the world! And eventually this becomes quality family time with one-on-one time with an individual child.
3) Gardening – There is great meaning in growing your own tomatoes, heirloom carrots and using what you grow in your home-cooked meals. You feel self-sufficient and know you won’t catch salmonella or pick up bad karma from the energy of slaves who were paid nothing to pick the food for you on some corporate farm. Heavy weeding can be a drag, but a daily visit to your garden to prune and pull a weed is actually very satisfying and provides a sense of accomplishment. This meditation puts you in deep harmony with nature and a sense of connection with all things.
4) Cross stitch, knitting, crocheting or sewing. I learned cross-stitching in Holland from my Dutch aunts when I was 14. It’s great concentration, relaxing to the mind, and you can create beautiful heirloom artwork! Sewing patchwork by hand is also a great concentration and focus, and you create beautiful pieces of clothing while expressing yourself. I never learned to knit or crochet beyond a basic stitch, but it’s on my list of things to do, as I want my kids to learn. It’s also a great survival skill to create hand-made clothing to sell if needed or give as gifts.
5) Sweeping – sweeping the porch of dust is symbolic of sweeping out the soul. It’s swooshing is satisfying and calming to the mind and soul! Curanderos use a broom for sweeping out disease and bringing in healing and change. I love sweeping with a simple broom, rather than a noisy vacuum or, god forbid, those ghastly noisy gas-engined leaf blowers. Bring mindfulness to your broom next time.
6) Housecleaning- OK, after awhile this gets really old, but sometimes out of financial necessity you must clean your own house. It has great mental rewards, as the body kicks in and the mind shuts down. Or you can ruminate over your issues while doing this rote work to find solutions to your problems. Get in some yoga in by throwing in a downward dog when you are exhausted. Remind yourself to engage mula bandha as you perform your tasks. Get grounded with squats as you clean the floor! Get into the cracks of your dirty kitchen floor and see if you can clean out whatever is kicking around in your unconscious and blocking you.
7) Picking up after your children. – Great yoga practice for squats again as you bend down to pick up after your children – sometimes hundreds of times a day. Again, bring that calm mindfulness into every day living by resisting the desire to explode and start screaming at your children. Instead resolve to withhold everything from your children until they start to pick up after themselves.
8) Singing to your children — There is nothing more pleasurable than singing to your children with them snug in your arms and lap. They love the sound of your voice, and you can use it as a mediation and vehicle for self expression. I love to sing the old favorites of Winken, Blinken and Nod, as well as Mockingbird and Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Your kids never forget those songs and bring them comfort and security for years to come!
9) Reading to and educating your children – There is no greater reward than educating your children and knowing that you take full responsibility for it. It brings you closer as a family, and develops important relationships, caring attitudes and responsibility to one another. Again, those powerful impatient feelings of frustration may arise when your child won’t listen or can’t spell or read well, so you just breathe in with awareness that frustration and breathe out love and joy for your children’s success and individual learning style!
10) Walk everywhere – If you can, ditch your car. Unplug from the uniquely neurotic American habit of schlepping your kids around to on overscheduled psychotic sessions of soccer, violin lessons, karate and whatnot. Walk everywhere you can. Your body will gain lots of muscular fitness from the alignment you practice while walking with meditative awareness. You will help the environment and save a lot of gas money!
11) Ditch the TV, Women’s Magazines, Cell Phone – I haven’t read a women’s magazine in 7 years and have never felt so good about myself. I haven’t used a TV, except to watch the presidential debates or Olympics, in seven years and am proud that I have never seen a reality TV show or an OctoMom or somebody with tons of kids whose name escapes me and divorced her hubby too. My reality is clearer and more focused. I lost my I-phone this summer and did not replace it. I no longer check emails 100 times a day or look at breaking news. I just look at reality and breathe, and remember not to scream and yell at my kids! Just love them! You can too!
12) Your own yoga class and meditation practice– Taking daily time for yourself to have a personal yoga and mediation practice is essential for sanity and enlightenment! Socializing in a group class and working with a teacher is also important and exhilarating. Community and practice gives us strength not to yell and scream at our children! But breathe and love instead!
13) Surrender on Sunday days – Choosing days to just do nothing is the best! Food not cooked? No problem! (We call it “survival night” in our family.) Kids not bathed and the house is dirty? Who cares? Surrender and just let things be. That’s the best way to live as a Householder Yogini. You will find many ways to be thankful for it all, as you bask in the present moment and behold eternal joy and love in your heart!
14) Do something nice for yourself – Stop everything, take out the art materials and fool around with it by yourself on the kitchen table all weekend. Go hang out with the girlfriends, or go hike up the mountain alone. Be sure to take time out for yourself and listen to that voice within to be sure you are balanced and centered.
15) In the Grocery Checkout Lane – In Argentina, the grocery line can take you 45 minutes to get through. No cell phone to distract me, I just stand and breathe and observe those thoughts about flipping out and going back to the US. I instead practice my breathing with my kids in line, and of course, it all passes and you are checked out and back home in no time.
So! The best place to practice mindfulness and yoga is in every day life! Showing up, paying attention, not being attached to the outcome and saying YES to everything!
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