Spiritual Survival Tips for Single Mothers #3 Happiness

stourhead swans

I don’t think anyone who knows me well would be surprised to hear that I am a very happy person and I consider myself to be really lucky. But its not the first two thoughts most of us would have about single mothers in general and certainly not someone who has been living alone with children for nearly 11 years.

So how has this happened? How have I managed to stay so incredibly positive and optimistic despite everything? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not skipping around with a smile on my face day in day out like a character from a Disney film, nor am I pretending to be something I’m not, or suppressing what can sometimes be a very challenging existence. Happiness is something we have at the core of our being, it sits comfortably at our centre and doesn’t need to shout or make a fuss about itself, happiness is knowing and trusting that all is well and as it should be, no matter what.

It hasn’t always been like this, its crept up on me over the years, someone asked me some time ago if I was happy and I found myself replying ‘I’m always happy’. It was then that I realised that no matter how stressed I was with my three children, now aged nine to sixteen years, no matter how scary the bank balance was looking or how my current relationship was going or not going, I was no longer struggling with the depression, anxiety and addiction issues that I once had and that I had found some inner stability that was keeping me solid at my spiritual foundation, holding me together.

I don’t believe that I would have made it this far, if I hadn’t been on my own for so long. We all come in to this life with Karma and I have had a lot to work through, mostly through my relationships with men. This is how I have learnt my lessons and how I have delved deep into myself to discover my truth, face my shadow, fight my demons and each time return with another piece of true happiness. I often remind myself that we have to reach rock bottom, to go right down to the very depths to find the treasure and each time we come back up with a new and shining jewel, a gem of wisdom, love and happiness. It is sometimes a terrifying, painful slide down, but always stay with the knowledge that there will be a pearl buried in the pit and once you find it, you will never regret that you had to make the descent. But pain, sadness and even tears do not have to mean that you are not happy, to be not happy would mean to never be able to see the glimmers of hope and sunlight that shine in no matter what is happening on the outside. I get sad and I still get jittery and anxious sometimes. Herding the children to school everyday, juggling a sick child with teaching a class or doing a massage, paying the bills or having to sort out the car if it lets me down, all of these  can still send my panic levels flying high, but underneath I am still happy. I know that each up and each down, each high and each low is temporary and at the core of my being nothing is going to hit so hard that I can’t get back up again.

Perhaps there could have been an easier route, but its not for me to say how my life should or shouldn’t have been mapped out, this is the life I have, this is the path I have taken and these are the soul lessons I am learning, there is very little point in arguing with the Divine Plan. I am happy that I have been given this life and all its opportunities. I have been allowed to grow exactly I as wish to for over a decade, with no serious partner to steer or nudge me off my chosen direction.I have had wonderful, supportive friends who I know have been sent to be by my side throughout this life and a great many teachers who have been my gurus, taking me from darkness to light. I have taken the benefits of being alone, given myself the time I needed to heal deeply and found a happiness that can’t be taken away because its all mine, I own it and its not attached to anybody or anything.

If we believe the society we live in, being a single mother probably isn’t meant to be like this. For today, try looking at your life, no matter what the circumstances, from a higher spiritual perspective and know that there is very little point in being anything other than happy about the day you are waking up to and the events that are taking place within it, because you can’t change them, you can only change yourself. My story perhaps could be described as a fairytale, a Disney movie without the princesses, the castles or the perfect prince. My fairy godmother was Divine Love and my prince was all the soul mate, Karmic love connections I have had that have helped me evolve and heal my soul and most wonderful of all, I have my beautiful children. I’m looking forward to the next sequel.

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Spiritual Survival Tips for Single Mothers #2 Gratitude

Woman practicing yoga at sunrise near the ocean

Being grateful for everything. Its a hard thing to do, everything, that’s a lot of good and a lot of bad, can we really be thankful for all of it?

When you come to a place where you are alone with your children, it’s most likely you have had a horrible time. Your relationship broke down, you had to go through terrible pain and watch your children suffer with grief and loss, you may have lost your home, your friends may have abandoned you, perhaps you had to give up your career to cope with the demands of being a lone parent. What ever brought you to here, it’s unlikely you’re looking back at it all from a positive perspective, in fact you are probably trying your best not to look back at all, its too painful still.

We know how important it is to be grateful for the good things, our beautiful children, our health, the roof over our heads and the food on the table, but how about having gratitude for the suffering and the hardships?
Patanjali says in his Yoga Sutras 2.33 ‘Vitarka badhane pratipaksa bhavanam/When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive) ones should be thought of’.
So can we turn those feelings of negativity about  our situation and all that has brought us here, into positive feelings of gratitude for the lessons we have learnt? Perhaps most importantly can we be thankful for the heartbreak and pain we have felt that has opened us spiritually and helped us to heal our deep soul wounds?

Gratitude changes everything, try bringing it into every difficult situation you are about to enter into. I recently had to meet up with someone who I knew was going to bring me down, make me feel hurt, uncomfortable and knock my confidence badly, but it had to be done. The day before I was getting really anxious about it and didn’t know how to control my mind and be still enough to even get to the meeting, let alone stay unemotional and centred during it. But then it came to me to be grateful, to approach the meeting and to stay peaceful in a state of gratitude for the experience throughout. Immediately as I started to practice gratitude it changed my whole perspective. I went from feeling like a victim, hard done by, hurt and rejected, into an equal, my soul was equal to this person, I could find it in myself to thank them for coming into my life and for showing me everything they had about myself. I did just that during the time I spent with them that day, I repeated how grateful I was to them for giving me this experience and I said goodbye for the last time, with a meaningful and heartfelt thank you.

I try to do this with all aspects of my life. Gratitude for all of  the changes, the people that come and go, the children that try my patience and tolerance, my work that is sometimes demanding, the house moves that were stressful and too frequent, the relationships that broke my heart. These changes will keep coming, life is a flow that never ends, if we stay present we can see these events as ‘things happening’ rather than awful, unpredicted blows to our peaceful state. If we can be grateful for them all, every single one, even the hard ones, then we can keep ourselves balanced and equal to all those around us and we can work deeply with releasing our Karma.

Having gratitude is also about really having trust and faith that there is a Divine Plan and that we are loved in oneness and completeness with the universe. Really having faith that everything that has happened, is happening and ever will happen, is divinely guided and purely meant to be. It’s hard to believe and trust when you’re going through an awful period in your life or still recovering from a past experience, its difficult when you have to watch the children you love go through pain, but we need to be thankful for it all. This is our life, this is the incredible life on this miraculous planet that we have been given, these are the experiences we are going through, that are helping us to evolve, to move closer to freedom and liberation from suffering and from the cycle of Karma. We must be grateful for each one, whether it is an experience we like or one that we don’t like.

So let gratitude be your mantra, bring thankfulness to everything and all, lift yourself out of any feeling of victimhood or lack of abundance in health, finance, love or luck and be grateful for the Divine lessons that you are learning.

Chant, sing, trust and have faith, remember that all changes bring us to something new and wonderful in the end, have gratitude for your past changes that have brought you happiness in the end, stay in the Light, Heal and Love.

Try this mantra, it is  a mantra for prosperity and abundance:

Har Har Har Gobinda
Har Har Har Mukunday
Har Har Har Udaaray
Har Har Har Apaaray
Har Har Har Hariang
Har Har Har Kariang
Har Har Har Nirnaamay
Har Har Har Akaamay

Har – Infinite Divinity.
Gobinday- Sustainer.
Mukunday- Liberator.
Udaaray- Enlightener.
Apaaray- Infinite
Hariang- Destroyer
Kariang- Creator
Nirnaamay- Nameless
Akaamay- Desireless

These words were written by the 10th Sikh Guru, the Guru Gobind Singh.

“This mantra is to fix the mental to prosperity or power. It will produce
money, it will come. Opportunities will come. Richness will come…” 
– Yogi Bhajan
“When you chant this mantra with the breath of life, it’s quick, it’s purposeful, and it brings in what you need to bring in…” 
– Yogi Bhajan

Since Har literally means God, it has been said that Har symbolizes prosperity and creativity, all that “is”.

Spiritual Survival Tips for Single Mothers#1 Break ups

Spiritual survival tips I will have quite a few of these tips on this blog! My spiritual practice has kept me strong and sane over the past decade as a single parent. No matter what the the ups or the downs, my yoga, meditation, holistic therapies and study have lifted me out of any feeling of victimhood and helped me see my life from a higher spiritual perspective.

In the years since my divorce I have only allowed two men into the lives of my children, I have been careful not to expose them to anything that I didn’t consider to be serious and committed. My last relationship break up with a man I allowed wholly and completely into all of our lives, was very raw for some time. I spent a lot of time and put a lot of energy into healing and helping myself and my children try to come to terms with what  happened, but we are peaceful and we have a lot of love in our little family.

Here are some of the spiritual ways that I helped myself through those difficult months post break up. These ideas helped me through the first initial stages of shock and heartbreak. I am blessed to be surrounded by loving, wise souls who immediately stepped in to offer me guidance and support. A Zen meditator and explorer, a Kundalini yoga teacher, an astrologer, Shamanic healer, acupuncturist, Ayurvedic therapist the loving friends and the yogis, here are some of the life changing, spirit healing ideas that they shared with me, passing on to you:

  • Read this book or listen to it on audio, trust me, it will change your life forever, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. The book is founded in the ancient Yoga Sutras and will challenge everything you ever thought about relationships and love. This book has not left my bedside the past few months and I still often listen to the audio on my school run each morning.
  • Once you have finished the book, download his other lectures, this man is my Guru.
  • Have acupuncture or a really good massage, as soon as you can after the shock to help you release some of the stored tension in the body, keep having them once a week at least if possible.
  • Say the Forgiveness prayer every day. Repeat each line in your mind or out loud for three minutes each, the first two lines sit up with your left hand on your heart, the third lying down with both hands on your heart:
    I forgive_____for all they have done to upset me
    I ask and I receive forgiveness for all I have done to upset _____
    I forgive myself, I dwell in Light, I dwell in God.
    By practising forgiveness we can release ourselves from Karma, reacting negatively towards the person who has hurt you will only add to your Karmic blocks, if something needs to be said, say it peacefully or write it in a letter. They have to take the burden of causing you pain through their actions, you don’t need to enter into that with them, look after yourself, get yourself to a place of peace and calm, then contact them if you need to.
  • If a man walks away without saying goodbye or dealing with any of the emotional affect they have caused you and your children, let them, it is up to them how they deal with their Karma through their actions, not yours.
  • Comfort your children, explain to them that it isn’t their fault, children tend to blame themselves and feel guilt when their parent is upset, reassure them daily that they played no part in the break up. Try to get your ex partner to talk to the children himself and reassure them, if he won’t again that is his choice of action and his Karmic block, don’t react. Help your children yourself as best you can and ask family and friends to help reassure and support them through their own sense of grief and loss.
  • Chant mantra, sing through your tears and through your heartbreak. Chant Guru Guru Wahe Guru Guru Ram Das Guru, to bring about self healing, guidance and joy. I found a beautiful version by Snatum Kaur on youtube and and it brought me such peace, I have been chanting it everyday for 31 minutes and will continue for at least 11 days.
  • Try Shamanic Healing, I have had two sessions and both have helped me greatly.
  • Have a Sound Healing, the Gong, Tibetan & Crystal Bowls and Monochord all help to cut through Karmic blockages. I had an intense period of nightmares, night sweats and sleep convulsions after having a sound healing in the early days of the break up, it was hard but looking back it sped up my healing process and helped me deal with my deep soul wounds. Find my amazing sound healing therapist based in Somerset here.
  • Insomnia is very common after a break up. Try some of these remedies, all of which I have tried and highly recommend.
    5-HTP Serotonin great for sleep and to reduce anxiety, take one or two tablets on an empty stomach before bed.
    Asphalia take one or two tablets half an hour before bed.
    Magnesium Oil rub into your feet just before bed, also really useful to help you have strong, guiding dreams. Also if like me, the physical pain around your Solar Plexus and Heart Chakra burns and causes you discomfort, rub the oil into that area for relief.
  • Read or listen to the audio of this book The Diamond in Your Pocket by Gangaji.
  • Keep up your yoga practise, work daily with hip openers and back bends to release tension and heal the heart.
  • Set up a strong meditation practice, light candles, make sure you won’t be disturbed and try to sit for extended lengths of time, an hour a day is good if you can.
  • Sleep. Take naps and just rest lying down as much as possible. Try to take time off work if you can even for a few days.
  • Be with your children, don’t hide yourself or your emotions from them. Children feel disturbed if they know something is wrong but no one is telling them why. You don’t need to tell them everything at first, but don’t pretend you are ok, they know you’re not and they will want to comfort you with hugs, cups of tea and help around the house, let them.
  • Know that all this pain and suffering will pass, try to flow and sit with the hurt, don’t run from it or try to distract yourself, by being with the pain now, you will release deeply and be much more open and ready for a new relationship when it arrives in your life.
  • Breathe. When you feel the often immense weight of pain in your heart, relax your shoulders, breathe through it. Try this short meditation:
    Inhale pranic healing energy through the crown chakra
    Exhale it into your heart
    Inhale pranic healing energy through the heart chakra
    Exhale and release all the suffering out through the heart.
    Practise this each time the pain becomes too much, each time you release the further to liberation from pain you are becoming.
  • There comes a point in the healing process where we need to stop talking negatively, we have to get all of that terrible feeling of betrayal out of our system at the beginning, all the lies, the dishonesty, the pretence and lack of true commitment that are sadly sometimes a part of a relationship ending. But then it can just perpetuate your suffering to keep repeating the story, try to avoid friends who want to get into negative chats about your ex, its not healthy. If your ex wasn’t abusive or horrible in some way, its important to remember that he is a good man who is perhaps just struggling emotionally or with his own pain, in time you will look back with fondness so rather than feel hate towards him now, why not speed up the process and remember the happy times, stick with friends who are positive about your ex rather than those that want to tear him to pieces. A break up is often the time to consider who your friends really are and stick with the ones who lift you up spiritually not drag you down.
  • Find the love in your own heart again, remember that you don’t need a person to feel love, a person is there to share your love with, but the love you have is always there, it can’t be taken away.

Teenage bullying & opting out of mainstream education

depressed

I have read tragic, heartbreaking stories in the papers from Mothers who lost a child to suicide, I think it so brave of them to open up and talk about what has happened to them and the truth of what led up to such an awful event for any parent and family. I felt too, that by telling their story they were helping other parents who might need to look out and watch for their own young. The most horrific part of reading or hearing of another families loss to teenage suicide, is that there is often discovered a series of traumatic events for the child that if someone had been aware of, perhaps could have helped them to recover from. On line, cyber bullying is all over the  news and cases where particularly girls are humiliated to the point of extreme desperation are making the headlines too many times each year.

I am lucky, my daughter made it through her suicide attempt and is gladly and blissfully still here with us. This is the story that led us to that dreadful day and the changes we’ve made since, maybe someone might read this who needs help with their own child. I’ve asked for my daughters permission to write this and will call her Libby instead of her real name.

Life had been difficult for Libby for a long time, her father and I had a terrible divorce, the fighting and animosity went on far too long and affected the children badly. Libby being the eldest and having had the first five years of her life with us living together as a family, was certainly more affected than my middle daughter who was only a tiny baby when we split. Libby is now 16, my middle daughter 11. When Libby went up to secondary school at age 11, things were looking really rosy for her. She was a really able pupil, glowing reports right through school, teachers loved her, she loved school and she shone so brightly amongst her friends who all loved her. I wasn’t convinced about the reputation of our local catchment school but Libby was determined to follow her friends there and I made the decision to let go of my own desire for her to go perhaps to grammar or try for a scholarship at a private school and felt it best to let Libby decide her pathway.

All seemed well but in year 8 when Libby was 13 years old, problems started with bullying from other girls in the school. I made an application for Libby to try to get into a school with an amazing reputation in another nearby town, hoping this could solve the problems she was having and also give her a chance to achieve to her full potential academically.

In September 2012, Libby started in Year 9 at her new school. It was difficult, she didn’t know a soul. I remember on the first transfer day I had to call someone out to the car to try to help me convince her to get out and enter the school building. They were supportive and did help her through that first day, but when your child tells you they would rather die than step into another school, you have to really have faith in your decision as a mother and pray that you’ve made the right one. It’s easy as well to think that the things our children say are sometimes overly dramatic or meant to pull on our heart strings, listen, really listen because perhaps what a child is saying is coming from the desperateness they are feeling in their hearts.

Libby started well at her new school, on her 14th birthday in October just a few weeks after the start of term, she gathered 18 girls from her year and I felt  assured about her being able to settle there, they all seemed like lovely, happy fun girls. But in January 2013 the first bombshell hit. I took Libby for an assessment at Camhs (the Child and Adult Mental Health Service) after worries that she was feeling very down and emotionally struggling. The therapist called me into the room after the appointment to tell me Libby had been self-harming. This wasn’t something I was prepared for and it doesn’t matter how much you read about teenagers harming themselves or how common it is, it’s a shock to hear your own child is feeling that desperate. We started counselling straight away and her mood did lift for a while. I tried to reconnect with her, spending time in a way that its easy to forget when you’re a busy working Mum with younger children competing for attention and support. Libby seemed to improve, but all through this there were ongoing problems with her father and we all had concerns about the usual worries with teenagers, boys, her choice of friends and the terrible pull between letting go and holding on as they start to rebel and make their own decisions.

In the early summer of 2013 I started a relationship with a wonderful man, this was lovely news for me and I was very happy, but in this time I feel I lost my connection with Libby. Our late night catch up chats each night after her younger siblings were in bed, I now spent on the phone or having supper with him, I became so wrapped up in all the attention that I was getting from him, attention I hadn’t had for myself in a long time, that I selfishly took my eye off Libby. The changes that came with this new relationship were rapid and intense, a new man around the house, new children coming in and staying at weekends, holidays, it all felt blissful for me, but I know now Libby felt confused and lost as I moved further away into being wrapped up in love.

Things went from bad to worse over the coming Winter months. Libbys autumn school report showed a dramatic change in the level of her work and there were obviously clashes and serious problems with her teachers in Maths and Science. When Libby went back to school after the Christmas break she seemed to be becoming like a shadow of her beautiful self. She was frequently getting upset by comments made by teachers in many of her lessons, personal comments about her appearance or blatantly bullying comments about her abilities.

Libby had an ISA (independent science assessment) exam that January morning, she looked pale and said she was feeling sick, it was a cold, freezing day but I dropped her at the bus stop as usual, distracted as I so often was, with the school run, my other two children and worrying about whether Libby had even looked at revision for the exam. I then went on to teach my first yoga class of the day. A few minutes before the class was to begin I noticed a persistent call from an unknown number on my mobile. I was about to switch the phone off so it didn’t disturb the class when I received a text from my Mum, saying ‘call now urgent’. I asked my class to lie in Savasana and relax while I popped outside for 2 minutes. I called the number and spoke to the school where they told me Libby had taken an overdose and been taken to hospital in an ambulance. My coping mechanism is always denial, that was how I went back into the class, told my ladies that my daughter had been taken ill, packed up and drove the 20 miles to A&E. I was still in complete denial until the Doctor came into the side room where Libby lay, pale and emotional to tell us the levels of paracetamol in her blood were way over the regulated guideline amounts for immediate treatment. She had taken two large doses of paracetamol over a two day period. My denial ended, this was really happening, my precious daughter had been suffering so greatly and deeply that she had made this determined decision to end her own life.

Any feeling or emotion for yourself stops when you are faced with a child as despairing as this, everything became about Libby, you don’t fall apart until much later because you are there and your child is suffering and all you do is be there for them, entirely. The nurses found me a bed so I could lie next to Libby that night and the next day we waited for results to tell us if any permanent damage had been done to Libbys liver. Luckily all was clear. Psychological assessments were routinely performed and I firmly put my foot down to any suggestion that Libby should remain in care to recover in a psychiatric ward, she was coming home with me.

When we arrived home after 36 hours in hospital, the floodgates to all that had really been going on for Libby, opened. She had been suffering terrible bullying at school and online on Facebook, Tumbler, SnapChat and Ask.com. The girlfriends she thought she had, had humiliated her, they turned her into a spectacle, I’m sure they had no idea of the damage they caused and its possible they never will. I just thank God that Libby made it through her anguish and had the strength to open up to me and tell me what had been happening. I spoke to the parents of one of the boys involved, we called in the police and asked the school to intervene. It was thankfully all taken very seriously, I took over for Libby, doing everything I could to protect her from immature minds who can’t understand the destructive effect of what they do. Libby had three weeks off school and we all knew that her return to school was going to be very difficult.

She tried, she tried to go back and fit in, be normal and get on. But it was too hard for her, the school itself now represented humiliation, abuse, torment and anxiety. Libby started to truant from school, she barely went from February to July 2014. She would go in some days, an incident either from her bullying peers or one of the draconian teachers, would trigger a panic attack of anxiety and she would simple walk off site. I would receive texts most days from the school, a generic text telling me my daughter hadn’t arrived for register or a class. I was in a permanent state of worry and anxiety myself, wondering where she and gone, what she was doing and of course panicking that she might have taken it upon herself to do something rash again. We called the police several times trying to find her, we do not live anywhere near the town or the school so I would ask the partner that I had at the time, to go out to try to find her, he often would, in the library. The school were patient at first but then she became labeled as another naughty child, truanting, with a bad attitude and it felt to me that they gave up on her.

Libby was by now seeing a private psychoanalyst once again, we gave up on Camhs after they suggested we medicate her to get her back to school. I refused to drug my child just to get her back onto the hamster wheel of life and conformity, we were going to work through this and give her as long as it took, no quick fixes and no covering up Libbys true feelings and true distress. Instead she had weekly sessions with a therapist and weekly massages for healing with a colleague of mine. These cost way beyond our means but I can not stress enough to any other parent, how invaluable these were. The therapist really connected with Libby in a way no other ever had, he was highly experienced and worth every penny. I trusted that it was worth it and it felt at the time that the universe was helping us, I suddenly started getting extra clients that helped to pay this added outgoing and I was lucky that my parents also helped a little towards the cost. The therapist fed back to me when needed and with Libbys consent, he helped her get on top of her school work, suggested private tutors and organised a revision timetable for an upcoming Year 10 GCSE Core Science exam. We worked fast and in five weeks Libby went from being predicted a D in her exam to getting a fantastic B grade. She worked so hard showing us all that she really wanted to do well, really wanted to learn and that the school were letting her down.

Her therapist then went on to suggest Libby shouldn’t be at the school at all, we looked at homeschooling but when I told the school the situation was becoming that drastic for us, they suggested a Learning Centre. Our local centre, is a tiny school in a big old house just outside the town, its reputation is for the children who have been expelled, the ‘delinquents’, I  wasn’t keen. But by July, Libby had barely spent more than a few days in school, she was voting with her feet and flatly refusing to tow the line and conform to mainstream school. We’d tried all we could and at the end, when I made the decision to pull her out once and for all, I too was getting fed up with the system. I was tired of being told that her skirt was too short, her hair too wild or that she’d been found wandering off the school site, I wanted the school to try to understand what had happened to Libby, to help her and support her but it seemed they just didn’t have the resources or the inclination to treat her with the respect she needed. Everything I thought about the importance of having my child in school, behaving, fitting in and conforming, disappeared, I looked at her and thought, no, enough is enough, lets try something else.

So early July of this year I told her that was the end, no more school, ever. We made an application for Libby to go to the local Learning Centre, knowing that if it was unsuccessful it would be on my shoulders to educate her at home. We had a strong medical referral and others from her therapist and the school and we were pleased that she was accepted this September. Poor Libby, when I told her the news that she had a place I thought she’d be pleased but she just said it was hard to be happy about a journey that had been so awful and so difficult.

It is now mid November and Libby has been at centre for two months. She seems happy and settled at last. Subjects are taught mainly solo or in groups of two, the other pupils are there for various reasons, the girl she has most of her classes with is there for medical reasons. The atmosphere is very relaxed and laid back, no uniform, reduced hours and pupils are treated with great respect, no one gets told off or humiliated, its gentle and there is someone there to talk to if any child has the need.  She spends two days doing just art, a subject she had dropped in Year 9 after being told she wasn’t very good at it, shocking at any school that should know better. Therapeutically the chance to get absorbed in her art is fantastic for her and the work she is producing is wildly creative and fun. She is studying for 10 GCSE’s,  she’s starting a project towards GCSE Film and Photography this week and on Thursday she starts a course in Motor Mechanics! She also has the opportunity to go powerboating in the Spring.

Libby’s friend group went down to two girls before the summer but now she is slowly building up a wider group, she’s discovered that boys are a lot easier to get along with at this age, less complicated perhaps and she has a lot of boy mates. She smiles and laughs a lot more, doesn’t need to wear as much make up, a mask that she felt she had to put on before, she seems comfortable with herself, her body, her clothes. She stopped seeing her Dad which is sad but I hope that in time she will be able to rebuild her relationship with him, particularly as he and I are able to communicate more gently and with more clarity than ever before. The relationship I was in, ended which was hard for her, she built up a bond with him and he was there for her through all the bad times. We are all healing from this loss, its hard for the children when someone goes, when they just disappear and don’t say goodbye or stay in touch at all, we will heal from this in time, at least we had that support when we needed it most. I’m not complacent about how all of this has affected Libby, its been difficult, there are still concerns, its not all rosy. There are still all the usual issues parents have at her age, smoking, drinking, drugs and hoping that she is safe, but I hope we can move on in a new way now, more connected and more mindfully aware of Libby and her feelings.

Libby pushed me to the limit on all my conditioning about mainstream education, she pushed me beyond my comfort zone, because she is such a strong willed, determined young woman who seems to be turning a terrible episode in her life, into something creative and opening up the door to possibilities that I can’t wait to watch as she grows. I’m blessed to have all my children, I wouldn’t wish what happened to us on anyone, but if it ever does my advice would be, stay open, do nothing but love your child fully, completely and listen to them, treat them with respect, like you would another adult, listen and be there, help them and support them. If school is the problem, and it often is, trust that it isn’t the only solution to your childs education, we are so well conditioned to believe that it is and it can feel like a major upheaval and stress on us as parents to try alternatives. But in my experience there is nothing more stress-free than having a happy, laughing teenager around the house. Long may it continue.

Resources:

www.resonancecp.com
www.tutorhunt.com
www.nspcc.org.uk
www.sankalpa.co.uk
www.mindfulnessinschools.org

Forgiveness and Compassion to Release Karma

cropped-1050004.jpgWe’ve been thinking about Forgiveness today here on our yoga retreat weekend at Mellulah. Its been a simple day with much to reflect on and work with. Forgiveness begins with ourselves as well as for others and when we begin to understand the cycle of Karma that runs through each of our lifetimes, we can find humility in the knowledge that Karmic laws run far beyond anything we as humans can control. We can’t change what has been, we can’t go back to the past in this life or to any of our previous lives and change the actions that we engaged in, that cause us to have the Karmic blocks that now effect us in this life. But we can work on releasing these blocks, we can watch and listen to life as it tries to steer us into situations that trigger these blocks.
Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves or angry at the Universe for causing us pain and suffering, we can be grateful that life is trying to help us, to bring us closer to our truth and to understanding. Listen, watch and learn from the lessons life is bringing us. Release, let go and surrender into the pain and suffering that we feel and forgive ourselves for struggling. Whatever has happened is now gone, it is past, it is the future that we can change, by changing ourselves in a deep, soulful way.

The cycle of Karma:
>Action (Karma) > Impression (Samskara) > Vasana (Tendency) > Vritti (Thoughts) > Action (Karma)>

The cycle of Karma has no beginning and no end, we must complete 36,000 Karmic cycles before we can reach Moksha, freedom from Karma (according to Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras 2BCE).
Samskaras are impressions left on the heart centre caused by an action made during this or a previous life. These Samskaras behave as blocks within our hearts and give us Vasana, tendencies towards certain desires, urges and feelings, often negative. In turn our Vasana move us to Vritti, thought patterns that support our desires and feelings, these forms our attitudes, our moods and our emotional outlook on life.
We come to releasing this cycle by working at the Vritti level, learning to work with our thoughts to release the Karmic cycle and bring profound transformation into our lives.

We can not control our past Samskaras but we can perhaps stop our Samskaras from controlling us in this life. We can do this through the practice of yoga, by following Patanjalis 8 limbs of Astanga Yoga, we can learn to moderate the mind, control and regulate our Chittavritti (the monkey mind/mind chatter).
When we feel a block in our hearts, when we start to close and lock ourselves away, we know we are facing a Samskara. This is the time to sit, come to a peaceful place, listen, release and let go of the suffering we feel in the heart centre. Practice yoga, meditate and allow the Samskara to move through us to release and liberation. It is natural for us to want to run away from this work, when we feel the pain associated with a block in the heart we as humans like to distract, we have so many methods, anything but sitting with it. This sitting and feeling can take days, weeks or months but it is worthwhile every time, don’t run away, allow the pain and suffering to move through you at the very core of your being, surrender to it.
Once we have released the Samskara we can then look at our situation with peace and clarity. Do not react in anyway until the Samskara has moved through, as long as there is a feeling of pain and blockage we are still being controlled by it, our Vasana and Vritti will have a strong hold. Once we are free of this we can decide how to proceed, what needs to be done? Does anything need to be done, to be said, is there a need for action? Trust that with the Samskara released, we can act out our Karma in a new, liberated way. Rather than adding a new Samskara that will cause further blockage, we can free ourselves and release it fully.
This release is a wonderful thing! We are free! There is no other spiritual feeling than the knowledge of a Samskara liberated!

And forgive, forgive yourself, you are not omnipotent, you are a human being working through your cycles of Karma and you have just made it through a pattern that could have been with you for many lifetimes. Forgive those who came into your life and offered you situations and suffering that helped you to release, let them go too, bless them with gratitude for the part they played and move on, be free and live.