Vrtti Sarupyam Itaratra: At other times [the Self appears to] assume the forms of the mental modifications.(Patanjali – The Yoga Sutras, 1.4)
In his translation and commentary on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Sri Swami Satchidananda writes:
“You seem to have lost your original identity and have identified with your thoughts and body. Suppose I ask you who you are. If you say, ‘I am a man,’ you have identified yourself with a masculine body. If you say, ‘I am a professor,’ you are identifying with the ideas gathered in your brain. If you say, ‘I am a millionaire,’ you are identifying with your bank account; if ‘a mother’, with a child; ‘a husband,’ with a wife. ‘I am tall; I am short; I am black or white’ shows your identification with the shape and color of the body.
But without any identifications, who are you? Have you ever thought about it?”
With Mother’s Day around the corner, many people wonder how to best honor and celebrate the mother(s) in their lives. One blog – more humorous in tone – likened a moms’ feelings to how we pretend to our love our breakfast in bed even though it’s made of burnt toast and over-scrambled eggs. While we are actually just thinking about the inevitable mess of crumbs and (very likely) messy kitchen that we’ll have to clean up later, we still receive that burnt toast and overdone eggs with joy and gratitude. From that perspective, Mother’s Day, in essence, can be chalked up to “Let’s make our children feel good about themselves” Day.
A friend of mine once asked her Facebook mommy friends the following question: ‘If you would have a whole day for yourself, what would you do?’
Most moms said that they would want to sleep for an entire day, which is something I can relate to. For a long time, I’ve said that as soon as my kids could handle me being away overnight I would book a hotel room and just sleep and stay in bed for a weekend. But upon reading all those responses to my friend’s Facebook post, I began to reflect on the last day that I actually took off for myself.
On this particular day off, I didn’t stay in bed. I didn’t sleep, not even a little catnap. It’s not that sleeping for a day doesn’t sound like one of the most amazing things to me right now. On that particular day I just felt I needed to use my valuable time differently. And lingering in bed would be the ultimate confirmation of my role as mom.
I wanted to have a break from being a mom.
Another idea I had that day was to take one or more classes at our yoga studio. Anyone who owns a yoga studio though, or any other business, knows that it’s impossible to just walk in and act like a customer. You won’t be able to leave for at least another hour – answering questions, folding towels or cleaning mirrors.
So I dismissed it.
While I considered taking yoga class at another studio in town, I felt that in order to truly letting go of all those roles and identifications I hold on to, I should do something completely different. I set the intention to be completely open to what the day would bring and where my intuition would take me. What began to unfold was wonderful! I had a massage and bought a yummy smoothie. I took a long drive down a scenic route with the windows open and music on and my hair blowing in the wind. I impulsively stopped at a park I had never been to before.
The very best part of the day was when I took a leisurely walk on the beach, not bothering to look at my watch or my phone, and a homeless guy approached me for a chat. For a change, I didn’t hurriedly hand him a dollar to hastily continue with my important stuff. I didn’t have an agenda for the day so I just let him tell me all his stories. And they were fascinating. After 40 minutes or so he asked if I was interested in a game of ping pong. I immediately accepted. He was delighted because most people always tell him they don’t have time for ping pong. And that was that. We played a game of ping pong and then said goodbye. I was amazed at how much fun I had with a homeless stranger on the beach.
This day made realize how freeing it was to detach from all roles and identifications. In doing this, we allow other unexpected experiences, feelings and thoughts to bubble up to the surface of our being.
The best gift to give your mother on Mother’s Day is to give her an opportunity to, even just for a little moment, connect with her Self. And if she doesn’t own a yoga studio, gifting her a yoga class might be the ultimate way of doing that!
Zefea had her first experience with yoga at the age of 4 when her parents practiced with renowned teacher Angela Farmer in the Iyengar tradition. She forgot about yoga during her teens and twenties and trained for boxing and the combat system Krav Maga. Zefea rediscovered the benefits of yoga when she started practicing Bikram Yoga in her home town Amsterdam. From 2006-2008 she represented the Netherlands as the Dutch gold medalist in the International Yoga Championships, finishing in the world's top 10. Zefea experienced new depths of yoga through practicing while pregnant (up till the day of giving birth).