Sometimes, I Yell

Sometimes, I Yell


Young beautiful woman doing yoga indoors.

I started studying yoga and meditation when my boys were still young. I used to joke that I’d still yell at them, but at 5:00 pm rather than 4:00 pm.

By Diane Lowman

My mother was a screamer. If she thought we did not hear her, did not understand her, or did not change our behavior quickly enough, she just shouted louder. I know, now, that she shrieked to be heard. To be acknowledged. It had nothing to do with toys on the floor or the still-full dishwasher.

I, beaten down by the raised volume, vowed to be different. To speak softly, without the big stick. But, as often is the case with parenting traits, we inherit them, whether we want them or not.

My outbursts may have been neither as frequent nor as thunderous as hers – after all, I was a product of two gene pools, the other quite quiet – but I did often default to a raised voice as a discipline device. It was as ineffective with my boys as hers was with us. I regret having hurled it at them at all.

Fifteen years ago, after earning a black belt in Tae Kwon Do (my way of venting the pent-up aggression, perhaps?) I took up yoga. I liked that it helped me to cultivate the same qualities of calm and focus as the martial art, without subjecting me to hand-to-hand combat. I studied the history and philosophy of this ancient practice, and now I teach it.

I don’t believe we can fundamentally change who or what we are with any activity, drug, or distraction. What I have learned through Asana and meditation is that changing ourselves is not the goal. What I have learned on the mat is how to recognize and radically accept myself, foibles and all. Including the proclivity to shout when frustrated, provoked, or dissatisfied. I notice, more quickly, those signs in my body that tell me I’m about to blow, and watch them with curiosity and kindness.

“Why, Diane, are you so irate at that moron in front of you who cannot seem to find the gas pedal, ever, when the light turns green?” I might ask myself as I white knuckle the steering wheel on, ironically, my way to yoga class.

This is not to say that I don’t get annoyed at stupid little things, or yell at the moron anyway eventually, but I might wait longer and I certainly notice it more.

I started studying yoga and meditation when my boys were still young. I used to joke that I’d still yell at them, but at 5:00 pm rather than 4:00 pm. But that’s something.

If I was particularly short-tempered or agitated they would ask: “Mom, have you gone to yoga today? Do you need a class?” And if I thought for a moment before admonishing them, the answer would inevitably be “No, and yes.”

In her 50s, my mother went back for her associates’ degree in early childhood education. She had found and was following a better path later in life, as had I. She would call me, almost daily, to tell me something she learned in class, and “what horrible mistakes I made with you girls. I wish I had known this then.”

“Mom,” I’d say, “We do the best we can. You were and are a wonderful mother.” Yet she continued the self-flagellation all through her formal education. Maybe she couldn’t change how she parented my sister and me but she was the best, most patient, most attentive, and most fun grandmother ever to my boys and my two nieces.

There is no gold mommy star shining over my head just because I shifted my path ever so slightly. And I would never take away the gold mommy star that now shines like a halo over my mother’s head just because she shouted. She was a saint; she earned it many times over.

I, too, often feel not heard, not seen, and not acknowledged, as she did. I just wish I’d started working on better ways to earn my star earlier.

FullSizeRenderDiane Lowman is a single mother of two young adult men, living in Norwalk, Connecticut.  In addition to writing about life, she teaches yoga, provides nutritional counseling, and tutors Spanish.  She looks forward to what’s next.
































A New Kind of Peace

A New Kind of Peace

By Claire Heffron

0“You’ll never catch me!” I hear the little voice upstairs accompanied by the bam-bam-bamming of plastic superhero on metal bed railing.

It is supposed to be nap time. My yoga time. My sanity. Curled into Child’s Pose, I try to ignore the sounds of my should-be-napping four-year-old and focus on my intention: shutting out the stresses of everyday life, the looming work deadlines, the packed calendar and finding a little peace and quiet. 

I am balancing precariously, knees on elbows, in Crow Pose when I realize I have an audience at the bottom of the stairs. It’s the superhero bammer. I stumble out of the pose and order him back up to bed NOW. He turns and scurries back up the stairs. “Peace and quiet,” whispers my inner voice.

A few minutes later, feeling the painfully invisible chair of Chair Pose, I hear that familiar creak of the stairs and a voice. “Mom, I really need a pen and paper.” My inner voice begs me to return to my intention, but it’s too late. Flushed with frustration, I rush him back to his room. By now my inner voice is no longer whispering. “I SAID PEACE AND QUIET DAMMIT!” And I’ve done it. I’ve actually broken my inner voice’s spirit. I roll up my mat, along with it any peace and quiet that’s left in the house, and stuff it all back into the closet.

Lately, I’ve found myself blaming my two boys for a string of failed yoga sessions like this one. They are distracting and loud. They need me nearly every moment of the day (even when they’re supposed to be asleep). I even started thinking that my life as a mom of two rough, noisy, preschool-aged boys simply wasn’t compatible with yoga anymore. There were just too few moments of silence and calm to practice mindfulness, to be present.

But during one recent yoga session, these two noisy creatures revealed themselves as the little yoga teachers they truly are. I decided one day to see if I could practice yoga for a few minutes in the middle of the morning, with both of them awake. I was skeptical. Previous yoga sessions with the boys had resulted in a couple of very uncomfortable pile-on-mom yoga poses. Sometimes, I would try to help them follow along with my practice, teaching them the names of the poses, but I usually ended up frustrated by their short attention spans and their compulsion to jump onto my back the minute I got down onto the floor. They just can’t help themselves. Somehow though, this day was different. I decided not to try so hard to get them involved. I didn’t even talk about what I was going to do. I simply rolled out my mat and started.

A few minutes in, leaning into Downward Dog, I noticed my two-year-old squatting awkwardly near my mat with his hands in prayer. He was looking at me with a furrowed brow, seemingly intent on mimicking my position.  Once he finally figured out how to bend himself into a Downward Dog, he inched onto my mat, tucking his little inverted V perfectly beneath mine. For a couple of seconds, we hovered there like two living, breathing nesting cups. It was like he was saying, “Go ahead mom. Do your yoga, but don’t forget to listen too.”

Without a word, he returned to crashing matchbox cars noisily down the stairs with his brother. I finished my practice; the boys crashed their cars. But somehow the noise was different this time.

In this one simple moment, I realized that I could still find that feeling of peaceful flow even while listening to their screams, their laughter, their crashing, and their arguing. And rather than feeling frustrated, allowing their noise into the experience actually made me feel lighter.

And so it turned out to be a thumb-sucking two-year-old who taught me that being present isn’t necessarily about being quiet. That mindfulness is less about shutting out and more about opening up and letting in. For me, it’s about letting in the sights, sounds, and yes … sometimes the smells … of my kid-filled world and finding a new kind of peace. My home yoga practice looks a little different now. I don’t always wait until nap time to roll out my mat. While other yogis fix their meditative stare on a statue of Buddha, my gaze often meets Spider Man’s as I sink into a lunge. The other day, I caught a glimpse of one of the boys ducking under my extended leg with a dripping popsicle. This is my new yoga. My new peace and quiet, my new mindfulness. It’s about hearing and noticing the chaos and then finding the quiet that’s inside of me, slinging it over my shoulder like a quiver of arrows, and holding onto it for dear life as I walk head-on into the noise.

Claire Heffron is a wife, a mom, and an occupational therapist working in preschool and primary school settings to promote independence and participation for children with special needs.  After spending the day surrounded by noisy preschoolers, Claire relies on writing and her yoga practice to bring her back to center.  Her article, Tiny Treasures was featured in Brain, Child in February 2013.

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