November 11, 2012 mcfadyena

Yoga Camp

I went to a yoga retreat last week (we’ve dubbed it ‘yoga camp’- it was the first module of yoga teacher training). I was really excited and at first told many people about what I was going to do, but many of the people I talked to weren’t supportive. How could I leave my home-schooled children during the school year, how could I do that to Ryan who already works so hard- in a nutshell, I got the message that I was neglecting my duties as a mother and wife, so I just stopped talking about it. Now I’m posting a blog about it. 🙂 You might ask me why I’m writing about yoga camp on a blog about MPS II, but for me, they are closely interconnected.
In 2010 during the Vancouver winter Olympics, yoga was free at a local studio. After not having done any form of exercise since Trey’s birth in 2004, I thought I would give it a try. I wanted to get some exercise and get back in shape. Two years later, yoga is an integral part of who I am.
I do yoga when I’m feeling great and want to play. Adults in our culture it seems, take life very seriously. Seriousness is valued. We have responsibilities to provide for our families, so we should be serious. Having a son with a progressive and rare disease also adds a huge dose of seriousness to my life. Yoga is a break from serious. I can jump and fall on my head and laugh. No deadlines get missed, no one dies. Playing and laughing are FUN. I had forgotten just how much fun. Yoga brought fun back for me.
I also practice yoga when I am so scared that I have trouble knowing how to go on. When Trey was under general anesthetic at UNC back in August 2011 and I was waiting to find out if Trey would qualify for the intrathecal trial he is currently enrolled in- basically waiting to find out if he would qualify and live, or if he would be disqualified and left to die- I did yoga. Yes, in the corner of the hospital waiting room. In yoga there is one breath per movement, so when you’re focusing on that, it’s hard(er) to think about anything else. Yoga is how I clear my mind and let go, even just for a few moments at a time, emotions that are so intense and scary that I can’t put words to them.
Over the years I have come to my mat to play when I feel strong, to heal when I am sick, and to release and let go when I am scared. Yoga has become part of who I am and helps me discover who I want to become. Recently I got to a point in my practice where I wanted to learn more, so I went to yoga teacher training.
What I learned was life changing for me. I have always tried to find the positive side of a situation, but over time I guess I had come to believe certain aspects of myself, facts about life. I had accepted that I am a planner. I am an organizer. I am a thinker and an A-type personality. In life, this meant that while I was reading a story to the kids, I was thinking about who I had to email or what activity I had to sign the kids up for in the winter. I had also accepted that we all suffer. Unless you’re enlightened, that is true, but we do have the ability to choose how much we suffer. I learned that if we are truly present in a moment, all negative emotion falls away. If we let go of ego, there is no suffering.
I spent a great deal of last Saturday working with this idea in my head. Is it possible to not suffer if our child is dying? If someone dies suddenly, we grieve and move on. I can work with that. But if we spend a large portion of our lives watching our children lose their skills, abilities, personality, etc etc etc, is it possible to increase our happiness and reduce our suffering?
I don’t know if I will ever get to that point, but one of my teachers suggested not to jump so far ahead to thinking about death and if I can possibly not be ruined by it. She suggested to start now and take small steps. When I am with Trey, be in the moment. Live that moment with Trey (or anyone else). My mind may take me away from the present with fearful thoughts of the future (or less fearful, but no less disruptive, thoughts of future to do lists), but if I can catch that thought, let it go, and bring my mind back to the present, I will be happier.
This idea, as a mom whose child has a progressive disease, is life changing for me. I can stop the incessant thoughts. I can choose to be present and be happier, whether it’s feeling the water on my hands as I wash the dishes, feeling the taste of food in my mouth, or reveling in the feeling of a hug from my child. This means that I forgot who was taking the kids to gymnastics Friday afternoon and forgot Trey’s community worker was coming over this morning and led Ryan to laugh and comment that I’m not actually perfect! But I’ll trade that for more happiness any day.
I thought this was worthy of sharing with you. I’m not sure I’ll ever be enlightened, but the baby steps on the path in that direction sure can feel a lot better. Some people may tell me I am neglecting my duties as a wife and mother, but I disagree. I am becoming a fuller person so that I can better serve as a mother, wife, daughter, friend, neighbor, and hopefully, that will have an impact on the world. Thank you to all of you who were a part of it and to everyone who helped make this possible for me.
Be patient. Be grateful. Be mindful. Be present.
Thich Nhat Hanh – “The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”


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