I wasn’t sure if I was being brave, selfish, foolish or very optimistic – being a mamma of an 18 month old and deciding to go on a 4 day Art of Silence/ Part Two Course. To give you an idea of what it involves, being on this course means being in session (either meditating, doing yoga, listening to knowledge or being in satsang) from 6am until about 9.30pm for four days. The course is usually run as a residential retreat. While it may not sound like a big deal to you, I’ve pretty much been a 24-7 stay home mum for the last 18 months, so the idea of handing over my mamma-hood responsibilities to Simon for four consecutive days was quite a big deal for me. I was under no illusion that it wouldn’t have its challenges but I knew I needed it … badly. Although I do the sudarshan kriya breathing practice daily at home, my nervous system was desperately wanting some loving. I felt as though I needed a real holiday. So despite my hesitation, I booked in.
I haven’t kept track, but I’ve done the Art Of Living Part Two Course about 30 times over the last 10 years. That’s my testimony to how good it is. You know how you often return from a holiday feeling tired and tanned? Well over the years my real holiday, the kind I always come back from feeling new, has been this course – I was hooked from the day I did my first Art of Living course.
Since Joshi was born I haven’t felt able to take on going on an Art of Living Part Two course. Its one of those many things that’s got squeezed out while taking care of a little human being. Anyway, on Wednesday last week I packed my bags, my yoga mat, meditation cushion and guitar. I also packed a suitcase for Joshi. The plan was that he and Simon would be at the course venue hanging out together while I did the course.
Day One: The Art of Living
The day went pretty well – both on the course and with Simon and Joshi. They seemed to be doing fine without me. (I wasn’t aware that Joshi was repeating ‘mama’ like a mantra while I was in session. It’s probably just as well. I wouldn’t have felt too good about it).
That night all of us went into silence. It’s part of the course. I always love being in silence, but it was quite challenging at first, not being able to ask Simon for a debrief on how things were going for them. I realised how consumed I am in my role as a stay home mum – always thinking about Joshi and making sure he’s been fed, watered, rested, exercised, etc.
Day Two: The Art of Perseverance
Joshi had woken a lot during the night and we were all tired. Knowing I’d get deep rest in the meditations on the course, I put Joshi in the baby carrier during our morning break and took him for a run through the bush land, in silence. It was very special. Also, Simon got to have a brief nap.
As the day progressed I could see Simon and Joshi were struggling. Both were tired and by evening Joshi was really irritable and hyper (you know how kids get when they’re over-tired). He also had a really nasty looking rash around his mouth and chin. (I’m blaming the pineapple). Plus he’d missed his midday sleep – recipe for disaster. He’d had a short nap but nothing close to his usual 2 to 3 hours. Simon looked worn out. My doubts were really setting in. I started wondering whether the smartest idea would be to just pack our bags and head home. I mean, it’s one thing if I’m getting the benefit from the course, but if this is the cost to my family then is it worth it?
It was time to make use of the botheration box. On the course, if there’s anything bothering you you can write it down and put it in the botheration box. Remember you’re in silence, you can’t just talk this stuff over.
Day Three: The Art of Letting Go
Somehow everything seemed to come together on day three. Simon seemed rested. Joshi was full of beans. And whenever I checked in on them they seemed really well. During lunch I found them curled up on our bed, fast asleep. It was at this stage I was able to let go more and be more present on the course. Sweet relief.
Day Four: The Art of Gratitude
And then they came, the tears of gratitude. I felt so great, in every way. And so full. Ahhh… great-full! Grateful in abundance to Guruji (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) for creating these incredible courses which enable me to effortlessly connect with that inner stillness and peace. Grateful for all the incredibly wonderful people who’ve come into my life through the Art of Living. Grateful to everyone who made it possible for me to be on the course, including Simon, whose unshakable support and love are so precious. Grateful to all the people and things which enable me to take time out like this to care for myself so that I can be the best, most stress-free and happy version of myself possible … and in that be a better mamma. Truly blessed and most humbled. Jai Gurudev!
P.S. Doing the Art of Silence Course turned out to be a very unselfish thing to do after all. It’s only by prioritising taking care of myself that I’m able to take better care of my family. Go on mammas and daddas … get onto it.
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