I went back to yoga about a month after Henry was born. I happened to go to a candle-lit yoga-meditation class, and it was incredibly powerful.
So every Thursday, I would go out into the cold dark to go to class. Some nights there was music, some only silence. Lights were dim and eventually out except for the dancing light of candles about the room. We breathed, we sat, we did poses, we rested, we sat some more. I repeated the mantra "heart, heal, hope" or I used the mantra our teach gave us for the day. I relaxed. I even loosened the tight, protective grip on my tender, broken heart.
At the end of that first class, I wept.
It was not the only time.
Meditation had a way of moving things within me, not thoughts, but pure emotion, powerful energy that welled up from within me, unsticking where I didn't know I was stuck. Some nights I left peaceful, others worn out. It was an important part of my grieving work. I miss it.
Since Kathleen's birth, I have had no time for yoga classes, no time to sit on a cushion or mat, little time to be in quiet, little time to focus. I tried to carve out time after Kathleen went to bed to sit for bit, to breathe deeply, to quiet and center myself, but most nights I was too tired.
So I started doing rocking meditation. When I sit to put Kathleen to bed, I begin caught up in the end of the day. I am frustrated by and tired from late afternoon fussiness. My mind runs over the list of things that didn't get done, races ahead to the work I must do, gets impatient about my dinner yet to be eaten. I feel the tension in my own body as I try to soothe and settle her. Deep breaths. In slowly, out slowly. Let go. Little by little, I relax.
The room is dark and I can only see her outline, but I can smell her clean baby smell. I feel her whispery soft hair against my cheek as I rest my head on hers. I hear her soft breathing punctuated by a whimper here or there. I feel her warmth and heft on my lap, feel her stop fighting against me, stop fidgeting, go limp into sleep. And still I sit and breathe and hold her while I can. I am no longer looking back at the day that is ending or ahead at what I have yet to do before I climb into bed. I am simply here, quiet, still, with my girl. I am present in this moment, aware of her and me and the comfortable fit of her body in my lap.
Eventually, I try to carefully place her in the crib. I step out of her room into the bright light. I squint and stumble down stairs to make dinner and clean bottles and settle into work. But I carry a calmness with me, a quietness that was not there before.
Someday, I will go back to the candle-lit class. I will enjoy the energy of being in a room with others practicing. I will see what my mind and body do when I have an hour just for me. But for now, this is my new meditation.