Last Monday, my nephew celebrated his 5th birthday. I have no problem telling you, I was on the fence about whether or not I liked kids until my brother called me six years ago to tell me I was going to be an aunt. Ever since his birth, I have been totally sucked in. All the clichés I didn’t get about “children are miracles” that made me gag as a young person have totally made sense since Noah entered my life. Even though he is not my child, I have had the pleasure of experiencing him on a more than peripheral level, and on the 5th anniversary of his birth, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between our developmental journey over the last 5 years.
The first time I touched my nephew, I was terrified I would break him. He was so tiny and fragile (at a normal birthweight), and I felt scared and inexperienced. He could hardly move. He was a mere blob of gooey cuteness that resembled my brother and his wife only slightly, while mostly looking like a chewed up piece of bubble gum.
As my nephew grew, my brother and sister in law took many videos of his development, and here’s where things got really interesting. In the age of YouTube and Facebook, you can actually watch people grow. In real time. You’ve seen the 2 minute videos of babies turning into young women, and trees changing in a year within the span of a minute. It’s a gift. It’s amazing. And there’s almost no way you can watch one of these things without being astounded by progress and development. The unfortunate side of living in this instant gratification age is our inability to allow, and yield, and stay with. We are more impatient than ever, wanting things to work out quickly, and perfectly. Workouts, diets, careers, relationships- we all want the buffering and loading to be done faster than is possible, so we can find our stimulation and gratification. Watching a child develop has humbled me as I am reminded of the importance of PROCESS.
As a Yoga teacher and movement educator, I’m at the beginning of my understanding of all the coordination required to begin moving. I’m interested in human development from a physical and psychological perspective, and studying Body-Mind Centering has piqued my interest in continuing to study the correlation of the two. For those of you non-Geeks, I’ll give you a quick run down of BMC as I understand it. It is a dynamic practice of embodiment and was developed by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, who was a dancer and physical therapist. She suffered from Polio, which made her housebound and immobile. In that time, she became interested in how to find movement again when she could no longer access her usual patterns. She began sensing, feeling, and re-patterning. This became her life’s work, and she now teaches movement experts, Yoga teachers, and therapists how to do the same. My teacher Amy Matthews is a student of Bonnie’s and teacher of Body Mind Centering*. She is brilliant. This work is brilliant.
But what does this have to do with giving up? I’ll allow my nephew to demonstrate. Below is a video of my nephew taking some of his first steps. It’s pretty cool. My sister in law can be heard coaching him. She is an amazing mother and movement educator and Occupational Therapist. Watch him work this out:
Ok. So. Can I first note the question his mother asks? There is no greater question when faced with an obstacle. “What could you do differently?” Making new and different choices is the key to evolving. When something isn’t going your way, you must try a different pathway, and explore it with an open mind. Check out her awesomeness, as she ALLOWS him to figure it out for himself. She could have easily picked him up and placed him on his feet. She didn’t. She ALLOWed him to process. This means he genuinely and authentically was able to find his own way. It means he will have a stronger connection to his own sense of movement, because he’s used to initiating it himself. Great parenting.
What about my nephew? Had he been older and more conscious, as we are, he could create a host of excuses why standing is too difficult.
“I’ve never done it before”
“Someone will come along and pick me up”
But he doesn’t use those excuses. And he doesn’t cry. He gets frustrated, pushes himself away, then listens to his coach, takes a breath, and tries a new approach. In life, we must be both operating parties in our journey toward an achievement or new plateau. We must be the ego- the driven one, the one with fire in their heart, the one who insists on getting back up and muscling and grunting, and trying harder and again. But we must also be the Self- the mother, the nurturer, the wisdom, the voice that encourages and is delighted in watching the process.
This is what Yoga is. This is what development is.
Babies are born everyday. Everyday a baby learns to walk or stand. It’s commonplace. But’s it’s also miraculous. Babies are living proof that MIRACLES are COMMON. If you’re reading this, chances are, you’ve performed this and several other miracles in your life. You’ve learned to eat, stand, walk, run, talk, sing, read, play an instrument, and God knows what else. Who’s to say you couldn’t overcome whatever obstacle is before you by simply trying a new approach, or summoning your inner teacher? We could all ask ourselves what to do differently, and ALLOW and delight in the process. It’s so much more fun to stand up on your own after a good hard struggle and learning experience. With the proper support, we can go confidently and eagerly forward. And when we learn to stand, we can celebrate, cup in hand, and do a rhythmic dance on the bath tub.
*I’m really oversimplifying Bonnie and her work. For more information, go to: www.bodymindcentering.com