wish for a solid night's sleep; more nurturing themselves; more time on their own; more time with grown ups rather than one syllable talkers; not to have to cook so much; more socialising; a bit of entertainment escapism; a change of scenery. In extreme cases, the pressure of motherhood's indenture even causes recurring thoughts of being single and carefree again. Left unattended, such thoughts can develop into depression and deep motherhood dissatisfaction.
So how can these frustrations best be re-lieved? Well, one obvious solution is to indulge oneself in those very things the mind and heart desires, and that has no doubt been the pattern for many women. Does it help? Sometimes yes, sometimes no! Of course a mother's needs for nurturing and variation of experience should be satisfied but always in a manner which truly helps her and does not disadvantage her baby. It is mainly a matter of awareness. For example, to satisfy a desire for freedom, a mother may unwittingly and habitually go out just for the sake of going out, taking her baby along with her or leaving it to be minded for the occasion. And yet this is unlikely to provide any resolution
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because the root cause has not been addressed. Next week the same syndrome will arise. So what is a better approach?
As well as creating some quality time for herself, through self reflection she must build greater contentment in her present role by discarding not only old models of lifestyle which are not (at present) appropriate, but also the concepts that she is restrained from fully expressing herself.
For what is freedom? We usually think of freedom as the ability to physically do what we want, when we want it, but that is a very gross form. We have all heard the inspiring stories of great masters, renunciates, and prisoners of conscience who declare that although their physical life is limited in some way their spirit is still free. And although this may sound like an implausible solution to the mundane restrictions of motherhood, through meditation we can find that level of understanding and experience beyond the physical reality. In many ways, and like those who have suffered severe imprison-ment, we too can use the lessons of pregnancy, birthing and motherhood as a springboard into a new reality of true inner freedom.
Whilst not having anything specific to say about the day to day basics of "how to mother", the traditions of yoga and tantra teach that all endeavours in life should be attempted with a focus on the highest spiritual outcomes for ourselves and others. In terms of mothering, this indicates that a mother should use her conception, pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing as a means towards the spiritual growth of herself and her child. Yoga and tantra, as can be practised in everyday life, need exclude no-one in any station of life.
Motherhood is an opportunity for frequent meditation upon the meaning and purpose of procreation and evolution. This is a most profound topic and one which all the spiritual traditions say we should devote ourselves to whenever possible. Formally this can be done sitting in a meditation session, but more accessibly for the busy mother, each breastfeed-ing session can be put to this same purpose, as can times of just sitting and watching your children play and express themselves. Through conception, pregnancy, childbirth and parenting we are brought into a relationship with our
children in the most intimate way known in nature. This relationship can be a doorway to something beyond, something sublime, something transcendental. The time honoured way of achieving that is through sadhana.
In the literal sense, the term sadhana is defined as one's efforts towards self transcen-dence and God-realisation. Traditionally, this was meant as the time one spent in formal meditation - hours and days and weeks and years of solitude spent in seclusion and austerity. Historically this way was reserved for the single men, and then for elderly couples in the retirement years of their life. In more broad terms, sadhana is nowadays used by householders to mean their daily time of yoga practise - any routine of postures, breathing, relaxation or meditation - which may be anything from 10 minutes to several hours a day. A third interpretation of sadhana is all the normal daily activities one does, but only if each and every action is done with the same awareness and purpose as the ascetic God-contemplator and the time-limited yoga practitioner. In this way one's life becomes a sadhana of Karma Yoga.