Taming the Back to School Tornado
It's back to school week and it feels like a tornado hit our house. It doesn't matter how prepared you think you are, the kids go from barefoot, lazy days to 7 hours sitting still, and their little bodies rebel. My 6 year old just started the long school day and we've been avoiding him like a drunk in the house. There's really nothing we can do but feed him a solid meal and guide him to bed before he hurts himself or others.
My orderly kitchen went from stocked to barren as the kids ate through everything in the house in search of brain fuel. I am passing out at work today, realizing that in feeding my young, growing children, I forgot to eat or pack my own lunch. It's Friday and my social calendar needs to be cleared to accommodate a family movie on the couch where we all pass out in a yoga pile of limbs and snores.
If this week sounds familiar, then you may know a bit about wind energy. It's called Vata in Ayurveda, the Indian alternative medicine with deep historical roots. Ayurveda divides the constitutions of the body into 3 distinct doshas or elements that are basically earth, wind and fire. There is Vata, the wind constitution which dominates energy in the body. It can be felt as graceful movement in the body when balanced by deep breathing and grounded energy.
However, Vata can feel very out of balance when our energy is disturbed with stress, shallow breathing, and constant change. We may feel like an "air head" or a "hot head" as the wind energy in the body is spinning out of control.
If this is how your house felt this week, it may help you and your family to drive your windy energy into the two other elements. Pitta is the fire dosha, known as our burning drive and can be imagined as the sun energy in your solar plexus or a strong inner fire.
When Vata is out of balance, and your energy feels like it's blowing in circles, try to drive your energy like bellowing a fire into a direct path. Use your inner fire to go for a run, a walk, or a swim. Go through a simple yoga series, or find a meditative movement that you can repeat over and over until your breath and body begin to feel coordinated and aligned.
Vata's need consistency, rhythm, cadence and movements that help us flow into a straight path. Picture imbalances in Vata or wind energy as a handful of rubber bands, elastic and with great purpose, but all in the wrong direction. Now imagine Pitta, the fire energy as taking those rubber bands one by one and carefully wrapping them around your wrist. Once you have a solid row of concentric circles, you can see your "energy" flowing in the same direction.
It's also like your child temper tantrumming all over the floor, melting down after the first week back to school. Yet, get them on a swing at the park or watch them hit a trampoline and bounce into a rhythm that defies adult logic. Where does all of that energy come from? Heaven knows, but the best way to manage chaotic energy is to bring it into a rhythmic meditation like jumping.
The final dosha is Kapha, and what I lovingly call mud. Kapha is the heavy, grounded energy that slows us down and can feel like a "stick in the mud." Kapha people tend to take their time, remain very loyal, and resist change. They make the best friends. We can harness the good, grounded energy of Kapha to help us with our windy week by slowing down, and staying true to the rhythmic meditation that we have set out for ourself.
Take that child on the trampoline, that I bet has forgotten all about the temper tantrum. When they tire from jumping, ask them to continue at the same pace and jump more. When they can not breath or jump anymore, ask them to lie down on their back and feel how high their tummy lifts when they inhale and how low it can flatten when they exhale. Now they are still; that was the desired effect from the temper tantrum, right? See how naturally it came through this progression.
For an adult, find a cadence in your routine. When your week is spinning out of control, find that one thing you know works for you, a run, a walk with a friend, a swim, or a yoga class. Get into your flow with deep breathing and a strong fire to align your energy on a single path towards a single goal. After that goal is reached, you should feel ready to slow down, sit down, close your eyes, and breathe in a grounded Kapha state.
Feel the breath become the wind of energy thats stirring in your mind. If it's still tangled like that handful of rubber bands, focus on untangling one at a time. Breathe in and mentally grab a single rubber band, exhale and mentally wrap it around your wrist. Those windy thoughts will be there in perfect order, no longer wrecking around your head like a tornado. When all of the thoughts are collected on your wrist, mentally take them off, place them on the floor, and walk away.
I hope you find a grounded energy soon. I apologize for sending this blog out a day late. Clearly the tornado in our own home resulted in the delay. Instead of staying up last night after back to school night and burning the candle at both ends, I decided to sleep and finish up the blog today.
Better late than never...
Thank you for your understanding and support, it's what makes our community so strong. I see through your crazy hectic week with those barely held back tears and those deer in the headlight eyes, to that beautiful person inside. As they would say in the Ayurvedic tradition, namaste, which means the light in me sees the light in you.