After we moved to Rhode Island seven months ago, there were days when I could not stop sobbing (and if you’ve been reading these letters for a bit, you know how hard this move has been for me). Sure, I would find moments of joy staring out into Narragansett Bay and watching Bodhi throw seashells into the water. But, I was surprised to feel supreme sadness about the move. I didn’t feel like I was moving towards something, but rather away from so much that I loved in central Pennsylvania (and, wow, I never thought I would say that!).
I was scared that Bodhi would pick up on my emotions. So, I hid them. I would cry behind closed doors, shielding my tears from him and my husband until I couldn’t hide anymore and then would explode with sobbing all over again. I would try and validate how “great” this place is (the beaches! the food! New England!), which was actually invalidating where I was/am at right now, which is sometimes pretty sad. And, that’s not what I want my son to learn to do.
I want him to feel his emotions wherever he is.
I want him to know that feelings and emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are.
I want him to know that he does not need to guard his feelings to protect those around him.
I want him to get curious with his feelings, to give them space.
I want him to know that even though he feels something, that doesn’t mean he IS that thing.
I’ve been getting curious with how I’m feeling as a result of this big move in my life, including the transition of selling/closing my studio to focus on yoga therapy (to support mamas and families like yours!). I’m learning to question when I stopped giving my emotions space for fear that those feelings would “harm” or make others feel uncomfortable. So now I say, feel what you feel. Write it down. Move it out of your body in a yoga practice or long walk. Talk about it with a friend or trusted therapist (talk, yoga, etc.). Meditate to get still and allow those feelings to show up. [Also side note: JUST because you are sad, that does not mean a) you are depressed or b) that you cannot also experience joy. However, if you think you may have depression, please see a trusted care provider].
And, at first that is SCARY. It’s scary to acknowledge where you are, especially if it’s a hard place. For example, if your birth was traumatic, then embrace where you are, what you feel. Try not to think, “but I’m healthy or my baby is healthy.” If you’re not sleeping at night, try not to say “but at least she’s nursing so well.” If you’re having a tough time in the transition to working motherhood and you ache for days with your child, don’t say “but at least I have a job.” It’s okay to sit with your emotions, even better to embrace the discomfort for a bit.
Why? First, experiencing a feeling in the moment is crucial towards actually finding your way back to a more peaceful place. Feel it now, rather than bottle it up and explode later. My very favorite acupuncturists, therapist, and yoga teacher all share this thought.
Second, when you validate your own feelings and emotions, you allow your baby or toddler to do the same. You let them cry when they need to, have tantrums when they need to, be held when they need to. They learn to embrace their emotions rather than label them as “good” or “bad.” And, babies and toddlers do this so naturally - Bodhi would wail for hours in my arms at night before finally sleeping. That was him processing his day the only way he knew how, and the crying wasn’t “bad.” He has tantrums when I don’t give into a “cereal cup,” which is a real treat in our house. He explodes with joy and yelling when he runs in circles outside. That’s fine. Feel it, move it out, embrace it all.
I realize that this letter is super deep, and could write so much more on the topic. In fact, I probably will because this process of leaning into feelings and seeing how they show up as emotions has largely informed my work so far in yoga therapy and sleep consulting. And, at first there is discomfort when something shows up that isn’t so shiny. It’s okay. You’re still okay. You’re still amazing.
I would love to hear your thoughts. First, take a moment to ask if you allow yourself to feel the whole range of emotions. What comes up there? What are you feeling right now? Second, how do you react to your baby or toddler’s stronger emotions? Does an emotion trigger something in you? What do you say? There is no right or wrong or judgement here, just continuing awareness. Promise.
How can you give your feelings and emotions some attention and curiosity? Is that uncomfortable? Write to me! I’d love to hear from you.
P.S. I’ll be taking a pause for the next month to really honor the many recent happenings - leading a teacher training and its graduation, selling/closing the studio, and finally settling in a little more to Rhode Island (I’m not sure I’m embracing it yet, but I’ll give it a go wink wink). I also want to get clearer on how Yoga Dear Mama is shaping, informing, and growing, and I’m really excited to share that with you. There are so many thoughts up in my head begging to be jotted down and considered. Talk to you soon. <3