The Gift of Mothering

hey diddle diddle…

Sunday was Mother’s Day and…I did a lot of mothering. It just turned out that way. Some things went down (no trouble, just life) and presence is what was required. ⁣

⁣A lot of what I do as a mother is that I am present. I am available. I listen…as best I can. Turns out I’m so easily distractible! I use the other’s face and sound of voice as dristi/focus points and keep coming back. Compassion is a helpful motivator. ⁣

When I have thoughts or perspective I try to offer them in a respectful way that is translatable. At the right time. To help navigate. Sometimes I do this better than others. Yet more than anything I am just here. ⁣

Parenting in a pandemic is hard. There is a lot to face and continuous hard choices to make. Kids and young adults want to be with their friends and from what we have been told so far they are likely not at high risk. ⁣

Yet their lives that are just beginning are being seemingly derailed to keep safe the elders, many of whom have already lived long lives, and the immune compromised…like myself.

There are conflicting motivations for sure, and most of what we are going on is speculation at this point. It’s hard to make choices in this climate and then have to live with whatever that brings. Once again, always true. Yet accentuated. ⁣

Late high school and college age kids are deciding if they want to sign up for major debt while trying to plan their future when nothing seems clear. We just paid for likely the highest priced online schooling so far in history while having the highly anticipated freshman year experience cut off with no warning after moving cross country together to make it happen! Each of us has our own unique story…⁣

These kids have worked so hard doing what they have been told they have to do only to have the rules change at the last moment. I suppose we are all experiencing this but it is really accentuated for the upcoming generations about to step into the world as adults on their own. ⁣

Although there is this…they have experienced the old way and yet are not already as ingrained in their life path. Perhaps they can more easily adapt to life as it presents going forward. Without the same preconceptions of how things are supposed to or have to be. They can help evolve the old to meet the new. ⁣

This is what I will encourage. ⁣

In myself, my child and whoever else I encounter. Whether the new way is full of roadblocks, newfound possibilities, or both. We may not be able to recreate the future in the image of the past, we will have to adapt. Yet the more seamlessly we can do this with fresh, open eyes the more likely we are to succeed in the new environment. ⁣

Perhaps this is post covid parenting. Expectation, entitlement and arrogance will only get in the way. We have to keep adapting as quickly as the world around us. Once again, this is not new, but even more so. ⁣

It seems…people want accolades and congratulatory pampering about their parenting. It is helpful to support the caregivers, yet remember, mother’s day was at least in part developed as a consumer holiday with a political agenda. Every day can be appreciation day! Yet that’s not why I parent.⁣

While I sure could use a massage or a delicious meal I didn’t make myself sometimes, the real gift I receive is the parenting itself…learning how to adapt and meet my child and a situation right where they are. Not in the way I think I want things to be. As they are. And respond to that.

When I stop fighting or forcing I can better see what we have to work with. I see my child as a being with needs that are trying to express…and I can help or hinder that.⁣

For being a mother…is really about mothering. It is something you give. The potential-yet-not-guaranteed reward is the connection, and your child. You give without knowing what, if anything, you’re going to get. In my case, I have given a lot. And been given back so so very much. Not always what I thought or expected, and sometimes so far beyond what I could have imagined.

It’s not for everyone, parenting, and at times seems not for me! Yet once you’re in it there is no easy out. We adapt or we suffer. And we pass that on.

Once again, this is not new. But accentuated. ⁣

We are all presented with this opportunity right now – evolve together or get stuck trying to force things to be some preconceived way. In parenting and in this post covid world. Same thing, accentuated.⁣

I…am going to keep trying to meet things with fresh, open eyes, and continuously, consciously adapt to the situation as it presents itself. I don’t already know better, I am learning as I go.⁣

In life and parenting.⁣

This is my precious Mother’s Day gift.⁣

♥️

Gayatri Mantra

Om Bhur Bhuvaḥ Swaḥ

Tat-savitur Vareñyaṃ

Bhargo Devasya Dhīmahi

Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayāt

ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः

तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं

भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि

धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्

Gratefully dilating open to allow the all pervasive radiant light beyond individual form to shine through.

Dissipating the veils, pixelating the solidity of the forms, clearing the lenses that block us from wisdom, from experiencing the continuum of the infinite.

(current transliteration and experience of the moment)

Framing

Thoughts upon awakening:

.

I do not want to allow challenges from the past to negatively define how I envision my potential moving forward. I want to utilize the perspective and wisdom I learn through all my experiences to inspire me to be adaptive and resilient, to inform me of ways I can continue to grow with discernment, empathy and grace.

.

How we perceive things is greatly dependent upon the frame we see it through.

.

Every experience relevant, a springboard for the alchemy of transformation.

.

Planting seeds, observing how they grow, refining as I go.

Turiya Yoga Spontaneous Movement and Dance Meditation at Unifier Festival 2016

Photo Jul 24, 5 53 00 PM

Unifier Transformational Healing & Expressive Arts Festival
Camp Timber Trails, Tolland, MA
June 17-20, 2016

In this workshop we will utilize guided meditative yoga, mindfulness movement exercises and spontaneous freeform dance meditation as experiential metaphor for resetting unconscious yet familiar patterns; in the way we approach our yoga practice, in the way we move when we dance and in how we relate to the unique circumstances of our lives. Noticing how the forces of momentum, conditioned habits, preconceptions, our own will, each other, the environment around us and even the music direct our movement, we will experiment with consciously unhooking ourselves from following this momentum. In the space of the pause we can potentially tap into the experiencing witness state of turiya, pure aware consciousness underlying all other states of consciousness – the silence ever-present behind the sound, the spaciousness inside our form and the stillness of each moment within the movement – and allow fresh insight and creative possibilities to arise. Instead of repeating pattern or even identifying as the “dancer” and moving by our own will alone, the dance takes form through us. Informed yet not defined, limited or controlled by everything we have experienced so far in our lives.
All levels welcome, no prior experience necessary. I will offer variations to suit every body.

Accompanied with live improvisational sound and music by Kālidāsa Joseph Getter.

For more information go to deniseporterkemp.com/events/tandava/

Denise Porter Kemp makes yoga practice accessible to the uniqueness of every body while expressing the deeper teachings of yoga through the experiential practice of the physical form. Based in the forests of New Hampshire, she brings her traveling yoga school ~ Turiya Yoga ~ to private homes, offices at lunchtime, ski mountains, addiction recovery centers, yoga studios and music festivals all along the east coast. Certified at the 500 hour level in the Shakti Flow Vinyasa style of yoga by Asa Dustin of At OM Yoga, Level 1 in Thai Yoga by Shai Plonski of Still Light Center and initiated into the Kaula lineage of Kashmir Shaivism by Parvathi Nanda Nath Saraswati, Denise has studied with many teachers and learns from everyone who comes her way. She has been teaching yoga since 2005 and offering Thai Yoga since 2011.

~ body geometry, pure aware consciousness ~
deniseporterkemp.com

Kālidāsa Joseph Getter is a creative world musician whose transcendent sounds awaken the mind and open the heart. He leads kirtan sessions, composes and performs for dance and theater, crafts soundscapes for yoga, and plays experimental and free improvisation music. Kālidāsa is a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, specializing in the bamboo flute of South India and gamelan music of Java. He is on the faculty of several music schools, leads the Wesleyan Youth Gamelan program, and is music director for ArtFarm theater of Middletown, Connecticut.

https://www.facebook.com/kalidasakirtan

Just Enough and Not Too Much

I am generally not into slogans, although there is a Buddhist one I have heard that I think of a lot – just enough and not too much. It is kind of a Goldilocks approach to life 🙂
Practicing yoga helps me experiment with this balance on a physical, experiential level, balancing how much weight forward, how much back, where do I lift from, where do I contract, when I shift one aspect of the posture how does that affect the rest, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some of it is mental, I remember the ways I have played with the posture before and cues other teachers and students have suggested to me, yet it is not only a mental thinking it out. It includes body memory and develops an awareness beyond just the thinking of the mind, beyond just the discursive thought or continuous defining of the mind, it becomes a direct felt experience of the balance that integrates and grows with me.
I am also finding this true with my experience of the continuous learning curve of skiing and snowboarding, dynamic practices of the subtleties of the shifts of weight and posture responding to the shape of the skis or board, the texture of the snow and the contours of the mountain. The practice of yoga does help support the sport in that it can be cross training to warm up and bring awareness into the body and center the mind before going on the mountain and decompressing to unwind tension, reduce soreness and recovery time and prepare the body for the next day. Yet there is also potential for utilizing yoga to refine sensitivity to the effects of stance and the subtle shift of weight in any posture and especially in ones that directly inform the body of movements used in skiing and riding, teaching our bodies how to efficiently perform these movements and giving ourself practice both on and off the hill. Perhaps beginning with mental inquiry and developing into experiential wisdom.
When I ski and ride it is very much a physical yoga practice in that I start with a variety of cues in myself that gradually build – just enough and not too much, a little bit of this and a little bit of that – until it all flows together and I am not thinking out the skiing, all my awarenesses are coming together and the skiing is happening right through me. It is kind of a sahaja approach to life, the sahaja the purely spontaneous being who has trained their body and mind to instead of compulsively react to phenomena, appropriately respond to the specifics of each situation. In the case of your sport or your art this plays out as learning and practicing the form first so then the creativity can unfold and grow through that structure. If you never learned some of the building blocks, through a teacher and/or your own mindful practice, in snowsports you’d likely just fall down the hill. Yet with practice and experiential awareness of your posture, how to read the terrain and the conditions and how subtle shifts of weight drive the edges of your equipment, the falling down the hill can become a graceful and efficient dance of balance. Just enough and not too much.
This is what I am currently into 🙂 If you’d like to play with me with it come to The Mountain Club on Loon at Loon Mountain Resort on Sunday March 13, 2016 for Yoga and Snowsports as Movement Meditation 3/13/16 or be in touch and we can do a private with snowsports or just physical yoga – and develop a practice to support whatever sport or art you are currently into.
Love

catalyst

For me, snowboarding is physical yoga practice, asana ~ moving meditation, becoming comfortable and articulate in my body and in relation with the physical world. As I ride I gradually tune in to the subtleties of my movement, awakening presence in my entire body. I don’t have to try so much anymore, it just starts to happen. The movement becomes efficient, somewhat effortless. Grounded in my body, I become aware not only of my body, but with my body ~ my movement responding to the contours of the mountain, the crisp scent of the air and the temperature on my skin, the sounds of my board against the texture of the snow and the wind all around me. Everything becomes more vibrant. There’s nowhere to go and nothing else to do but to be right here, completely open to the moment. It refreshes me, brings me back to center.
I used to get pretty sad at the end of the season, as I thought I depended on this activity to do all this for me. Without it I would feel flat, empty, dull…or so I feared. Through time I realize that these activities that have the potential to revitalize us and bring us spontaneously into the moment remind us that this is possible. We don’t have to become attached to the catalyst, there are many ways to do it. Breathe in, feel yourself in your entire body. Hear the sounds. Right now.
I will miss you, my beloved mountain, my mermaid~tail serpentine snow dance. Another season has come and is passing and I have again learned so much from you.
Until the next time we meet dear friend, the love I tap into when I’m with you lives inside of me.
(yeah, yeah I know kinda sappy. And I mean it  🙂 )

loony 017

Vernal Equinox Yoga and Snowshoe Meditation Retreat in the White Mountains

Spring in the White Mountains

Spring in the White Mountains

The word yoga has the same root as yoke, meaning the yoking together of polar opposites as two sides of the same thing. Holding both extremes and the continuum between, balanced at the center.

The vernal, or spring, equinox, balanced precisely between the Winter and Summer Solstices, is typically the turning point weather wise as we begin to experience the effects of the shifting, as daylight becomes equal to nighttime and the still and silent winter woods are being balanced by the warmth and awakening of spring melt.

Come experience the extremes simultaneously on this pinnacle day, balanced right at the center. The winter woodlands opening up with a celebration of the sounds and signs of spring.

http://deniseporterkemp.com/events–snowshoe.html

frame ~ another everyday metaphor

I have a potted plant living in my living room that is at least 30 years old. It belonged to my mother-in-law Mary Atala and to her mother Atala Mary before her. It came to me when my son was around two, so about 11 years ago.

When I lived in Salisbury, New Hampshire, it sat in a big window overlooking forests, mountains, fields and the Blackwater River, where we would swim in the summer and build extreme snow tube tracks and cross country ski in the winter. In front of this plant and this window is where I practiced yoga passionately and dedicatedly as often as possible when I first started teaching. The plant grew a really long tendril that spanned the length of the window that ran the length of the long room that used to be the top level of a chicken coop barn at some point in its incarnation.

The tendril across my window in Salisbury

The tendril across my window in Salisbury

When we moved from that room and that valley into Concord, I repotted the plant and it became huge, several tendrils winding their way across three of the four yellow walls that are my current living room.

In this video, the second long tendril winds across the backdrop…

Not too long ago, most of the leaves along the original tendril from Salisbury began to yellow and wither and die. All except the leaves at the very end. I pulled the dead leaves off, which left an empty tendril all across the main wall of the room where my son Philip and I hang out together, and where I practice and teach yoga now. I wanted to cut it and put the living end in a jar of water to grow new roots, and then replant it so the part that was alive could still grow. Yet I was having trouble letting go of the stem, and that the leaves that looked like they were still living beautifully graced the bay window of the room. So there it sat, dying stem plastered across my wall, me too attached to let go of it.

Philip likes to play indoor mini basketball in this room, and yesterday while he was playing I heard an, “Uh oh” and then silence. I called from my bedroom, “Are you okay?” And he responded, “I broke the plant.” I could hear he was sorry, and afraid I was going to be angry. For a brief second I was. And then I felt a rush of such relief.

He said, “The ball hit the stem and it was like a dried branch. Mom, it was already dead. It just broke off.”

Which was true. By not letting go of this that was obviously passing, the part that was still alive and hanging in my front window looking vibrant and beautiful was slowly dying too. I just hadn’t noticed it yet ~ because I didn’t want to. Partially because I was afraid of the change. And so the vine was inadvertently severed for me.

We cut the rest loose, untangled the dead stem and made it into a cat toy. I put the part that was still living into a jar of water where it will make new roots, and twisted the tip of the tendril that was left across the doorway where it currently hangs. For now.

now

now

I love just watching it grow, witnessing what might happen next.

ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् ।
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात् ।।

Aum tryambakam yajāmahe sugandhim puṣṭi-vardhanam ǀ
urvārukam-iva bandhanān mṛtyormukṣīya māmṛtāt ǁ

Mahamrityunjaya mantra, a prayer of protection and surrender, to remind us when we are trying to hold onto something that is passing…
What it means to me…may we be released from our attachments, when we are ready, like the cucumber is released from the vine, without scar, when it is ripe.
The protection – may we be held by what nourishes us until it is our time to be let go.
The surrender – once we are let go there is no reattaching. When it is our time, may we have the grace and courage to let go.
One thing transforms into the next.

https://deniseporterkemp.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/mahamrityunjaya/

https://deniseporterkemp.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/everyday-metaphor/

Everyday Metaphor

I took a botany class a long time ago, and a class on growing orchids. I loved the classes and was doing well. The orchids lived under grow lights in my living room and were beautiful. I pampered them constantly. I fancied myself an aspiring botanist.

There was a local scholarship contest, and everyone in the class wrote proposals on what we would do with the money if we won. Looking back, I have no idea what I wrote. But I won. Then those of us who were chosen had to go before a committee to speak about our ideas, and the committee would decide how much each of us would receive.

I was super nervous. I could write but I was scared of people. That they wouldn’t like me. What I had written was authentically me, yet when I went before the committee I tried to be what I thought they wanted. I wore makeup and a skirt from my mom. I wore small heels which I never wore and probably walked funny. For a botany scholarship in San Francisco. None of these women were like that, they were more like me. Yet I bumbled and was awkward. And was not awarded any scholarship funds.

I felt humiliated. The orchids became covered in spiderwebs. I quit botany. Just like that. I felt it was obvious that this was not meant to be.

This past Mother’s Day, last year, I was gifted an orchid in full bloom. It was beautiful and I was grateful. It reminded me of that girl who loved orchids, and botany. Yet I was busy and forgot to water it for the most part. Even so, the flowers stayed for a long time. I never pruned the stems after the flowers passed, which I think I was supposed to do. It has been sitting in my windowsill, and I water it from time to time. I figured it wouldn’t make it.

The other day, when I remembered to water my oh-so-resilient plants, I noticed there was a small bud on one of the orchid stems. I wondered if it was left over from before and I hadn’t noticed it? I watered it by taking it out of its pot and letting warmish water run through the roots. Then put it back on the windowsill.

This morning I happened to look over at the orchid…

IMG_20140304_095934

Don’t give up. Seeds are being planted your whole life through. Sometimes it takes awhile for them to grow. And often they unfold differently than you imagined, and at the most unsuspecting of times.