Beyond the Mat

Sometimes my practice has nothing to do with Pilates.  Or does it?  The practice of taking the time to simply breath and ‘be’ seeps in everywhere.  If I let it.  It may even allow a mother the opportunity to teach her toddler about spirituality.

I recently started seeing a Spiritual Advisor, who has told me that she more adequately describes herself as a Spiritual Companion.  More on that in another post. I’ll just summarize that even though I was brought up with religion my entire life, I feel my spiritual life needs some, well, guidance.  In preparing for meeting with her this month, I was musing on the idea of how one teaches spirituality to a child. What does that look like? The conversation was an insightful one and as life would happen I had an opportunity to practice. An opportunity I was not expecting.

Earlier this week my son and I were sitting outside eating breakfast.  I had pulled the cover off our outdoor loveseat, so we were sitting side by side under the large umbrella where our bottlebrush tree used to be.  Somehow our conversation came to that very bottlebrush tree that we took out this past summer. My son had seen the removal from behind the sliding glass door and often talks about the tree trimmers coming and cutting it down.  In fact, as of late he likes pretending that the tree trimmers are here cutting another tree down. (Loud noises + tools = exciting.) I thought that this was where the conversation was going but instead that little one stammered, “I liked the bottlebrush tree.” Then with the corners of his mouth down and a few big tears in his eyes he looked up at me and asked, “Can we ask the tree trimmers to bring it back?” “Oh sweetie.” I said “Do you need a hug?” And through a few more quiet tears he nodded yes.  I scooped him up and hugged him, never minding the oatmeal from his bib now smooshed on my sweater. It was a long heavy hug, and as I held him close I took a few deep breaths. I asked myself, what does my child need right now? How can I both validate his feelings but help him turn sadness into another emotion? Would I explain how the tree made such a huge mess that is why we decided to take it down? Should I say trees come and go and he just needs to deal? No, neither of those felt right.

We were still hugging. I waited till he lifted his head up. He wiggled down.  “You know what?” I asked. He looked at me and shook his head. “The tree is still with us,” I said in an almost whisper. “See that bark?” I pointed to a large patch of bark on his right that is amply scattered under our persimmon trees.  He nodded his head yes. “And see that bark?” I pointed to the long patch on his left that is under our apricot, peach, nectarine and fig trees. “You see…when the tree trimmers took the tree down, they reused the bark. They broke it up into tiny pieces and spread it around so we could enjoy fresh bark under the shade of our trees to help the roots grow and the fruit trees stay healthy.” He brightened up a little. “And remember all those bees in the tree?” I asked. “Yes.” he replied. “Those bees flew to the front of the house and found the beautiful lavender and now are helping our lavender grow. Haven’t you noticed more bees there?” He nodded again. “What else mama?” he asked, now with a smile on his face.  “The birds!” I exclaimed in a slightly louder voice. “They were happy to fly to new homes and meet other birds and explore places they would have not otherwise seen.” “Ya!” he shouted, with a full smile on his face. “Do you feel better?” I asked softly. He said yes and I gave him another squeeze. “You see, sometimes things just change shape, but they are often still with us. We just have to look for it.”

It had gotten sunny where we were sitting and the umbrella was no longer shading us.  “Should we go finish our breakfast at your little table?” “Yes, mama!” and he ran off to sit down under our patio.  I picked up his bowl of mush and covered the loveseat. I stared at the spot where we were just sitting. I took a deep breath again.  Introducing the idea of loss was hard, but acknowledging his feelings was good. I missed the tree, too. That being said, I am so grateful it provided me an opportunity – the chance to be present with my son and teach him a little something about universality and connection.  About a cycle of life, a bigger picture and a way to turn sadness into hope. In essence, about spirituality.

In health, wellness and spirit,