OH Breath OH Heart

Ishvara Pranidhana in the Tantrum

1.23 ईष्वरप्रणिधानाद वा


Last night my son had a tantrum. He has them somewhat regularly. Sometimes they are short and last for just a moment, sometimes they last for ten minutes and then carry over to color the day. 

Now, as his mother I feel pulled to defend him right away. He’s a beautiful boy in so many ways and people generally have a sweet spot for him. He is in love with animals, drawing, food, the earth, adventures. To top it off, he’s an empath and often worries about someone who looks sad or is left out.

But certain life changes may be contributing to my son’s lack of ground. Unfortunately his father, who lives in Germany, has pretty much stopped communicating with both he and his brother since our massive move to the East Coast last July. And his surrogate grandmother passed away in February. It is easy to see why the pressure cooker’s bubbling for him, for all of us. I feel a mountain of love and anguish for both of my children as I prompt them to be kind and stay true to themselves in the midst of these hurdles.

To be sure, I normally react to Arrow’s tantrums by trying to help him breathe slowly and deeply. We also have a list of tools we use such as screaming into a pillow or talking it out, being creative. But to be honest, sometimes I am already stressed out, sometimes in the midst of his ear spitting clamor, I just ask him to please stop, for the sake of the neighbors, my ears, our family’s sanity, for his own sanity, to just… calm… down— for god’s sake!!! As you can imagine… this method doesn’t generally go over too well. 

As a single mother I am maxed. I find myself pushing my sons to be more independent. I want them to master daily tasks which are feasible for their age such as putting their laundry away and wiping off the toilet seat. In many instances these milestones are necessary as my life is very full with work and school. 

Last night something went wrong at dinner. I can’t remember what it was to be honest. Could have been the wrong kind of spaghetti noodle, not sure. But Arrow lost it. His speaking sped to unintelligible, he screamed, lay down on the floor and refused to get up. It was tough. 

But I had been reading “The Yoga Sutras”, specifically 1.23 which is Īshvara-pranidhānād vā: complete absorption, or self-realization, is attainable through continual focus on Īshvara (the personal but unnamed god or goddess, supreme presence, unchangeable highest being, insert your resonant divine connection here). 

In the moment of my son screaming I flashed back to earlier in the day when I was returning home from a job interview in Manhattan. I was looking at all of the people on the bus and asking myself, ‘is Īshvara here?’ The moment had felt so mundane and ordinary and nothing happened, I just asked. Then, flash-forward, my son is screaming like a banshee, I am trying not to panic, my other son is rolling his eyes and saying, ‘oh no.’ … 

I look at my screaming son and I help him up off of the floor, I look him in the eyes and I say, ‘breathe with me.’ I hear a voice inside me that says, ‘this is Īshvara, Īshvara is here.’ I look at my son’s frightened face and I feel complete love and empathy for him, and we breathe. We breathe deeply maybe 2 or 3 times: in—two, three, four, out—two, three, four. Then he smiles at me through tears, hugs me, and the rest of the night is golden. I am in tears as I write this. 

When I tuck Arrow in at night I tell him, ‘you did a really, really good job of calming down today honey.’ He says, ‘yeah, and next time I might be angry when I have a tantrum but I’m not going to scream, I am just going to breathe.’ I tell him that is a really good idea, but that its okay if he is not able to all of the time-- as I know his self expectations compound his overwhelm. I tell him I may not be able to be calm all of the time either, but that I’ll try. 

Parenting is the craziest and most real thing I’ve done so far. I am humbled and tumbled and lit on fire in beautiful and insane ways continuously. I realize that not everyone has this experience. I realize that not everyone is a single mother of twins, and also, that there is a single mother of many children out there, warrioring through her days. I realize that being any kind of a parent, or non-parent— being a human being, can mean warrioring through your days, period. No matter what, we are all learning and growing toward seeing Īshvara in the tantrum if we so choose, when we are able, when there is grace. 

And when we don’t, that’s okay too.

Hari om