Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Infant Massage Article. Class Begins Soon.

OK. So this may seem terribly incongruent with the “infant massage” information you might be expecting to read about, but in my world EVERYTHING is interrelated. Everything. So I’ll start right off by saying that in this article, I’m pitching infant massage as an antidote to fast, frenzied, distracted parenting. There’s more to the story, of course, but these few paragraphs are devoted to something that I am passionate about: slow parenting, and slow parenting on OUR OWN terms.

As new mothers and fathers, my hunch is that you’re getting a taste of the various ways that life-before-kids is clashing with and harmonizing with life-after-kids. You may be feeling elated one day; terrified, overwhelmed or just plain pissed the next. Although my girls are 6 and 9 now, I have easy access to the beautiful mess I was as a new mom, and how I felt both the wonder and chaos of it all…the still moments…and a deep longing for routine, “me” time, sleep, a shower. Most of all, though, I think I longed for assurance. I wanted more assurance that what I was doing (or not doing) was truly the best for my daughters. Was it? I still don’t know. And I still sometimes quibble with myself as a mother almost 10 years later.

But enough about me. It’s my fellow parents I’m interested in, and especially those among us who are negotiating a new landscape of speed, distraction and data. Those digesting information and opinions at every turn. Publicly advertised rights, wrongs, dos and donts. A myriad of articles written by “experts” about parenting — always about kids who are not our own — which, as opposed to bringing a sense of steadiness and satisfaction in our own parenting — have the potential to uproot our already fragile peace of mind.

I’m straddling the line. I’ve had one kid pre- and one kid post-iPhone. I definitely have a love/hate with the iPhone. And note: I am not saying that help or information is a bad thing. Getting answers and learning from people around us is part of the game. Help, well — helps. I read the articles and sought solid counsel about all kinds of issues as a new mom. I still seek. I AM saying that I sense an insidious kind of deterioration happening both in my experience of life and mothering because I’m mired more in information than in my own life experiences. There are hidden price tags associated with too much of a good thing — information — and I worry that our trust in ourselves is being washed out by the voices of outside “authority" who always. Seem. To know. Better.

What to trust? And how to check out without totally checking out? How about making more meaning in our lives. Anchoring in our own experiences. How about simple, wordless connection? I wonder: how far have we strayed from ourselves in the pursuit of information and assurance about “doing it right?”

There is a middle way. Always.

Discernment and “unplugged” quietude can be critical components in finding it. Preserving and nurturing authentic connections to our intuition, our intellect, our hearts and the people we love can be game changers, too.

I am a massage therapist and a certified educator of infant massage, which means I teach people how to massage their babies. I demonstrate all the strokes on a doll and keep classes small enough to offer unobtrusive, one-on-one guidance as needed. I’m new at teaching, but I am deeply moved by the simplicity and profundity of babies and body work.

Most of all, I love that infant massage “works”. Babies thrive with positive touch. Blocks of trauma are released. Tension melts. All physiological systems are strengthened. Neurological lights fire up. Bonding deepens, and a whole new world of reliable, fascinating communication opens up for parents who take the time to learn this beautiful, ancient art.

The woman who founded The International Foundation of Infant Massage is Vimala McClure. I’ll tell you more about her in class, but she writes:

"Be cautious about what the experts tell you. What sounds complex and clever may have no roots. Wisdom has no cleverness in it. It is pure and simple and when it is practiced, the results are obvious."

There is more to say; this is just a small window into the potential riches of this work, but I will leave much of that to you and your baby to discover!

Please contact me if you have any questions about this new, 2-class series. I hope to see you in a class soon.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Day 11

The young ladies were sort of mad at me so they cozied up to Ben on the sofa instead of with me on the floor. Kind of sad about this, but actually I needed the space. Realizing I was perpetuating this feeling of "poor me", separation -- and honestly I felt miles away from most things good. That sucked. So I began mentally playing with what is truly one of my all time favorite qualities: flexibility. Supported by that night's centering thought...

I attempted to let my cerebral analysis of the sorry scene shift from hurt (they didn't "choose" me) to glad they were giving me some space. From self-blame (why am I such an a**hole) to gratitude for Ben, who typically steps up and effortlessly offers the calm, sweet space our girls need when I can't give it to them. Then, tried to peek out of my self-absorbed little hole to a broader consideration of the other three people in the room. The room itself. Nice room. Warm fire. Cave woman truncation. Maybe they were so happy and settled "over there" that my black temper wasn't as infectious as I had assumed? The gradual settling, the flow, the end of another day. That we were sitting and doing this despite what never feels like opportune conditions; the silence we all contributed to creating and maintaining ... the boundless space I can give to myself when I shift from out of myopic viewpoint and into the broader vista. How can I let go more?

Hell. We aren't being bombed. We are not hungry. There is safety and connection here. We say "I love you" often enough so it's the norm -- not a consolation, or back peddling into making nice. There are days when I have absolutely no, NO problems whatsoever and enough time, space, joy, resources and energy to do everything I want to do.

...there are 100 billions neurons in our brains waiting for our cue, our efforts, to jump to something that makes our days a little better. Neuroplasticity is powerful science. Remember that old Cherokee Proverb? There is a battle of two wolfs inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, lies, inferiority and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and truth. The wolf that wins if the one you feed.
The one that wins is the one you feed.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

10th Day

We were rushed this evening but the gotta do all of these mentality took us by storm so we ate Mac n Cheese and organized DVDs on the floor while we fake meditated...time went by and it was kind of cool to see some reverence in the children. We decided no talking, so Phoebe madly lip synched something to Willoree that totally could have waited. At least two or three times. Willoree had an irritated face and kept quiet, but ended up yelling at Phoebe because she was messing up the DVD stack. The irony of the topic being FOCUS and tonight's play by play does not escape me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Day 9

Very cool happening tonight in the Geitner/Ford household. The four of us were apres-dinner doing our own things: I am fighting a cold and was sitting in a pile of paperwork sorting on the floor; kids were in various states of getting ready for bed, talking up their tiredness; Ben was finishing up a book. Tonight's meditation could easily have been skipped because of apathy, tiredness, not feeling well, bedtime -- you name it. But I hit play anyways, right in the middle of typically average, busy evening. I didn't wait around for anything approximating perfect timing. I just called it. And once Oprah started talking the energy of the room -- and we -- kind of gelled into this single stream kind of thing. We never hear much of what Oprah has to say, same goes for Deepak some evenings (no offense) but by the time the little bell rings us into silence we're ready to collectively enjoy our quiet home. Which means quieter bodies. Eventually. 

It took about 3 or 4 minutes to settle, realize, and fall into our new habit -- but when it happened (and maybe even when it was happening) I could feel it. My experience was that we went from disparate, self-absorbed people into the new-found (and quite easily come by, I'm realizing) comfort of unified focus and quiet, together-in-end-of-day silence. It struck me (again!) that there isn't often an ideal time, optimal conditions, or a cohesive affirmation that dictates the pauses in our lives. Someone is usually just awesome enough to midwife a pause in.

So in the spirit of birthing new ideas, awareness, and gratitude for this experiment in our home, I am getting more and more comfortable serving up "the pause". Really wonderful how inviting in peace, stillness, a change of focus from independent, busy, distracted, chores, etc. can so quickly make like a cohesive field. Perhaps I'm stuck on "intention" here -- but so loving the practicality, elegance, simplicity, of this concept. I think, too, that "intention/attention" is a graspable concept and nice intersection between parents and children.

Monday, November 10, 2014

1/3 of the way through - Day 7

One week down. Day 7 is done!

I sat on a chair by myself in a somewhat black temper ... but by the end I was feeling better. Took a bath and went to bed early.

It was late; too late. Pushing limits. The set up was haphazard. Deliberate creation and intention is the game here and I was realizing that I just didn't deliberately set anything up, nor did I prioritize and help usher in a reasonable family affair. I had my head in my studies and it wasn't OK to blame Ben for the lack of preparation, etc.

All me. Hence my bad mood!

Ah well.

Day 8

Feeling so grateful for the hope and openness these are offering me and my family! As I'm sitting each evening with them, now completing Day 8, I can't help wonder why it's so much easier to focus on the wiggling, the irritations, interruptions, the things that are challenges to peace vs. peace itself. I wouldn't trade this strange new experience of meditation -- I know it's "best enjoyed" in a distraction-free zone, but this is part of my experiment: can I invite peace in no matter the circumstance? And the answer is yes. At times. I'm noticing that there is a whole new layer of awareness about how challenging old habits are to break, but these mantras and this family ritual we've adopted are beautiful assurance that peace is here now, despite and around circumstance...and when and if I fall away from that understanding, I can get back up and accept whatever flavor of peace and harmony that's present. Here's to the Patron Saint of Second (and third, etc.) chances!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Day 6 - Attention...

Day 6.

Love this: "Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager." — Susan Sontag. We came, we sat. It was so late and our day was so big and fun we all lay on the floor toppled over one another like Dominoes and fell asleep. Hence the morning after post...

Friday, November 07, 2014

Day 5 - Shreem Kleem Namah

"I deserve complete fulfillment."

Shreem Kleem Namah. I attract abundance from my true self.

Tonight's installment left me kinda longing. Nothing much more to say about that, in this white box, at least. Kids were fine, predictable, throughout tonight's meditation and I feel the weather turning
from summery fall to wintery fall.

I'd be lying if I wrote I wasn't more distracted than normal tonight. I was also aware that repeating the bit about deserving complete fulfillment over and over left me wondering about places where complete fulfillment just isn't happening. It's like that thing about asking people about peace and they talk about war, or asking them about belonging and they talk about the times when they were left out. (Brene Brown talks in depth about this.) I don't think that you can consider complete fulfillment without considering the areas where you sense you'd like more. Maybe that's part of the the point.
I note too that not long before this gig started I preferred my lap free during my meditation time but I'm beginning to prefer two girl heads in it. At least tonight I did.

In any case, it's been and long luscious week and this lady's calling it done.

Until tomorrow...

Day 4 - Ahrah Kahrah

Day 4. Ahrah Kahrah.

Perhaps the cutest thing about this undertaking is listening to Willoree pull some serious Alex Trebek moves and pronounce the Sanskrit with alarmingly exaggerated, but close to perfect inflection and pronunciation.

Another cool thing is that the room where we're sitting truly transforms into a little peace den while we're meditating. No longer an entryway or a place to socialize...neither the place where we throw our shoes nor the kinda of laundry room. This living room -- just by intention and what we're all doing in it, together -- basically morphs into a little room of enormous ideals.