I’ll Have What She’s Having

Yes!

Yes!

Welcome to the First Mindful Mama Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Blog Carnival hosted by Zoie at TouchstoneZ. Participants are writing posts about what mindful practices mean to them, how they parent mindfully, obstacles to mindful practice and experiences along the way. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***

Part of my post partum depression treatment is monthly deep tissue massage with craniosacral and energy work. I had been having severe pain on the right side of my neck. So I purposefully scheduled my massage 3 days before my family and I were set to fly across the US. As it was, the amount of pain I was in would have prohibited the traveling necessities of babywearing, childwrangling, and toting heavy bags. So being in pain was not an option.

The massage kept the pain manageable for about a day. I went to the chiropractor, but was still in an intolerable amount of discomfort. I was suffering enough that I was snapping at everyone. I was pretty miserable to be around. So, I begged my massage therapist and she graciously agreed to see me the morning of my flight. When we met, she had with her an arsenal of tools to figure out the root cause of my pain and remove it from my body permanently. She was on a mission of compassion, but it was a bit frightening to see her determination. I described my symptoms and she looked up some treatments and emotional causes in some of her books, including You Can Heal Your Life, which said my symptoms came from in part an intolerance of another’s viewpoint. Uh, ouch! That was a hard thing to hear. To be fair, she agreed that some of it was because I was cosleeping and tandem breastfeeding, which takes all sorts of tolls on the body. But, this had the (ouchie) ring of truth to it. It may have imploded my ego, but I was prepared to accept whatever I needed to accept in order to take away the neck pain I was in.

I made the choice to be fearless. I used the intense massage session to meditate on what we had learned and see what came up for me. What arose within me was the emphatic word,

YES!

I decided to take the radical step to say, “Yes!” to anything that was asked of me for the entire day. And I couldn’t think of anything more terrifying than traveling across the country with 3 small children and my husband without the option to say, “No!” to anything. I would have to trust the people around me without any of my usual reservations. I also knew that I would have to be mindful of saying “yes” at all times.

I would hold to two key rules:

  1. I wouldn’t tell anyone what I was doing in order to keep it authentic (e.g.: no being taken advantage of)
  2. I would hold to my core value Ahimsa, or non-violence, to make certain neither I nor anyone else would be harmed by the “Yes!” This meant always looking for the yes in the no and keeping my mind in the present moment at all times. This is one of those mindfulness practices that I find really juicy: being mindful off the mat.

All of this arose in me in the 10 minutes it took for me to mindfully disrobe and get settled into the table. This is what happens when I really listen to my heart-not often an easy thing for me to do. I spent the rest of the massage repeating the mantra that I was safe and protected, so that I could let go and trust everyone with my open heart.

And I did it. I said “Yes!” to everything that was asked of me from the time I left the massage table until the time I finally fell asleep-36 hours later. My neck pain resolved and it has yet to return. But, here was the real proof for me that working constantly to be mindfully in the moment with everyone brought a change to my life: My husband and I had zero disagreements the entire trip. My children and I had zero disagreements the entire trip. I felt safe and secure, with clear boundaries, the entire trip. I felt happy and playful the entire trip. There were challenging moments, of course, but I enjoyed my family the entire trip. I suppose it is easy to travel with someone who is always open to hearing what you need and is readily in touch with their own needs.

Anytime I need a quick pick me up or anytime the day isn’t going well, I set my inner timer and say, “Yes!” to anything for an hour, or 15 minutes, or 1 minute-whatever is reasonable and feels safe to me. This practice completely turns around the energy that I and everyone around me is putting out. It is difficult to remain mindful at all times, but like any practice, finding the Yes! in the No! is becoming easier.

Have you ever tried saying “YES!” to everything? Would you ever try this practice? Why or Why not? I’d love to hear from you.

***

Mindful Mama Blog CarnivalVisit TouchstoneZ to find out how you can participate in the next Mindful Mama Blog Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

26 thoughts on “I’ll Have What She’s Having

  1. What scares me most about saying ‘Yes’ all the time is the fact that Heidi changes her mind every two seconds 🙂 “Cereal?” “Pizza?” “Banana?” “Watch a movie?” “Walk?” “Go upstairs? “Go downstairs?” Would it ever end? 🙂

    The idea seems incredibly freeing to me though, much like the idea of getting rid of everything I own. Saying ‘Yes’ on a consistent basis must also change the attitude of everyone around you since you are exuding such positivity. Not sure if I’m going to try it, but I will certainly consider it. 🙂

    • Thank you for commenting, Amanda. That was my worry, as well. But, it ended up being the mindfulness part of the practice that was important. My kids keyed into the fact that I was fully present and open to whatever they were feeling. And they became much more clear in their own feelings. There was very little dithering, actually. I don’t know, but it’s worth a try and see if you experience something similar. I would think that, even with the changing opinions, saying “yes!” to everything is still okay. Why not cereal and pizza and banana and movie and walk and upstairs and downstairs and…? Really, why not? It doesn’t have to be all the time. Just this once. It could be fun. As long as you stay in contact with your needs for protection and security, it could be a grand adventure.

  2. Wow Zoie…I’m kinda glad I waited to read your post until this morning, because now is when I needed it!

    “…someone who is always open to hearing what you need and is in readily in touch with their own needs.” – that sentence struck me the most out of what you’ve written here…Too frequently I ride the roller coaster of ignoring my own needs, trying to fulfill those of my family (probably more often my daughter than my husband) and then becoming resentful that my needs are un-met, so the no’s just start flying out; I get over it (or feel guilty) and go back to meeting their needs…and then it just starts all over again.

    That was quite the nonsensical paragraph, but hopefully it made sense lol!

    At any rate, I would love to be the person who says yes, while still feeling/being safe, cherished, secure…all this saying that I need to do this practice (and more so with my husband than my child, becuase at this point that is what I find more challenging).

    And I thank you as always for giving me a lot to think on…and the feeling that there is such a friend in someone I’ve never met! Seriously grateful to you mama!

    • Thank you, Kelly. I don’t know that I would recommend saying yes for 36 hours like I did at first. It’s pretty radical. But, setting the timer for a small (ie: safe) amount of time, it can be very freeing. And the feeling of friendship is very mutual (hug)

  3. The “Yes!” sounds powerful…and terrifying. But also attractive. I think I’ve done something similar lately, but I think I’m actually saying, “OK…” I’ll have to give “Yes!” a try. And I really want to see your massage therapist.

    • Thank you, CJ. OK seems a little safer to me. I might give it a try when I’m not quite feeling all the way to an uninhibited “YES!” Next time you come to the Bay Area, I’ll hook you up with my mt!

  4. Zoie I knew you would end up greatly challenging me! I have deeply enjoyed and appreciated all of the amazing entries to the carnival but yours is definitely the most challenging one for me.
    I am in love with the idea and can picture me doing it and it being lovely. But wowza it scares me. Is it even possible to do this with a houseful of kids like mine? I am always looking for ways to say yes more, but to say yes as a general rule? Now that is scary. I am sure you have picked up on the fact that I like my control… this is a tough one. You have definitely given me something to think about and I thank you for it. ((hug))

    • Thank you, ORM. It is scary, but even if you don’t say “yes” out loud for more than a few minutes, simply changing your mindset to “yes” will be powerful. It’s almost indescribable how different everything is.

      One thing I forgot to mention is that I do this with my husband when we’re going through a patch of annoying one another. It sure smooths things over. It’s like holding someone’s hand when you haven’t spoken to them for awhile.

  5. Thinking of giving it a try and blogging about it. Not sure if I’m doing it because I haven’t written in so long, or to give myself a goal. Or a little of both. Just started — although how hard is it to say yes to my 4 year old who wants to play a video game while his younger brother naps? “YES!”

    • Katherine, I’d love to read your experience. I’m curious to see what happens with other families where perhaps a mama who says “yes” all of the time isn’t as rare an occurrence??

  6. Wow Zoie I love this!! Really Love It. I am going to try it now this afternoon…I’ve been crabby in the last few days – moon time and lack of sleep – and the kids really need me to be more open-hearted and affirmative to restore our connection.

    I also find massage amazing for moving in to a positive space and try to get mine regularly too.

    Thanks for the wonderful carnival – perfect timing.

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  9. I like the idea of spending a day, or even a pat of a day, focused on saying “yes” to everything, and finding a yes in a no. I really struggle with staying mindful throughout the day. That is something I know I need to focus more effort on. I tend to be very reactive and get triggered easily. Focusing on staying mindful would be a great improvement.

    I was hoping to participate in this carnival (such a great topic!) but alas I’ve been feeling so out-of-balance and have been having such trouble staying mindful, I couldn’t bring myself to write anything meaningful. Hopefully next time I’ll be more up to the task!

    • Thank you, Shana. I struggle with it, too. I’m always looking for memes that will stick in my head and remind me to stay mindful through the day.

      I’m planning to do the carnival again at a later date. So, next time I would love for you to participate 🙂

  10. Oh, such Courage, Zoie! You overcame fear, confronted pain and triumphed over weakness. Such Joy comes to those who bravely bring YES into their hearts.

    Yes, I love saying “YES!” (You and me, with MANY children, we need lots of YESes in our lives !)

    Like you, I have learned to embrace YES even in circumstances when I would usually say NO. Naomi Aldort (Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves) suggests looking for the YES in all situations. So when I see my daughter banging a spoon on a glass and I am afraid it will break, I say “Yes, I see that you love to make that noise. Let me get you a pot to bang on and it will make a wonderful noise too!” Like magic, there is no conflict, her needs are met and so are mine.

    And thankyou so much for this new Carnival! I am really enjoying the other participants’ posts and I hope that we will all get another opportunity for this Carnival.

    Freedom and Joy to you and yours, Zoie!

  11. What a brave endeavor! I give my “yes” so slowly and begrudgingly at times, and I had never really thought how this affects my connections. The idea that, “it is easy to travel with someone who is always open to hearing what you need and is in readily in touch with their own needs,” makes perfect sense, however. You have inspired me to experiment with giving my yes a bit more freely.

    Thanks to this carnival, I have so many new tools to try. I need to browse back through and make a list!

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I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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