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Archive for December, 2015

For Blakely 12/21/2015 

She must have come from some sort of wolf family. I remember saying that to someone as I endured yet another tantrum from my 2-year old daughter.

Her tantrums – usually initiated by my saying “no” to something – were more like fits:  frothy spittle coming from her mouth, a low and pervasive growl mingled with outright howling and screaming, on and on and on.  I knew they were age appropriate, and I knew they had a beginning and an end.  But I swear to God, they seemed like she was purging some sort of demon that lived in the bowels of her soul, and it was difficult to endure these fits, and more difficult, I would imagine, to witness.

I was meditating then. Every day for many hours.  We lived, for the most part, with our spiritual teacher in her Ashram in upstate New York.  So, when her tantrums happened in public in other places, like on the streets of New York City, I was able to hold space for her with great equanimity.  I was able even to endure the well-intentioned people who tried to intervene and “help” – usually people who were scared and trying to take care of their feelings of impotence and helplessness rather than truly being of any use; so I could simply be quiet and spacious, as my daughter raged on and on and on.  I could even detach from the harsh admonitions of the more vicious women who would say things like: “Well, if she were my daughter…”  I would usually begin a Tonglen practice at that point, knowing full well these were shamed based women, projecting their self-hatred, and I could usually muster a kindred compassion and kindness for their shock and anger and feelings of impotence at watching us both experience these fits of toxicity.

These tantrums happened in airports. They happened on the streets of New York City.  They happened at home.  Once, when my daughter had a tantrum in a woman’s bathroom in an airport, I confined her behind a stall door as she frothed and screamed and growled and actually gnashed at the door with her teeth to try and escape.  One woman actually said she was going to call the police, and that is when I gave her a slightly withering stare and said:  “Please do.  I could use a break.”

I was getting tired by the second year of this mayhem. We were living in upstate New York that summer, between my daughter’s second and third year of life.  We had a room in an old hotel secured by the Ashram where devotees lived and performed their sadhana.  It was a gorgeous existence, and very difficult for those of us with the seva of child-rearing.  But my teacher said we always came with what we most needed to do and learn, and although I yearned for a more public and/or interesting seva (than taking care of an oppositional and difficult child), I was performing my work diligently each day:  yoga, chanting, seva, meditation, and a very austere life of study and prayer.

 

It was after lunch one day that one of my daughter’s tantrums began. And it was a doozy.  She was full tilt boogy into blood curdling screams and growls, which actually concerned me since the dharma of the Ashram was one of strict silence, when a resounding knock came at our door and a harsh woman’s voice called out “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO THAT CHILD?”

For the first time I collapsed a bit. I opened the door, and said:  “She is purifying herself.  Mind your own business.”  And I closed my door, and wearily sat on the end of the bed, looking at the top of the bed, where my daughter looked uncannily like Linda Blair , frothing, screaming, growling, winding up to attack me, scratch me, bite me.

For some reason, my eyes fell on a book by my teacher’s teacher, Baba Muktananda, which lay on the bed. It was open to a page where my eyes immediately sought a sentence as if it glared neon at me.  The simple sentence said: “Hear God in the tantrum of a child.”

My breath caught for a brief moment in my throat. At the same moment I looked at my daughter.  All sound had stopped.  She had thrown back her head and her mouth was wide open.   Blue pearls were cascading from her silent mouth toward the ceiling.

The Shaivite scriptures tell us that all of creation is contained in the Blue Pearl, and that God appears to us as a Blue Pearl, a dot in our consciousness. When I had first awakened to God some years before, it was these blue dots which shimmered in my vision everywhere; with my eyes opened or closed, my vision was swirling masses of small blue vortices of consciousness.  Now they were tumbling, falling, yet somehow also rising out of my daughter’s mouth.

Suddenly my daughter fell back on the bed into a deep slumber.

I was to join her moments later, enfolding her sweet body into my arms, and the two of us slept deeply, awakening several hours later.

When we awakened, the world was completely new, fresh and fragrant, and completely different than what had existed only hours before.

My daughter never had a tantrum again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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