Before I had kids I was an expert at checking in with myself to ascertain what I really felt or knew about whatever was happening, regardless of what may have been going on around me. Once I was in partnership with my husband I learned to do it in his presence when we were discussing something, or talking.
“Hold on a second,” I would say, “I need to check in with myself.” It became second nature to both of us that I do this. In partnership, where the other person’s needs and desires were closer to me than say with just a friend, I found I needed a moment of quiet to get to that place. To actually go within and check what I thought about it. My husband got it. He’s an adult.
My children are not.
Needless to say, motherhood changed this for me. That’s why I do the following quick space clearing at a minimum once a day.
Here’s how it goes. Upon sitting down to meditate every morning I say this to myself. (Usually I do it silently, but it doesn’t matter if you say it out loud or internally.)
“I ask that anyone else’s energy leave me now and return to where it belongs.”
Followed by, “I ask all my energy to come back to me now.”
This simple practice gets me to zero. I’m collected. I’m whole. Other people’s needs and desires are no longer sharing my space. I can actually feel the difference.
I do it every time I sit for meditation, no matter what time of day. I start my sitting like that. But you can also do it anytime, anywhere. You can do it standing in your kitchen while preparing your children’s snacks. You can do it in your car while sitting at a stoplight. It’s simple and easy and it fits anywhere. Personally, because I am so sensitive to other’s energy (especially when they came out of my womb or are a part of my family) I need to be alone to do it. The bathroom, the bedroom for a quick moment… you get the picture.
It’s so helpful. Especially if you are the kind of person that easily reads or picks up energy from others. Especially if you are a mother.
It makes sense that mothers (or fathers) need this more. The moment you become a mother you become totally responsible (at least for a little while) for providing for every need of another person —you are their link to getting everything they need. For me, (and I think for other women too) my children’s needs register in my own body and being. Now I’m highly empathic so it’s possible that this is much louder for me than the average person. Regardless having all these other people’s wants and desires inside my psychic space can be confusing, overwhelming, and well, a little crazy making. (Especially when they are opposing and with more than one child in the mix, they definitely can be!)
When this happens to me I feel like, “I can’t think.” In actuality what is happening is that I can’t hear myself anymore. Of course I can think, but I can’t hear the most important voice —that inner one who tracks my status. At a basic minimum, she is aware of what my needs are. At her best, she sees great things about how or when it is possible for everyone to get their needs met, and what must be done and in what order for that to happen.
I need that part of me. I need her like I need air. When I can’t hear her I feel suffocated.
That’s why little practices, like the one I’m mentioning here are so essential to me.
Why do you need this? Same reason.
Please permit me to administer a lecture. (It’s brief. Only a paragraph or two long.)
You need to know what your needs are. Even if you can’t comply with them at the moment, you must understand them. Understanding them is a critical component and responsibility you have to your own being. Only you are responsible for this. (It’s a boon when someone else like your partner also considers them highly important, still as an adult ultimately you are the only one truly responsible for knowing your own needs.) You must know them to get them fulfilled.
Here’s another angle. If you need to think of it in a different way, think of it this way. Would you want one of your children moving through their own life never understanding or addressing their own needs? Always throwing them out the door, or not even listening to them for the sake of others? No. You wouldn’t. Well, you are somebody’s daughter (or son). Furthermore, you’re important. For reasons I’ve already stated, it can be hard to remember this when you become a mother. But you must try.
Now as every mother knows, your needs don’t always get fulfilled. Sometimes they aren’t even in the running. This is just part of the job. Still, you must know what they are. You must track them. Not tracking them, and not knowing them leads to them not being fulfilled, and also, in the practical sense leads to a very grumpy person. Knowing them, and recognizing them leads to understanding about yourself, discovery of the little places you might tuck in and get them met, and to actually growing those spaces or making room for them to fit into the context of your life (and motherhood).
Let me be clear. The woman who makes space for her own desires and needs is no less aware of what the desires and needs of those around her are. The difference is that the voices of others are no longer drowning out her own. Now, everyone’s voice is in the mix, as it should be. As it happens in motherhood, more frequently than not—your current desire may not get fulfilled. Or it may. But knowing which is the case in this moment is impossible unless you also become aware of what your needs are, what your voice says. In my experience my own voice is usually not as loud as the, “I want more apple!” that’s coming at me from outside. So unless I dutifully strive to hear it again and again, I will not know. And I owe it to myself to know.
Enter my meditation/prayer.
“I ask everyone else’s energy to leave me now…. I ask my own energy to return to me.”
Ahhh! Now listen.
On the best days the result will be,”Thank you.” Or, “Oh I see! Do this, do that, everyone gets this!”
On the other days the answer is, “I hear you Self, maybe later.”