In Honor of Stillness
"Stillness is the Altar of Spirit" ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
By Patti Brown
I am stilled listening to the labored breathing of my mother. The whirling motor of the oxygen machine competes with the pouring rain tap dancing across the windowpane. Yet, there is a silence tucked in the middle of these forceful sounds. It’s hard to put into words; I suppose it’s more of a feeling, a sensation, a knowing we are not alone in these “in- between” spaces.
My eyes are slowly diverted to the photos hanging on the walls surrounding me. My dad, her father, her mother, her brother and what seems to be a high school graduation picture of my mother dated perhaps back to the late 1940’s. I scan the face of this young woman carefully, then slowly shift my gaze back to my mom, noticing her white knuckling the bed rail, breathlessly calling out my name. I reply with as gentle as a response as I can, “I’m right here mom, I’m right here.” With tightly shut eyes, a deep furrowed brow, barely audible, she whispers, "thank you."
I sit back in the pink corduroy cushioned rocking chair that, almost 23 years ago now, I rocked my sweet daughter in when she was born. There is something deeply profound about recognizing the history of this rocker.
History, it all comes come back to me in the midst of huge swings of change and transition. Sometimes I find it dictates my behavior, especially under great stress. I’ve decided. Today is a day to write new chapters in my history book, history not dictated by past experiences.
How do I want to live in my body, my mind, and my heart at this juncture in my life? I’ve been known to use the phrase “put on your own oxygen mask first." I’ve made that mistake too many times and it cost me my own health, my own wellbeing.
My message now after many false starts: Don’t repeat history. To all you caregivers please Pause for a moment before you jump into those tumultuous events with loved ones.
Remain aware. Stay present. Breathe.
Take time for your own respite and self-care.
Yes, I’ve been here before and I am here again.
But, now….. I’m Pausing. Sitting. Being still. Praying.
One’s world becomes very small when you are in the middle of a raging storm. It’s hard to reply back to emails, return calls or stay current to many of life’s demands. Time has no big hand or little hand, only light and dark signify time passing. It’s okay; it’s all the new normal. Some will understand, others won’t - it doesn’t matter. Your focus needs to be on taking care of yourself so that you can care for another.
The other night on my way home, I noticed houses outlined in colorful lights signifying the holidays fast approaching. I took a slow inhale breath. I exhaled slowly, giving myself permission to be here now, one day at a time. Allowing for stillness in the moment to not be contaminated by the past. Making room for my heart to be filled with nothing but love.
Pausing. Sitting. Being quiet in the stillness. Feeling the presence of a higher power, God.
Trusting. Knowing the only control I have is how I choose to behave, to employ self-care, to demonstrate love.
My mother’s labored breathing fades ever so slightly as I notice my own breath, my own body, and my overwhelming gratefulness to be a vehicle of love and support for another. Acutely aware of my responsibility to administer my ownself-care as I provide comfort for others.
I wish you all a Holiday filled with peace, love, self-care, gratefulness and stillness.
Breathe it all in with love,
**A couple days after Patti wrote the above, her mother passed away. Our hearts are with Patti and her family during this time of shifting.