I was initiated into Atma Kriya Yoga five years before the birth of my eldest son and those years of intensive practice were markedly different to the years once children entered the equation. These years with babies and young children now outnumber the years before however I believe their presence has improved my practice remarkably.
I had to let go of the meditation practice that existed before children, that time when there was time and also when there was guaranteed daily peace and quiet. Anyone with a baby or young child knows that guarantee has taken a long leisurely sabbatical. It is going to be a fair few years before it returns.
It takes discipline and determination to meditate daily but most importantly it takes a love for it and trust in it. You need to trust that if you put in the effort it will be rewarded even if you do not see or feel it. If you give your practice all your heart it never fails to benefit you.
As a stay at home mum time is outrageously limited and there can be weeks on end where there is never any time alone. Every aspect of life is affected by this shift and of course this includes our Atma Kriya Yoga practice. As we pass through life things change. It’s inevitable. It is important for us to learn how to adapt, let go and grow. This includes in our meditation practice too.
If you find that you are in a situation where life is extraordinarily busy instead of forgoing your sadhana completely let go of the thought, ¨if I can’t practice the whole thing then why bother?” Five minutes of Atma Kriya Yoga a day (and there have been many a day that is all I had to work with) is always better than not practising at all. Sometimes this five minutes can beat a two-hour child free session. It is all about intention and, of course, the Grace of the Kriya Masters.
One of my most outstanding experiences doing Atma Kriya Yoga was a spontaneous session last year at the Just Love Festival. The festival was drawing to a close, some stalls were being dismantled, there was a brief moment where the rain had stopped and the kids wanted to play in the big sand pit area where there were chairs and tables next to the juice bar. It was a generally relaxed socialising area but there was an edge of chaos too. As the kids played I decided to sit in the sand, in between the tables of people chatting away, and do my Atma Kriya. It wasn’t the perfect time or place but it felt right. The kids occasionally included me in their play by putting sand in my hands which they thought was hilarious. This short spur of the moment practice was effortless and incredible; it felt timeless. Then not too long after this practice Swami Vishwananda, the Kriya Yoga Master who initiated me into the practice, walked past and chatted with the staff in the juice bar. The area became crowded but quiet with peaceful excitement running through the air.
Despite the inevitable changes and challenges that life has brought me, my Atma Kriya Yoga practice has remained integral to my daily life. It was there throughout my pregnancies and gave me immense relief from morning sickness. Throughout the first two trimesters of both my pregnancies I was nauseous and vomiting all day and it was during that pocket of time when I did my daily sadhana that I did not feel sick.
Now the kids are 6 and 4 years old. They are very conscious of how meditation impacts and is integral to our life. In fact there are occasional moments when either one will sit quietly with me while I meditate and the love is boundless. If they are both awake and present during my practice the noise and movement is much like a hurricane and tornado sitting on my lap, making me acutely aware that I still have to work on finding that boundless love in those moments! These momentary challenges, however, are one of the many ways in which they have helped to improve my practice, develop my concentration and solidify my discipline whilst simultaneously teaching me to let go, trust and just do it.