Finding your Dharma….A mom’s journey to yoga

First of all…..What is Dharma?

Short description – When you live your true purpose and give your gifts fully, you are fully alive and living your fullest potential – your Dharma.  Some people might say it is your God given purpose.

How many of us can truly say we are living our Dharma?

First of all – let me say that I am not a certified spiritual guru – a perfect human being – or anyone else qualified to tell anyone how to live their life.

I am just a mom – who loves doing yoga – teaching yoga – and also happens to have a 5 year old little girl with autism.  Hopefully I can weave all these pieces together to bring relevance back to my topic.

Let me back up to 4 years ago yesterday….April 16 – 2009.  This date is really imprinted on my mind…..and probably always will be.

My 15 month old baby had stopped talking & communicating 2 months ago – and seemed more and more disconnected from all of us.  She had developed completely typically – hit all developmental milestones – and then started going in reverse at 13 months.  I was in denial – because it just seemed like a bad dream that I might wake up from one day.

On that chilly day in April – we made our first visit to a developmental pediatrician.  I let my husband do the talking – because I was incapable of being honest with myself – let alone any professionals who might slap a label on my child.

So my husband talked – the doctor observed her – took tons of notes – and I sat there drinking coffee and nursing a terrible hangover.  (Wine was my “medicine” at that time for disconnecting from the situation.)

We left with a diagnosis of PDD.NOS (she was too young for the autism diagnosis at the time – but did get it the following year) – apraxia, sensory processing disorder – and were told that she would most certainly have life long difficulties and limitations.

Now I will stop right here and say – if you are looking for the “feel good” story of the year – where the child recovers completely and is now in mainstream school….this might be the wrong blog for you to read.  It is still a good story – just not the one where the kid plays piano in a concert hall or sings on a cute you-tube video or something like that.

Every year presents itself with new challenges and heartaches.  She still struggles to talk – and when she does – only 15% is understandable…..even by me.  She doesn’t notice people unless she knows them – and she has had trouble sleeping for the last 4 years.  Some nights we only get 2 hours of sleep – if that.

We spend most of our money on therapies – food (a very clean diet) – and diapers.   Yes – a 5 year old who isn’t potty trained.  Not for lack of trying!

We spent the first 2 years after her diagnosis thinking that we could “cure” her.  Exerting our will on her – flying across the country to see different doctors – spending thousands upon thousands of dollars for medical interventions and therapies.

When we had little or no results – we just blamed ourselves – each other and God.  Speaking solely for myself – I was (and sometimes catch myself going there) – bitter – angry, cynical and jealous of people who had “typical” kids.  Even jealous of people who had kids with Aspergers.  Such a terrible way to live your life – and I do not recommend it.

At some point during all this insanity – I found yoga.  I started going every single day….and I started to have “releases”  (still do some days!) – …I would break out in tears during savasana.  During the silence – during the moments in between the moments – I would start to feel.

As days of yoga turned into months and years – the tears became joyful.  I became more thankful – less bitter – less angry.  I started to heal a little bit.  I stopped comparing myself to others as much (still working on this one daily) – and most of all – I stopped comparing my child to others (definitely still working on this!).

I fell in love with this new way of looking at myself, my child – and the world.  The yoga was helping me!  How oh how could I get more!?  (Me – always more is better! 😉

One day I decided I wanted to teach, and after much thought and support from my husband – I went to training.

Through training I went through a lot – emotionally & physically.  I had to keep letting old ideas die – and be OK with it.  I had to find acceptance for my body – for my life – for my child.   Sometimes I would go through a weekend of physically exhausting training on 2 hours of sleep.  Then there was the fact that I was terrified that no one would want me as a teacher for 10,000 reasons in my own head.

And then one day it happened.  I was in front of a class teaching people.  TERRIFIED.  I stumbled a little on my words – kept going as smoothly as I could – while inside I was shaking and trying to evoke to Gods to carry me through the class.

And then the class was over.  I got smiles – thank you’s – hugs……”when do you teach again? where else do you teach?”   They must have been talking to the wrong person….?  But they were talking to me.  The quirky gal walking around – speaking softly and asking people to relax and feel their breath moving them.

I was on a CLOUD!  Was this my Dharma?  I didn’t have any idea – but it surely felt like it.  A new level of transformation and healing has been happening in my life.  My daughter – by living her Dharma – and just being herself isn’t “holding me back” anymore.  Woah – wait a second – did I just realize that it wasn’t all about me?

Truthfully – my daughter is the light of my life and I wouldn’t change a hair on her head – even if I could.  (Let me also give props to prayer & meditation on that last comment)

This autism journey is truly the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my life.  But it has gotten better – some days it is beautiful – some magnificent – and some heartbreaking.  The truth is that I can actually see the beauty now – and not only the pain.

Stepping outside of myself and sharing something I love (yoga) – helps clear things up even more.  Is that my Dharma?  I don’t know.  But it sure feels right from the bottom of my heart – so I will keep doing it today.

-Jai Baghwan