The Spiritual Insights of a Terrible Night with a 3-Year Old
by Susanna Barkataki
This week I want to share the other night’s insight on letting go. It started out horrible and turned out amazing.
Admittedly, I was a little bit delirious with lack of sleep when these 3 teachings hit me.
They are powerful nonetheless.
They came in the form of a little evening visitor to my bed.
A few nights ago, Kailash, my 3 year old, came into the bed like he’s been doing for a couple weeks. We parents like to pretend we have the perfectly trained kid sometimes. Well, the truth is, most of us have our kids crawling in bed with us every now and again, whether we like it or not.
This particular night was something else though. Usually he rolls in, snuggles, falls asleep.
Not tonight. I felt a foot. A fist. A strand of my hair pulled.
I couldn’t sleep. I was annoyed and angry. Kailash kept kicking, bothering, poking me. No matter what I said.
Despite his cries and protests I was fed up and even put him back in his own room. He cried a bit and was finally quiet. Whew. I thought, and settled down to sleep.
Silence shattered, about 20 minutes later, with my child’s cry.
When I went into his room, he threw up.
Gross. I know. Especially for those of you who’ve never wiped up kid throw up. And maybe for those who have too.
Here’s the lesson though:
Immediately my irritation turned to compassion. I rubbed his back. Cleaned him, changed him, soothed him. Though a few moments ago I wished he had been anywhere else, I brought him caringly back into my own bed and cuddled him so he could sleep. And those of you who know me well know I am squeamish about germs. . so this is really saying something.
The three teachings
1. His outer behavior matched his inner uncomfortable state.
When people are uncomfy inside, they have something to throw up mentally, psychically, physically. Their outer behavior could be an indication of this.
2. The same circumstance had very different meaning when we apply care.
I turned from anger to compassion when I could see his suffering. By seeing his suffering, and understanding it, my anger evaporated. I had nothing but care and compassion for him.
3. As soon as he was done being sick he was fine. He let go.
He woke happy as if nothing had disrupted his sleep. He had no story.
So my takeaways are:
– Learn to look at actions and learn and ask about inner state.
– Look to our own and others suffering with care and compassion.
– Let the story go, let go, let go.
This article originally appeared on Susanna’s blog here.
About Susanna Barkataki
Susanna Barkataki, M.Ed. E-RYT, is a writer, speaker and educator working at the intersection of self-care, yoga, ayurveda, socially engaged entrepreneurship, and healing justice. She is a long-time meditation practitioner and part of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing. She is a passionate yoga teacher, wellness and yoga blogger, and recently founded Ignite: Yoga and Wellness Institute in Florida.