No need for Force

This week’s newsletter is really more of a refrain.

No need for force.

That was the title of this morning’s reading from my favorite little book, The Parents Tao te Ching, but it perfectly summed up something that was on my mind.

It first echoed in my mind as I was setting up my outdoor space for class.

I have an enormous 6×10 yoga mat that I use for cushioning the climbing equipment out on the deck. I keep it rolled up between classes, so as you can imagine when I roll it out in the mornings, it tends to want to hold onto a curl on one edge…the one that’s been in the center of the roll. And while I do sometimes try to muscle the whole cumbersome mat over onto the other side, it’s kind of a pain. Instead, I’ve learned that all I have to do is wait just a few minutes and gradually and gently, the curl relaxes and flattens out. I’ve tried walking on it, putting a piece of furniture on it…but none of that hastens the relaxation…all it does is amp me up. I notice I get a little more frustrated when I’m actively trying to flatten the curl, rather than simply waiting for it to relax on its own.

See where I’m going?

This is the real magic behind Magda’s approach.

This morning, a child who has had a hard time separating from her mother during class, began her day the same as ever… “walk!” she told her mother, pulling on her finger and leading her toward the toy shelf. Same as ever, her Mom said, “I’m going to sit right here and watch. You can go.” And her child smiled and took two steps toward the shelf before pivoting and saying, a little more insistently, “Walk! Momma!” And again, her Mom said, “I’ll be right here…in RIE class, I watch you.” Her daughter smiled and started to walk away…and I’m sure you know what happened next. Well, it happened a few times, but her mother quietly and confidently held her ground and gradually, gradually her child took more and more steps away…until she wandered all the way out onto the deck without even looking back.

How different it would have been for both of them if her mother tried to shoo her daughter away, or push or cajole her. That would have intensified the dynamic. Instead, this mother confidently held her boundary…she wanted to stay seated. And her daughter slowly, slowly found her way.

When we slow down, we let things unfold…or in the mat’s case…unfurl…in their own time and in their own way. Sure, there are times when we don’t have time to let things unfold, and goodness knows there are times we all get stuck…but when we start by slowing down and just waiting to see what happens, we might find a more peaceful way.

Here’s to a weekend of unfolding for all of us!