My perfect little teachers

I have written several times about how parenting has changed me for the better here, here, and here.  I have also linked to one of my favorite writers Eilat Aviram whose work centers around growing and healing through parenthood.

This is why I say I have three teachers.  They are relentless, demanding, and also just what I need.

In the most tense moments as a mother I remember I am being given a chance to learn.  I can act from a place of balance and neutrality or I can shout and feel like a complete idiot.  (There is no in-between with me.)

My Kundalini Yoga mentor Nam Joti Kaur opened one of her recent classes with a question: "What does it mean to be a yogi?"  When a few of us fumbled some half-answers, she said, "To be a yogi is to live on the diagonal."   

Since I have bipolar disorder, this sounded like a laughable, un-achievable goal. At my worst I am all to one side or the other, either acting from: 

  • an overdeveloped Negative mind (also called the protective mind = "Ooh scary, Not gonna try that! Better cut that off right now.  Where is the chocolate?")
  • or a purely Positive Mind (Yay! Nothing can possibly go wrong here!").   

Both can be dangerous when not balanced.

Then it struck me that meditation and yoga may be my best chance at taming the two-headed beast, by developing my neutral mind and applying that to parenting.

It is easy to hear a truth and difficult to live it, to embed it deeply into your heart and mind. The Neutral Mind opens the gate to that deep remembrance of the self and soul...The Neutral Mind lives for the touch of vastness. It lets all other thoughts be without disturbance to your constant inner light." 

-from The Mind: Its Projections and Multiple Facets, 
by Yogi Bhajan, Ph.D. with Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, Ph.D.

Sounds glorious, doesn't it?

As a mother and a woman dedicated to developing my neutral mind, I wanted a spiritual name to mark this change in me.  

After a couple weeks, it arrived. My spiritual name is Sach Indra Kaur, which means "the Princess/Lioness of God whose divine consciousness is immersed in truth." I read that and cried a few quiet tears and then chuckled and thought, "Ok, I'll have to work up to that."

I will get there because I am worthy of joy, and even bliss.

Well said

Know that love is there, 
but not felt until you clear away the noise. 
Pain is loud, peace is quiet and subtle. 

Embrace exactly what is. 
Shift the power into your hands.

Stop striving. Stop begging. 
Beggar asks others for love. 
Master provides for herself.

From Breaking the "Hallmark" Trance by GuruMeher Singh

Soul Friend

Anam Cara, the title of a popular book in the 90s, is Gaelic for "Soul Friend."

This phrase was bouncing around in my head for several days, and I couldn't remember where I'd heard it.  Google was kind enough to provide a definition, but I already knew what it meant to me.

The person you meet who just gets you, who is kind and open-hearted, but will call you on your crap...This person is your anam cara.  You have an inexplicable connection and automatic trust.  

It's possible that your husband will roll his eyes when your back is turned when you say, "Well, Mary thinks...."  Mary is probably not the only soul friend you'll have in your lifetime, but until you've learned enough to progress to another, she is of central importance to your decision-making.

Somehow, she immediately sees the real you and also the potential you.  My first soul friend was Jane in high school.  I was a clean cut über born-again Christian and she was a punky, theater genius with a nose ring.  Even so, we talked a lot.  She challenged me and made me laugh, and then left me after saying that my lies and masks were hurting me and her and everyone around me.  I am so grateful she did.  

At the time, of course, I was too submerged in unhealthy habits and was not ready to take off the blinders and look at my heart.  

My next soul friend was in college. (Incredibly, he is still my friend.)  Jeff thought I was hilarious and I loved to make him laugh.  He was a gentle truth-teller, and modeled an authentic life for me. 

Professor Canfield was one of my favorite French teachers, and also a soul friend.  He stepped into the classroom and shook the hand of every person in the room.  He'd stop, take your hand, and ask, "Comment ça va, Rachelle?" He, too, modeled how to live a life with passion and gusto and sincerity.   I felt like I could stay in college and in his safe orbit forever.

My next soul friend, was in graduate school.  I signed up for a mandatory, "Foundations of Education" course, not really knowing what I'd gain from it.  Professor Woodhouse walked into the room in all white clothing, and Birkenstocks, with a rush a fresh air, and looked right into my heart.  She taught me everything.  We started with breathing (no joke).  After 3 minutes of proper breathing, I was crying.  The tears were escaping and it felt great.  She had us ask ourselves a series of questions like, "Where does your water come from?" and "Who were your ancestors?"  She taught me to take an interest in my story and in my surroundings.

My current soul friend lived right across the street from me for a time.  Kelli and I still talk regularly and about once a week she will ask, "Have you heard of the book...?" She is plugged into the collective consciousness.  I love our conversations because we are talking on one level and simultaneously communicating on another. 

Kelli, I love you with all my heart chakra, friend. 

When open, the Heart Chakra allows one to feel connected to others.  It is the transition between the lower 3 survival-related chakras and the upper 3 chakras, which are more spiritual and "other-oriented".

I am grateful for the role these people have played in my awakening to truth and to the others whom I didn't recognize. Thank a soul friend today.

Full Circle

There is a surprising thing about homeschooling that you may not believe:  the more time you spend with your kids, the easier and more enjoyable it is to spend time with your kids.

To people who say: 

"I couldn't homeschool. I just need a break from my kids!" 

I say: 

"Trrrruuussst me - I need a break, too."  

In our house, we spend some pretty focused time together in the morning.  By 1pm, we have been debating, reading, eating, whining, encouraging, crying and laughing for several hours together.  The kids don't want to see my face for a while. And....likewise.

One of the reasons this works, is because there is no principal's office to keep little Johnny if he throws his shoe at your head during the math lesson.  You can't say to the state officials, "Well, I had a really big headache that morning, so we just didn't cover long division." If Sally is going through a phase, you are the only person who can help her move through it.

It is the same with meditation and yoga.  The more time I spend with myself, the more I like who I am and the more I trust and enjoy the process.

Instead of your children as students, you are your own student and teacher.  You are accountable to yourself.  If your discipline is lacking, you will not progress as quickly.  

In both homeschooling and my personal spiritual journey, I have started to recognize and appreciate the rough, awkward situations that I have to face.  It makes me feel like I am watchful of my thoughts and actions.  

My Kundalini Yoga mentor, Nam Joti Kaur, warned us recently that we would should expect to face "our stuff" throughout our mentorship.  As a published author, blogger, and respected yogini, she chooses her words carefully.  This was no exception.  "Stuff" is the best way to describe those secret little/big parts of ourselves that we hide from the world.  Fear, embarrassment and so many other darker emotions tell us to hide it.

We are even afraid to name it sometimes, right?

I have a blog dedicated to naming that stuff already, but I'm guessing other "stuff" has taken its place when I wasn't aware.

One of my favorite readings in recent weeks was about yoga practitioners who stopped at the frame of each door they passed through to ask themselves, "Am I awake?"  This sounded useful to me.  When I started doing this, the release of tension in my core and the deep inhale that followed reminded me how easy it is to be lulled to sleep by routine.  We have to consciously choose to enlighten ourselves and stay awake.

In the last few weeks I have slowed down in my writing to reflect on how different I am from the person I was 2 years ago.  It was the understanding that there is nowhere to run from yourself that led me to start unpacking all the stuff I had been carefully hiding.  The neurotic habits I had, and the trapped feeling that suffocated me were actually a good thing.  They were my heart shouting out, "Hey!  There's a bunch of SHIT in here you need to deal with!"

So here's to looking at your junk and dealing with it.


I have been surprised to learn that keeping my family functioning and happy usually doesn't require many things or activities.

It is more about keeping out things we don't want.  

In the same way, keeping close to God (and therefore remembering peace and wholeness) usually means actively filtering out unhelpful information, distractions, and even insidious antagonists.  It means tuning into universal truths.

I believe that goodness will always win out over evil, light over darkness, love over division, in every hero's journey, real or imagined, but I believe the darkness also comes in innumerable forms while the light is really one sacred truth.  It takes time, experience, and courage to discern between those things that are revealing light and those that are favoring darkness. 

Here is another classic quote close to my heart from Le Petit Prince:

Now there were some terrible seeds on the planet that was the home of the little prince; and these were the seeds of the baobab. The soil of that planet was infested with them. A baobab is something you will never, never be able to get rid of if you attend to it too late. It spreads over the entire planet. It bores clear through it with its roots. And if the planet is too small, and the baobabs are too many, they split it in pieces . . .

It is a question of discipline," the little prince said to me later on. "When you've finished your own grooming in the morning, then it is time to attend to the grooming of your planet, just so, with the greatest care. You must see to it that you pull up regularly all the baobabs, at the very first moment when they can be distinguished from the rosebushes which they resemble so closely in their earliest youth. It is very tedious work," the little prince added, "but very easy."


One afternoon early this spring, my boys and I were pulling weeds and trimming plants, when I heard a question many moms have answered: 

"But why do we get rid of the dandelions?  They're so pretty."

"Dandelions are weeds."

"Why is it a weed?"

"Let's go look that up."

Dandelions are non-native plants that crowd out native plants, reducing biodiversity.  They proliferate quickly and randomly.  They are very hard to get rid of.  

Things like...

  • judging other people
  • trying to control every situation
  • forgetting to take care of ourselves the way we need to
  • and letting others determine our worth as people  

      ...can run rampant, just like dandelions.

When we pray together at mealtime and when I meditate each day, it is our family's way of "attending to the grooming of our planet, just so, with the greatest care."