This year we went to Cuba. It was a very long distance flight to Havana which I was not looking forward to as:
a) I do not like being out of my element - being up in the air for 12 long hours just doesn't do it for me (read: " freaks me out" )
b) because I had to "suffer" this flight with my two kids in tow, the youngest of whom is nine and who hadn't slept the two nights previously due to pure excitement, had eaten far too much at breakfast due to excitement and who was now talking non stop due to excitement.
"12 hours" I explained "is a long long time ." (hoping that reality would sober her up - it didn't). I knew the adrenalin would eventually subside around the half way mark and then I would have to deal with an even bigger beast: boredom.
So in an attempt to prepare myself psychologically for this, I stuffed my bag with ipods, ipads and sweets galore. I felt prepared and almost ready. I know, I know, I'm a Yogi Mum - I could say I filled my bag with books like "101 things to do with Kids and Dried Legumes", Suduko, Poems for Poppets or a sewing kit for creative kids, soya lollipops, colored pencils and paper…but that would be a blatant lie. I went for electronic devices -they work. I was prepared to break all the rules to get through this flight, and sometimes you know, the ipad saves nerves if not lives.
We get on the plane, My Youngest sees a little screen on the headrest of the chair in front, and perhaps even before the plane takes off , she starts to serial-watch cartoons. After about 6 hours she turns to me and with her little eyes red, glowing and peering out of two fine fissures in her face she utters the words I have been dreading:
"Mum, how much longer have we got on this plane?"
here I smile with a glazed look on my face whilst I my mind toys with:
"should I tell her the truth? I could aways say "1 hour" and hope she falls asleep for the remaining 5, and that she doesn't notice…will she sleep though? that is the question……"
"Mum are you listening to me?"
Once again honesty was opted for.
"Sweetheart another 6 hours I'm afraid" I try to hold her hand.
She jabs her little arms up into the air then her elbows are thrust downward hard by her sides and she shouts
"YES!!!! another 6 hours of cartoons!!!"
It wasn't that I was pleased as such but well…relieved I admit.
My daughter is addicted to cartoons, they do not bring out the best in her - after watching a few she's groggy, grumpy and has the patience of a rottweiler on a vegan diet. Nonetheless she likes them (cartoons not vegan dogs…although…..)
The funny thing is that after almost three months of being Cartoon-free and subjected to Nature, and away from Milan, she came home and actually started playing. Yes, even with Kapla - those little wooden brick things that kids of yogi mums are supposed to play with.
I was amazed and she seemed happy.
It got me thinking about Samvega - a yogic term for a kind of nagging often post-holiday (I think "post-holiday" because time away gives us the distance required to see things in a different perspective) depression which one tends to suffer on getting ones nose back to the grind stone and hitting the ground running.
But it's more than a depression. It's deep, reflective and insistent. And a great motivator as it projects us out of our daily stupor, which we are often blind to. On coming back after a long break, Samvega may strike and we realize that our previous sources of satisfaction (which for the likes of My Youngest, are cartoons) no longer quite hit the spot. We feel an urgent need to plug into our talents and gifts rather than waste time on doing stuff that leaves us empty. Tinder become tedious.
Other indications that we are smack bang in the middle of a Samvega cycle apart from the desire to find and use our gifts (and dharma) is when we also feel a need to pull ourselves towards our inner world, we need moments of reflection rather than avoidance, we need quiet rather than entertainment.
Yogic homework: take the time to reflect where and we spend most of our time to consider if we still get the same satisfaction from those activities/hobbies/people/things - do they replentish? do they provide "nutriment" for the soul? and if they don't, where should we be looking? what could we be doing instead?
Samvega is like an alarm bell shouting: time to wake up, time to filter! Ignore it not at your peril as such but at the risk of not finding your way out of the quagmire, and if you are really unlucky, back to Spongebob.
"Look to where you spend your free time, there you shall find your God" (I don't know where I heard this, but the wise words are not mine)