My daughter and I have looked at many colleges over the course of the summer. We’ve looked at schools across the gamut. We’ve toured urban universities that look like a city block of sky scrapers and rural schools where the nearest mall is — well, there is no nearest mall. We’ve seen huge state universities and tiny private colleges. We’ve visited schools down the street from our house and others that are hours away from home.
At each stop, half of my awareness is on seeing school – is it pretty, safe, clean and filled with other kids who look like potential friends for my girl? At the same time, the other half of me is watching her. I’ve been waiting to see that little spring in her step and sparkle in her eye that means she’s found a place she can imagine spending her first four years of life without me.
Wouldn’t you know I’d finally glimpse that excitement in her at the school on her list that is the farthest from home?
Honestly, I felt the same thrill as we drove through the town and got our first peek at the campus. As the people in the Admissions Office welcomed her, were generous with their time as they explained to her all the ways the school was fabulous for her and then pointed out that she might even qualify for an academic scholarship she beamed. My heart swelled and, simultaneously, plummeted. I had to take a deep breath and blink several times as I literally muscled away devastating thoughts of her being so far from home — from me.
After those rapid blinks, something in me shifted into “yoga mode.” As we walked around campus, we laughed when we get lost. We commented on how nice everyone seemed to be – especially the girl who stopped to point us in the right direction. We found a great shirt in the bookstore. We sat on a bench to watch the students hurry by to their classes and both were excited that we’d found this place that was a really, really good fit.
In “yoga mode,” I was 100% in the moment. I was enjoying my daughter. I was sharing in her excitement. I was taking in the energy and beauty of a college campus that could have been a movie set. I was laughing and smiling and happy because each of the moments that we spent on that campus were just that – happy.
In “yoga mode,” I was not allowing my mind to wander from the moment. I was not imagining life when – to laugh with my girl – I’d need to be on the phone. I was not envisioning her empty bedroom. I was not letting myself think about how ready she is (or will be in a few short months) to spread her wings and fly. While none of these thoughts would have been fanciful, none of them would have been helpful either. They would have served only to dilute what was a long series of very happy moments with my daughter.
It wasn’t until the next day on my yoga mat that I realized what I’d done. As I moved into Kurmasana (Tortoise Pose), my mind skipped back to how happy she’d been on that campus tour. If you haven’t ever been in Kurmasana, it is not a pose that allows for daydreaming. It’s challenging and requires focus, breath and more than a little will power. When my breath caught and tears started to flow as I imagined my girl so far from home, it was the pose that brought me back to the moment. I tucked in my low belly, took a deep breath, stretched my legs a little longer and pressed my arms back into my thighs. I went deeper and – in that deep place – I found (again) the gift of “yoga mode.”
My body, mind and heart all settled into the moment. And it was good. It was good the way each of the moments we’ve been given in this life can be when we settle into them. Really, really good.