Survival Mode

No doubt you recognise this feeling of being in Survival Mode as a parent.

It literally starts from birth.  For some, it can even start in pregnancy, if the mother is not feeling well or if there is anxiety around the wellbeing of your baby.

This sensation of balancing on the precipice happens so often through parenthood no matter how great or how small the issue we are facing.  With birth, the giving of life, we are taken right to the edge of our feelings surrounding life and death.  With small babies we are faced with our basic need for sleep.  In the early days our concerns revolve around our baby's survival, their thirst, their hunger, their ultimate safety and security.  Then we end up feeling like we are just being pushed around by our very full and busy life with our children.  We feel swept up in the current of everyday life, that the waves are sometimes going to crash, that we're swimming against the tide.  Some days we are only just holding our heads above the water.

It seems we are often in survival mode as parents.  There are so many times we are just standing on the edge, hoping that we land with our feet on the ground rather than be left teetering and wondering how we will cope.

I survived the day

I survived the night

I survived toddlerhood

I survived their tantrums

I survived toilet training

I survived the teen years

I survived three under three

I survived the work-life juggle

When we are in survival mode it is difficult to see beyond what is just ahead of us.  It is near impossible to properly engage with ideas around finding our way back to who we are.  It is difficult to plan ahead.  It is a challenge to be present when we really just want to get to the other side.  

We desire to feel grounded

To reach dry land

To plant our feet on the ground

To lay down our roots

At the base of our spine, resting in the pelvic region is the Muladhara Chakra.  This centre governs our feelings around survival.  Am I safe?  Am I protected?  Do I have enough?  When we are in survival mode as a parent, fighting fires and being reactive to the stimuli coming toward us, we are manifesting an imbalance in the base chakra.  Until our base needs are secured and we can feel the sensation of groundedness, we will find it difficult to move fully into other aspects of ourselves.

We can very much liken the imbalance in Muladhara Chakra with the basic physiological and safety needs in the well-known pyramid of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  Chakra theory proposes, in much the same way proposed by Abraham Maslow, that the human organism is going to find it difficult to transcend to higher centres of our selves until we step out of survival mode.

When we are "in the trenches" with our children it can be really difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  To see how we can stop being just reactive and become more intentional in our interactions with them.

Yoga gives us the tools to cultivate an awareness in our reactions.  It is the techniques of mindfulness that are learned that help us to create some space between all the stimuli entering our space with our children and how we then choose to respond.  The way out of "survival mode" as parents is through opening up space between the noise of parenthood and our response.  In this way we can become intentional about our interactions with our children and really parent well.

This month I'm joining The Mindfulness Summit, a free online event with 30 experts in the area of meditation and mindfulness.  Will you join me to create some space to parent from a more mindful space, and begin to step out of "survival mode" with our children?

Sandra Wang1 Comment