I’m drowning in a sea of plastic containers. Where there were once only a few, they seem to have multiplied to the point of needing to occupy the most spacious drawer in our kitchen. They are constantly coming and going with school lunches, they are holding unidentifiable matter in the fridge, and for some reason, finding a matching lid is always a challenge.
The proliferation of containers is just part of family life. As family life gets busier, as food becomes more and more central, as more food is being transported, left over, frozen for later, the pile of containers grows. Food and the management of it is just a big part of life with kids. There’s buying, storing, preparing, cooking, cleaning and of course finding it smeared and wedged in unlikely places around the house.
No wonder Tupperware became a worldwide phenomenon. Mums and dads world over just want to scoop it up and put a lid on it. And after some experience, we all know that it’s worth spending a bit extra to get that airtight seal and avoid that sticky spill in the fridge.
Much of a disciplined yoga practice is about building a strong container. Many of us who practice yoga begin to consider deeply the care we take for our bodies. As we become more attuned to the sensations arising from our bodies and minds, we take greater care in the food we consume, the rest we give ourselves, the everyday maintenance of this organism. We set aside time and space to take care of our physical postures and mindfulness practices. With what initially looks like constraints we place on ourselves, we have actually made for ourselves a container in which we can begin to know ourselves better and create more freedom within.
Without all those containers in the kitchen, I’m not sure how we would actually cope with the tide of food that enters and leaves our home each day. But armed with our trusty containers, there is some order to the chaos. Lunches are packed, leftovers are stored (even if they are relegated to the back of the fridge, never to be seen again), extra food can be frozen. The options available to us are more orderly, useful and can allow us to move forward more freely.
Yoga practice, tupperware, or any other place in our lives where we create a stable and strong container serves the same purpose. The containment is what affords us freedom. Otherwise there is just mess.
We often feel that in family life we are being restricted by the responsibilities we have to partner and our children. Natural boundaries are created in our lives around our time, space, finances. However, these boundaries are a means for containing the plethora of options available to us at any one time. With containment we have to get creative, we have to become efficient, we need to be focused. With containment we get to know the contents of our lives so well that we can take this as an opportunity to grow and refine within these boundaries.
While I may curse the proliferation of tupperware in my kitchen, I have come to appreciate the simple joy a tough, leak-proof container can bring to my life.