When I teach, I explain tantrums to be anything that distracts us from being purely present in our meditation or yoga exercise. An itch or a knot in our back that suddenly emerges, thoughts that arise to keep the mind busy with things other than what we are doing, arms getting increasingly uncomfortable and nagging to be put down, the yawns… and the thought of keeping up with the movement or stillness any longer that feels like more work than we signed up for.
Our tantrums make us crazy, and we think they want us to stop doing what we are doing. But in fact they are communicating with us through sensation, and we get a chance to listen. A whole foods chef once told me when I was experiencing a small breakout on my forehead: celebrate! Your body is releasing toxins.
Our tantrums are releasing the agitations and the accumulation of stress and trauma that have been locked in certain areas of our bodies from years of numbing and busying. They are also telling us to listen to ourselves and take care of the injuries in our bodies; to pay attention.
When we learn to have a different relationship with our tantrums, we take back command of our minds. I once worked on an exercise that strengthens my core, and I couldn’t do it for more than 30 seconds before my tantrums and physical capabilities took me down. Eventually I built it up to 3 minutes. I learned a lot about patience and quieting the mind so that my body can follow. I had to let the tantrums work themselves through; to feel them through as I did the best I could, which was a little bit better every day (and on some days one step back), which is totally different from letting the tantrums take over and succumbing to them.
Love is a practice in understanding, patience, kindness, acknowledgement, acceptance, and discipline in the face of tantrums. It cries, gets angry, laughs, and it stays present. But it doesn’t give up just because it feels hard.
Our current home-boundness is like one long yoga set taking us through massive and shifting tantrums. Let’s go through them. Let’s practice some Love.