When I think of the word “inside” I often think about what it means to “go inside oneself” and where that is exactly. This week’s photo challenge seems fitting because for the last several days I’ve been inside my head pondering the many changes that have happened in my family recently and wondering what lies ahead for us.
When I snapped this picture two years ago, I simply asked Hannie to show me her best “yoga pose.” We had finished our first family yoga class, but even before she had been officially introduced to yoga or learned the name of a single pose, she seemed to innately understand that yoga involves mindfulness, closing one’s eyes and going “inside.” Indeed, the reason I felt a push to take her to class was because there was so much chaos going on in our family life then, I was reaching out for any way I could help her begin to learn how to connect to her “inside” place. Little did I know that inside her 5 year old mind, she was already making those connections.
When I showed this same picture to one of Alex’s teachers at his specialized school for kids with autism, she also fell in love with it. She printed a beautiful color copy and drew lines underneath for Alex to write a story about it. He wrote:
“Hannah is my little sister, she is great.
She is sitting down for yoga map.”
He wrote “map” for “mat,” not fully understanding why people use yoga mats or need anything special to help them sit like that. But I think he also kinda “got” something else about the picture– that his little sister was tapping into a resource, something inside, that was helping her. Thinking about it that way, maybe sitting for “yoga map” is fitting– because a map is supposed to help us get where we’re going, isn’t it?
The picture, with Alex’s neatly printed summary, is framed in Hannah’s room. I hope that as she looks at it over the years, she’ll be reminded of all that is inside her that she can access any time to help with whatever is happening in her life on the outside. And also that she will remember her brother (and the people who love her) recognize how special she is, whether she is interacting with the world, or going inside to find her own strength.
Finding this photo and writing this post has actually helped me feel more compassionate toward myself today. I tend to be self-critical when I retreat inside and hide in my turtle shell. But maybe this week, going inside has just been my mind’s way to connect with my map and move to where I need to be.