The joy of finding balance, creating headspace…and a nice cup of tea. By Siri Arti
I’m writing this column from Taiwan while traveling for work. Ten days into my trip, I become aware of empty space in my head, and although an oddity, it’s also a revelation. It took me a while to reach this place, and now that I have, I notice how rare it is. I begin plotting on how to protect it.
As soon as I arrived in Taiwan, I worried that my children would struggle without me. I also regretted taking an extra week beyond my work commitment just to travel the island. It seemed selfish, and I also missed all that offers me comfort: my home, my children, my pup and my routine. Then I recalled why I took the extra week and encouraged myself to accept the adventure. The truth is I have been feeling stuck for a while. I felt frustrated by domestic chores and the lack of spontaneity showing up in my days.
I was bored but too scared to admit it. An opportunity to travel appeared and although nervous to leave my teenagers on their own, I grabbed the chance to escape and booked time out from my family, my chores… shopping, cooking, cleaning and being mumma-uber. It sounded good in theory, but there is always a process, and it has taken me 10 days to arrive at the current space in my head.
Calm & spacious
So here I am, sipping oolong tea in a quaint café in the Beitou District of Taiwan, feeling calm and spacious when I notice a song playing softly in the background. As sneaky as sabotage can be, the song catapults me back a few years to a time when my daughter played the song repeatedly on her guitar. She was having a hard time and this song kind of told her story. I’m far away from home and still, the song takes me back to this sad story as if it were happening right now. As I recall that time, the space in my head is replaced by memories of a darker period. Tendrils of thought threaten to run amok. I run the risk of taking the bait and travelling back in time to re-live the experience, but in my newfound protector of space role, I choose instead to let the memory go and gently bring myself back to my tea and the present moment.
As parents, there is a lot to occupy both our time and our minds. This becomes habitual behaviour and is relentless. From the moment our babes are born, we worry. The more children we have, the more we have to organise or worry about. Of course, we celebrate life too, and experience joy and bliss and all that good stuff, but the worry takes residence in our parental selves and forever after, our task is to hunt down an elusive balance.
So here I am in a café, sipping tea and being mindful, without a chore in sight. I have finally managed to let go of all that binds me, and I notice that delicious sweet spaciousness again. A gift so valuable I wrap myself up in it and treasure the moment. I notice the soft music playing, the fragrance of the tea, and the calmness in my body and I silently give thanks for space and tea.
I’m thankful that I listened to my frustration and had the courage to create time for myself, and that my teenagers are surviving without me. To protect this space, I vow to create moments during ordinary day-to-day life as a parent; and to enjoy space and tea whenever I want to. And as my days in Taiwan are nearing an end, I’m off to enjoy the hot springs for the afternoon to celebrate my breakthrough. I wish you all moments of peace too, so we can collectively create enough space necessary to feel grateful for all that we have. May we always remember to make space for tea.
Siri Arti is the founder of Starchild Yoga which runs yoga teacher training courses in the UK and overseas. Find out more at starchildyoga.com