I was around seven years old when my mother did her yoga teacher training in Kundalini yoga.
She had just finished a five-year doctorate and was desperately seeking to reconnect with her spirit and do anything but academic study.
A chance meeting with a Kundalini yoga teacher at her local gym inspired her to explore this fascinating style of yoga that incorporated both kriyas and yoga movement with mantra meditation and a big focus on spirituality.
My mother continued her normal job after completing the yoga teacher training and never taught full-time yoga, and yet her life—and mine—was never the same afterwards.
People often talk about their own transformation on the yoga journey, but I think there is something to be said about the cascading impact on those in our families and the people around us—and especially children.
As Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, “In a family, if there is one person who practices mindfulness, the entire family will be more mindful.”
Yet, as I discovered, this impact can be both a blessing and a curse.
The Paradox of Conscious Awareness
Besides yoga becoming an integral part of our home from a young age, both my parents went on to become trained consciousness coaches. So yoga, yoga philosophy, and personal development principles were a core of our daily discussions and values as a family.
This was an unusual upbringing for anyone in my community, and it meant that by a young age I was given every resource to develop a startling level of awareness and self-awareness.
On the one hand, this was absolutely magical. I cherish my memories of my mom blasting Kundalini mantras from her radio while we ate breakfast before school. And when I started to explore my own individual spirituality and yoga practice in my teens, it opened my whole world.
It started my lifelong study of spirituality and personal development and is a core origin of my work as a writer, poet, and teacher on these themes.
And yet, the paradox of this was what my parents often jokingly called “the Consciousness Curse.”
While I never had my mom’s direct experience of a relative telling her yoga was “the devil’s work,” I felt how my different values, awareness, and sensitivity set me apart from my peers at school and beyond in my life going forward.
Yoga had just started to enter the mainstream when I was growing up, but Kundalini yoga and anything more spiritual than a scented candle was seen as far too “out there” for most of my more traditional community.
Not just that, but my awareness meant that I struggled to stand idly by while my teenage peers gossiped or shared mindsets and beliefs that I knew to be harmful from my conscious upbringing.
My attempts to change the status quo or share my full self with peers didn’t always work in my favour and I remember many an afternoon after school crying my heart out from people bullying me for my perspective.
My mom was always there to soothe me, but she also couldn’t fix the world for me.
Embracing the Paradox
My entry into the world of conscious awareness was through my mom’s yoga and things like seeing her practice yoga every single night—which she’s done now for 20 years!
For others, it could be discovering astrology, taking a course on mindfulness, or the influence of a conscious parent or trusted person.
Since I was in school, nearly 10 years ago, I do feel like there has been a shift in the world when it comes to people’s openness and exposure to different kinds of yoga, meditation, and spiritual practices.
Yet, I still think it’s a pervading experience for many of us on the spiritual path that while there is such magic to be found on the journey, there is also a separating factor from mainstream society and community that we have to navigate.
And for children and teenagers, our huge need to belong makes this paradox all the more difficult especially in schools and universities that are not always bastions of nurturing and acceptance.
It was lonely for me and was a painful lesson about human behaviour and how I needed to seek belonging and connection with others with more discernment.
I think it’s normal to see our awareness as a curse sometimes. Though, as I’ve reached my late 20s now, I’ve come to be grateful for the paradox of it all.
While it feels slightly gag-worthy to say “What doesn’t kill, makes you stronger,” I truly believe that for every painful experience and interaction we are strengthened and able to grow our capacity for forgiveness and compassion for others with different paths from ours. People with their own traumas and upbringings and “stuff.”
Our pain could be our catalyst for being a force for good in the world and even starting a career in healing. It was for me.
So to all the yoga practitioner moms, past, present, and future, your children thank you.