Parenting From The Present
Jess Osie is a Vedic Meditation teacher, mother, and community group facilitator who’s on a mission to empower her meditation students to awaken and embody their deepest essence. At the root of all of Jess’s teachings is a simple, actionable message that allows her and her students to incorporate ancient wisdom directly into the lived experience of modern life. Her personal narratives and insights have never felt more relatable for the modern mother and woman.
In this conversation, Jess and I speak about the subtle aspects of motherhood that bring extra awareness and bliss to the mundane moments. We dive into what it means to move through our days in a devotional way and to see natural rhythms as our biggest guides and teachers. We also talk about leading by example when it comes to helping our children foster healthy self care and self awareness practices. I hope this conversation inspires a new understanding of surrendering to our sacred role as mothers and gives a new perspective on parenting from the present moment. Enjoy!
Q: Welcome Jess! How has your background as a Vedic meditation teacher and forever student of the Vedas allowed you to witness your role as mother with more grace, surrender, and devotion?
In the Vedic worldview, there are two forms of surrender – ‘surrender by defeat’ and ‘‘surrender to the feet’. Surrender by defeat is what most people in the west are familiar with – we could experience it as being forced to yield, to unwillingly let go, or feeling victimized. ‘Surrender to the feet’ is an act of surrender with devotion. We actively, consciously and willingly let go of our own individual preference or agenda, and soften and open to what is present in the moment. Letting go of the fallacy of control and the need for perfectionism, that is true surrender.
As a mum, the practice of surrender starts from the very moment we conceive. All of a sudden, our bodies are dedicating themselves to creating a human. As time progresses, we surrender our time, physical energy, conscious attention and mental space. It’s a minute to minute practice to fully surrender to what’s unfolding in each moment. We surrender who we once were, in order to be the mother we are now.
Ultimately, when we surrender with devotion, we are choosing to let go of a personal preference in order for something greater. In the Vedas, we call this ‘yagya’ – a willingness to let go of something precious to us, for a greater experience of the whole. Every moment is a yagya. And when we embrace life in this way, that is when we find grace. You will find an entire chapter in the vedas dedicated to this.
On a practical level in motherhood, we consciously devote our ‘soma’, or flow of consciousness to our child. We are present with them and for them; to their needs, to their cries, to their desires and even to their tantrums. Ultimately, we surrender deeply so that our child may grow and thrive, whilst we as the mother, can share in the experience with grace and ease.
Q: Vedic meditation is such a powerful tool for new mothers! In my experience, it’s my anchor amongst all the moving pieces that grab at my attention throughout the day. How has your meditation practice brought depth to your motherhood experiences and why do you believe all mothers should give themselves the space to sit in meditation?
I believe Mothers are the first Guru in a child’s life, meaning, we are their teachers. They imitate our speech, actions, behavior, demeanor and so much more. And we have a responsibility to show up as our best selves and bring that to our journey with them as they grow.
So much of modern society in the western world has us thinking that mothers should be able to do everything on their own, and look perfect whilst doing so. I often wonder, what happened to the village life? What happened to the collective nourishing and honoring the mother for her role in bringing life and creation to the world, and allowing her to do so at her own pace, in the organic rhythm of her and her family? As mothers we spend so much of our time dedicated to the wellbeing of others, and we need to balance this with nourishment and taking time for ourselves.
The practice of Vedic Meditation is a simple and effortless technique where we meet ourselves for 20 minutes twice a day. Time that is purely dedicated to nourishing ourselves and teaching the mind and body how to surrender with ease.
This then becomes a habituated way of Being, and affects the way we respond to daily life. In particular, as a mother, we learn to move and adapt with the changing expectations of daily life, and surrender to the flow of life as it arises. We viscerally experience the mind moving inwards, letting go of the stories, patterns, worries, “shoulds”, and speculations and we connect with our inner truth.
In this deep connection to Self, both the mind and body are resting very deeply. We know the nature of the body in the state of rest, is to heal, detox and purify. And so, we let go of past experiences, we remove stress from the physiology and we lighten the load we are carrying. This nourishing rest provides us the adaptation energy we require in order to meet the demands of the day. So that we may attend to our babies and children, work, partners and friendships, feeling full and vital – giving from a place of fulfillment as opposed to depletion.
I can think of countless moments where my practice has helped me from tipping over the edge. A good example is in the writing of this blog. I was at home getting Indi ready for daycare and things were moving at a snail-like pace… And Indi was doing the classic “bait and switch”, asking me to do one thing, and then quickly changing her mind and having a tantrum when I didn’t follow along. The window of time I had carved out for writing was fast diminishing and I could feel my frustration rise as Indi continued to delay and delay, demanding for time and attention. I could see that no amount of me pushing or rushing was going to solve anything – it was like swimming upstream in a river. So I surrendered. I allowed myself to embrace the downstream current, be with her and her needs and quickly and creatively re-shuffled my day. In my own experience it’s afforded me the capability to stay deeply present, and calm and attentive to the need of the time.
Q: You and I are both exploring what “slow motherhood” looks like for ourselves and our families. What inspired you to pause, access the pace of your rhythms, and ultimately come to the realization that a slower pace (with more intention) might be the perfect salve?
I think life as a mother is a tender and delicate balance. For me, between my devotion to our community of mediators and to being a present mother, can at times, I can often feel I’m being pulled in many directions.. As mothers we wear so many hats, it can be easy to just go through the list and tick the boxes. And to feel as if we are constantly in a space of ‘doing’ rather than ‘Being’. So for me, the idea of ‘slow motherhood’ isn’t about choosing between roles, I have learnt that it’s more about living ‘intentionally’.
In the midst of 2020, I found myself saying, “I can’t do it all”. I was mothering my 2 year old, running my own business, supporting our community of students, running a household and being a loving wife. And in that, I saw that realizing and saying out loud, “I can’t do it all” actually gave me such relief. It’s not that I didn’t have the capability to do all those things, but rather practically, there are too many hats, and too little time to wear them all. And so I decided to re-assess and dream up what it would be like for me to slow down and move with more intention through my days.
With so much of the collective measuring their worth against how much they achieve, it was important for me to honor the process and let it unfold organically, choosing to align with my own rhythms and family’s needs, as opposed to some “idea” of what it’s all supposed to look like. It has meant deciding what’s most important and prioritizing that, doing that well, with joy and grace and either delegating or simply letting go of the other stuff.
Intentionality for our little family means having space on the weekends for us to decide what feels best in the moment, it might be a spontaneous trip to the markets, to the park or simply grounding at home. Tony and I have a monthly planning session that we call ‘Dreamtime’ – a term borrowed from Australian Indigenous culture that relates to the creation and storytelling of the world. In these sessions, we dream up not only what’s possible for the next month, but what it would look like to live in alignment with our highest values, to feel utter joy in our creative expression and to give of ourselves to our family, community and greater world in the most impactful way.
Q: The ability to fully embody our roles as mothers often comes with the understanding of the sacredness in the mundane. How have you transformed your personal practice (before motherhood) to be more of a “living practice” now that you are a mother?
The other day I was preparing Indi’s school lunch. It’s always a big rush to get out in the morning and, amongst a sea of other tasks (and mentally preparing for a day of work), the preparing of food was by no means a glamorous task. From one perspective, it’s just another little check-box item that needs to get done. But on the other hand, it’s an opportunity to infuse my own soma (flow of consciousness) into the food that will nourish her for the day.
It’s as if, on one side of the river is the riverbank of the mundane. On the other side is the riverbank of sacredness. Between these two banks the river, the lived experience of motherhood is roaring with intensity.
I‘ve always said that motherhood is a test of one’s enlightenment. All the spiritual practices and learning done prior to having a baby are literally put to the test. It’s one thing to have beautiful knowledge and wisdom, and it’s another to integrate, embody and apply it – particularly when there’s so much demand as is in Motherhood.
But the mundane is all there is. It’s moment to moment, real life experience. And much of the time we aren’t being watched or witnessed, meaning that who we truly are is exactly who shows up. The question we must ask ourselves is, who do we want to be? Behind closed doors? How do we want to live life when all that matters is our direct experience and not our perceived experience? Which side of the river do we want to live our life from?
And silently, we practice. We practice devotion and surrender in the smallest moments, as well as the biggest. We experience awareness in the present moment by coming to our five senses and grounding in the here and now.
Q: Daily rhythms and rituals can be the guiding pulse, providing steadiness throughout the day and changing seasons. What rhythms (routines) or rituals have you found offers the most nourishment for the times?
Vedic Meditation, of course, has been the backbone and number one support during my entire motherhood journey. Throughout my pregnancy, birth and well into postpartum, it’s been a space in which I connect with my deepest essence. It’s also incredibly nourishing, as it’s time and space that’s just for me.
I also found, during my studies and experiences of Ayurveda, I have connected deeply with my cycles and natural rhythms that reflect Nature’s rhythms. I absolutely love my moon cycle and as best as I can, carve out time alone and in silence on the first 1-2 days so that I can connect with my womb, let go of anything that is no longer serving me and detect the seedlings of new intentions to come forth.
It’s important for me to create structure through rhythm and ritual, so that I am able to access more flow. For example, this year, Tony and I have created a new ritual where we sit at the beginning of the week and go through our various scheduling, admin and to do lists. We start with an intention and end by placing important pieces like flowers, crystals and talismans on our ‘Brahmasthan’ which is the energy centre of our home. We then end the ritual by offering each other a blessing or intention for the week. We’ve found that by doing our weekly ritual in this way, we ground in the sacredness of our home. It then acts as an anchor for us throughout the week.
Q: So much of motherhood is lived in full surrender to what is. What does prayer or devotion mean to you and how does it influence your ability to surrender to the larger cosmic orchestra at any given moment?
Devotion to me, is the highest form of love. It means giving from a place of fulfillment, rather than duty, depletion or guilt.
t’s an experience of our divinity and it occurs when we are fulfilled within. We must give and show devotion to ourselves and not only to others. Being devoted to the practices that keep us balanced and nourished, allows for a generous giving of our energy and soma, or flow of consciousness.
Life is like the waves, made of ebbs and flows. It’s a long beautiful river flowing downstream. When we fully surrender, from a deep, heart felt space, we can embrace what is and move alongside the flow, not against it.
In moments of tenderness, or when I feel I’m being particularly challenged, I dig deep and ask myself to fully lean in to the moment, rather than lean out. Being able to control is an illusion. Leaning in, is never as bad as the mind projects it to be. In that way, we can consciously choose to align with nature, with our surroundings and with what is happening in the present moment, rather than resist it.
Q: Both of our daughters are reaching that age where our own personal practices become their personal practice. What simple mindful activities do you do with your daughter to bring intentionality into the flow of her day? How has she adapted these activities and made them her own?
Rather than teaching her my practices, I try to follow her rhythms. Kids are naturally and spontaneously mindful because they are so fully present. They see and observe things that most people don’t notice. They find joy in the total mundane. I would say that our children force us to be present because everything in their world is happening NOW, and it’s a big deal. This year, we’ve also carved out time for a special day, just for Indi and I. We call it “girls’ day”. I book time away from work and chores and spend the whole time with her, fully present and available. We often start the day by me asking her how she wants to spend it and we go from there! That’s a personal practice that we now share.
Of course, Indi has grown up with meditation being part of her worldview. Right from in the womb, she has been exposed to and shared the biochemistry of meditation. From early on in her life, I would meditate whenever I got a chance, whether it be in the car if she fell asleep, or after I had finished breastfeeding (in Vedic Meditation, we have a special program for newborn mothers to support them in catching up on rest).
Nowadays when I teach meditation courses, Indi gets upset if she can’t meet our “new meditation friends”, she often gets her way and we end up starting the class with her on my lap. Meditation is completely normalized in her world. And when she’s ready, I will teach her the kids technique where children receive a ‘word of wisdom”, similar to a mantra (emphasizing that the choice to learn will always be hers).
Since Indi was 11 days old, she received an abhyanga (Ayurvedic massage) before bath and bed. In Ayurveda, we recognize the importance of physical touch and how that can be extremely grounding and pacifying for anyone, especially babies and children. Since Indi was one, she was determined to do her own abhyanga (cutest sight ever) and also kindly helps me in the morning to do mine.
I truly feel through this organic way of exposing and including Indi in our practices, we have supported her to build an awareness of self-care, and it has further nourished and balanced her to be a stable and blissful kid.
Q: For those seeking a deeper sense of ease and gratitude in their motherhood journey (but don’t know where to start), what would you tell them? What was most helpful for you in those beginning transformational years?
Firstly, be kind and gentle with yourself. You are doing your best in every given moment.
The second, is that it’s hard to feel grateful or have a sense of ease when we are operating from deep depletion. Naturally, if our body is in a state of ‘lack’, the mind will feel that too. So it’s important to seek support. The kind of nourishing support that brings you into a sense of balance.
And of course community – I feel collectively we are starting to remember our tribal nature. We’re realising the importance of leaning on others who have come before us and are walking the path beside us. It truly takes a village to raise our babies, and ourselves as Mothers too.
And lastly, learn Vedic Meditation. It’s an absolute game-changer for the transformational journey of Motherhood – nourishing us deeply on a physical and emotional level, replenishing our adaptation energy, gaining greater awareness, connecting us to the present moment, and learning the art of surrender. More gratitude and ease will flow naturally from these states.
Please reach out if you’d like me to connect you with a teacher in your area.
Q: Any “must-read/must-see” resources you’d like to share to inspire mothers to live more with the present moment?
❋ Vedic Mama’s Circle is a 5-week journey dedicated to honoring and nurturing the sacred role of mother. Through exploring the practical application of Vedic wisdom, weekly exercises and a supportive community, we uncover the beauty and wisdom inherent in this ongoing personal evolutionary process.
❋ Our Seva Blog is such a beautiful resource that offers conscious and supportive ways to understand the journey of motherhood.
❋ SunChild Affirmation Cards – Positive affirmation cards for children to support kids’ light at every stage of growth
❋ The Conscious Parent by Dr Shefali Tsabari is a well-known book for parents. She helps us to understand that the parenting journey is actually a process of self-discovery in order to empower our children.
❋ Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Dr Sarah Buckley. I love this woman and her deep, embodied understanding of the physicality of Motherhood from her medical background.
❋ Birth Time is an incredible documentary made be three Australian women on a mission to revolutionize the landscape of birth and empower women to make aligned choices when it comes to birthing.
❋ Nature is our greatest resource – go for a dip in the ocean, walk amongst the trees, feel your bare feet on the grass, breathe.
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