When she was six weeks old, her father left for a weekend trip that had been planned long before she arrived. On the last day of being alone with her, I found myself gasping for air, searching for any space where I could set her down without the incessant wail that followed me from every bassinet and spread of blankets.
Everywhere I looked was a disaster that I had left behind. Dishes were piled next to the sink. Laundry was wet and growing moldy in the washer. I had imagined it would be hard to keep things together, but I didn’t realize that it would be impossible. The weight of my expectations was heavy on my spine.
A container for life
I discovered the Ayurvedic treatment of snehan when my daughter was eight months old. After my first treatment, I cried for an hour. As the tears flowed, I struggled to understand how lying on a wooden table while someone gently rubbed oil on my body for 90 minutes could create this kind of release. But it did, so I let myself swim in it.
I eased myself out, wiping the salt from my eyes. The world had a new kind of clarity to it. My view was more honest, sharper and vibrating with the full experience of life. I saw what it would mean to anticipate this need to empty and breathe. I no longer needed to let it burst out in an explosive wave of pain.
Ayurveda is self-care
When I traveled with my daughter alone on a six-hour plane ride last summer, I booked a snehan at my destination, and one again when I returned home. I booked one when vata shot up during the transition from summer to fall. And another when the aches of carrying a well-fed Ayurvedic toddler began to catch up with my joints. The dark, warm treatment room, filled with the musky scent of Ayurvedic herbs, is my container. It is where I come back into sync with my own heartbeat. Where I can be silent and still and touched in the gentlest way I have ever known.
I don’t cry every time I get snehan. But I do soften. After a treatment, no matter how many dishes there are to be done, how much laundry to fold or how many emails I have to answer, all I want is to be in the fullness of my experience. Here, I can rest in the expansiveness of my service as a mother, but see that my first duty is to myself. This is a comfortable place, an honest place. When I find it, I ease my daughter onto my lap, stroke her fine baby hairs and chant a sweet song of devotion.