motherhood

Of Hiding and Seeking and Finding Our Inner Voices

HIde-and-seek: the universal game where getting lost is only half  the fun.

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.
— Alan Alda

Recently, my almost four-years old wanted to play hide-and-seek and of course, I obliged. We spent some time in the backyard, taking turns between counting to ten and finding good hiding places. Listening to his infectious laugh when he was either hiding or trying to find me was so adorable! The beauty of playing this game with a toddler is that there is no discretion on what constitutes a good hiding place. Anything would do, even if half your body is exposed. And then, his laugh is so loud that even if he found the perfect camouflage, the giggles would give him away.  To make it even cuter,  if I asked “where could Leo be?” he would scream “here!”  The innocence of children!

The importance of hide-and-seek is that is teaches kids the concept of object permanence. When they first discover the game, babies think that when they put their hands or a blanket over their eyes, things stop existing. By their toddler years, they learn that things or people still exist even when they cannot see them.

But I am not a teacher or a psychologist. I am not as concerned with this game’s developmental advantages other than those that interest me as a mother. However, yesterday in the midst of my son’s giggles and us practicing counting numbers and seeing how fast I could find a spot to hide I realize there is a big lesson for my spirit in this game.

Lately, the intention of my meditations has been concentrated towards connecting with my intuition. I have recently realized that when I stop paying attention to it, anxiety plants a flag in the cavernous terrain of my fears and insecurities. On the other hand, when I am alert to the predicaments of my intuition, I can maintain a very stable, peaceful state of mind.  Consequently, instead of trying to pursue peace, I am concentrating my efforts on cultivating my intuition. It has proven to be a more efficient, holistic and reliable source of calmness.

The other day, while seeing the way my son enjoyed our game, I realized how intuition is a soulful version of hide-and-seek. 

Intuition is seeking

Intuition asks us to seek deliberately, to have our eyes, ears, nose, mind and heart open. We may know what or who we are looking for, but the truth is that the reward is not only in what we find, but how we approach the quest. The fun starts in the hunt, and the reason is that we just don’t stumble into things, we search for them. In the game as in its spiritual counterpart, we have to own and want to participate in the quest.  People assume that intuition is some kind of divine information that comes to some chosen, privileged souls. But intuition is not given, is achieved by willingly embarking in the game. 

 

Intuition is taking action

When playing hide-and-seek, one of the players closes her eyes while counting aloud to give enough time to the other players to hide. Although I did not grow up with that tradition, I love when the seeker screams “ready or not, here i come.” What a powerful command! If we were to scream that to the universe, wouldn’t it make us feel powerful? Wouldn’t it make us feel as though we own the quest? This seems–to me–the best way to prepare for the search.

Intuition is patience

Intuition is also like the little kid hiding and waiting to be found. The thrill is knowing someone is looking for us. That is what makes a toddler giggle. It is knowing that even when we hide, the universe will find its way to us. Opportunities will come, and so will love and friendship and fulfillment. We don’t know how long it will take. It all depends on how well we have managed to hide. 

Intuition is trust

Intuition is the ultimate trial of trust. In the same way we are not sure where our playmates are but we are certain they are still part of the game, intuition implies a certainty that we will find something, that there are tons of information in the universe willing to come to our open arms (or eyes, ears, and hopefully hearts).  We don’t know where our knowledge comes from, but we trust it is real. It is knowing with certainty that whatever is hidden still exists even when we cannot see it at the moment or does not seem entirely rational. Intuition only thrives when we give it a safe environment to develop, and the seed of that is trust.

Intuition is playful

As little kids in the playground, we need to remain open and curious in order to develop our intuition. When we take our intuition too seriously, our minds take over, bringing out our darkest fears. As profound as it seems, to be completely in tune with our most intuitive nature requires us to be light and fun, to giggle, to be free, to see life like a game rather than a strategy session.  As we start doing better at that thing called “adulting,”  we become more rigid and serious. In fact, we become so boring that intuition runs away from us in search of more entertaining partners.  

Intuition is a great GPS

When we embark on the search of our fellow playmates during a hide-and-seek game, we don’t know exactly where to look, unless your playmate is a toddler that loves the predictability of a repeat hideout, that is. Most of the time, we have to follow our inner voice while we search in different places. Sometimes, we do not succeed in our first attempt. If that is the case, just like a GPS, we need to recalculate our route to search somewhere else, but unlike a GPS, the whole point of the game is that we don’t know what our final destination is.  Intuition is like the bread crumbs that guide us to enlightenment and to the ultimate attainment of our inner voice, even when the route can take infinite detours.

Intuition brings enlightenment

Maybe, a more accurate name for my son’s favorite game should be “Hide-and-seek-and-you-will-find.” The game is over when we find who (or what) we are looking for. Equally, intuition relays on its findings, most of those getting us closer to enlightenment. By paying attention to our inner voice we take the express route to the small and big answers, to the ones that open our hearts, the ones that take us down new paths and strayed us from the ones that are not meant for us. Intuition is like having an inner voice that tells us where everyone is hiding.We just need to quite the noise so that we can listen to it.

So, if intuition is like a game, why do we stop playing?

As my son and I recently explored the limited amount of hidden places in our backyard, I realized that what made the game really fun is that I was playing with him. It did not matter if we bent the rules, if he skipped a number here and there, if he wanted me to always hide in the same place. Being present and fully aware was what made it such a special moment. An in the middle of our game, hidden behind a playhouse where I could’t even fit, a knowledge hit me as lighting. I heard the inner voice.

“Keep playing, keep looking, hold your place and you will be found.”

And I giggled as a three year old and looked at the cutest boy come up to me and I thought how lucky I was. There are tons of things and pieces of wisdoms that still remained hidden, but there was no doubt in my mind that with intuition as my north, as the bow to my boat, I will find them. So, universe, ready or not, here I come…

The art of setting free

Recently, I had a very interesting conversation with a woman from India. She is a very lively, entertaining person and the conversation, besides offering lots of opportunities for a good laugh, was filled with interesting and thought-provoking topics. At one point, she mentioned how her father died a couple of years ago from a chronic illness. I immediately said I was sorry, and I was, I am kind of familiar with that feeling. But she interrupted me with her incredible candor to say a word that was new for me but it resonated in my brain and my chest with the echo that important words carry…

“Moksha.”

Although my daughter makes fun of me because according to her I am buddhist-wannabe and for being a yoga aficionado, I had never heard that word.

The woman, with the same lightness she used when mentioning her kids’ anecdotes, explained the concept. She mentioned that her dad had moved on and in doing so he had been set free from his disease. At the same time, he had liberated his family of the responsibility of  taking care of him while he carried the chronic illness, something they did out of the immense love they professed him. They were bound to his disease because of love. He was set free, emancipated from pain and that was a good thing. Moksha…what a beautiful, complex and selfless concept.


I felt a door opening inside me, as if I had been thrown in a forest where there were lots of fruits to collect. I knew I had to revisit the subject and explore why it has made such an impression on me. I could not stop thinking about it. I guess the fact that there was a word for such a complex process surprised me. But there was also the fact that setting free can a painful and inevitable process that we usually resist. Giving it a name seemed like a call to action to remember that it is actually a very natural notion that sooner or later will require us to act on its premise.


The following day I was distracted with other novelties. I was attending my oldest daughter parent orientation at college.  It should have been an anxious day, after all it is not everyday that we send our first kid away for college. However, while sitting with the other parents I found myself like an outcast.  I am proud we have raised independent kids. I am definitely not a ‘mama-hen”, if anything, I am more of a lioness like in “don’t hurt-my-cubs-or-you-will-have-to-deal-with-me” kind of mom. In fact, my daughter did all the college applications on her own, chose the school that was right for her and after taking a gap year after high school where she has blossomed into a very resourceful, motivated young woman, I know she is more than ready to leave the nest, to experience life, to carve her path, to make choices on her own, to make mistakes, to recalculate her journey. The day of her orientation I was filled with excitement for her more than fear.

 


During lunch, parents had the opportunity to sit down with professors from our kids’  majors. Next to me was a couple who talk incessantly. The kind of couple who speak on stereo: one shutdowns to let the other continue their story, and vice versa. They never let anybody talk because they monopolized the conversation in an orchestrated rhythm of back and forth interruptions. I was observing mostly, somewhat listening and honestly, mildly annoyed with the fact that in the short time we had I would not have the opportunity to ask the questions I had in my mind. Helicopter parents, no doubt. They even chose each of their son’s classes. Me, on the other hand, had been informed by my daughter all of the classes she had enrolled on without my assistance. I had to make a big effort not to judge, reminding myself that every parent is different and there was no good or wrong way to parent. But my mind kept insisting to go there and I kept fighting it. After all, it was clear that time was running down and I would not get another chance to sit down with my daughter’s professors ever again.

Then the loud couple, with their constant worries and intent to kidnap every intent of lunch discussion, told their story. When the woman was pregnant with their son, they were told he was not built for life and if he in fact was born, he only had a 10% chance of surviving. He was born and shortly after he had to had one of his several open heart surgeries. The boy’s heart was in the right side of his body, a very rare condition, and his circulation was inverted as well. Now, at seventeen, he was about to start college and be on his own for the first time. My own heart dropped. I felt so terrible at first for even having judged those parents who had fought for their son’s life and all the after effects of his disease.  Then I felt my eyes filling with tears. What a miraculous and full of hope story! I put myself on their shoes. If you knew your kid had very  small statistically chance of surviving, would you let him go?  What would it take for you to set him free? They were bound to him and his disability  by the love they profess him. Both parents were probably gone through so much together that they became a team who could finish each other sentences. There was “MOKSHA” all over that conversation. Two parents were bound to set their son free. And when we hold something so tight it is very hard to let go.  

I went through my own moksha moment. I had to liberate myself from my bias. I had been through a lot of challenges as a mom and I have known first hand how it feels to suffer when seeing our kids go though terrible pain. I realized that those painful moments have only made my kids stronger and more mature. I did not want that to transform me into an anchor for them. I fought every instinct to become a helicopter parent, and I mostly achieved it. But having won that battle I forgot we are all different and our reactions differ. That moment, excited as I was to imagine my daughter starting her college career in a place where she could thrive, I realized that I am going to miss her terribly too: our conversations, she calling on my shit with her kindest words, challenging my beliefs, her constant efforts to make us all feel special. It is exciting to see her fly on her own but it will be sad too. As independent as she is, I still value our time when we can be together as mother and daughter and most of the time, as two adults.  Deep down, below all that excitement for her future is my need to set her free. And as in death, as in letting a disabled kid leave the nest for the first time, as in realizing our belief system and our biases sometimes need to be shaken and  let go of even when it is painful. Part of my propellers, the ones I was not even aware I had, fell down that day and in gaining that understanding I felt liberated.

On my way home that night,  I  became aware I might never become a moksha expert, but at least I was aware of it. Stuck in traffic coming back home  I felt a few teardrops coming down my cheeks. They weren’t tears of apprehension, but rather of happiness for seeing my oldest on her way to building her own life as an incredibly wholesome, profound, kind human being. Everything she is, she has done it on her own. She is free to be who she wants to be. I felt free, as if I was noticing for the first time I did not have shackles, although I never felt motherhood imposed any kind of limitation. The freedom came from inside and it was reinforced with the knowledge that even when I think I know the answers, the universe will always put people on my way to teach me the most beautiful concepts of liberation and expansion.

Moksha today and tomorrow, because the more we love the more we need to set free!