Saturday, February 13, 2010

Getting Into Alignment

I had headaches nearly every day for about two months, starting in December. It wasn't a debilitating migraine, but more of an annoying, low-grade pain that got to worry me. Over the course of those two months, I went to an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, a chiropractor/kinesiologist, a dentist, an endodontist, a masseuse, a regular MD, a hypnotist, and even got a CT Scan to try to get to the cause of the pain. The cause of the pain remained elusive and mysterious, so I was given many different medicines to help me ignore it and feel it less. This is not normally the way I like to treat a problem - to make it go away temporarily without actually confronting it and dealing with it, but it turns out I really like to sleep and my headaches were interfering with that, so I occasionally took those medicines that didn't make me too cloudy.

I tried to think of what happened in December that might have made my head hurt and I could come up with only two: I started a regular yoga practice and December was a really low point for homeschooling.

It could have been that some of the medicine, like penicillin and a natural aspirin for inflammation kicked in and resolved a physical problem, but I don't think so. In December I bought a yoga mat made of polyurethane. My kids seem to have problems with products made of this material, but it never occurred to me that I might have a problem with it. Not only did I do yoga on this smelly mat, I stored it in my bedroom, which may explain why my headaches started during the night. When I thought about the connection, after a bad headache one evening following yoga, I stowed it in my garage and have not had a headache since! However, this does not explain several trips over the last two months that took me far away from the mat yet still had headaches.

The other more intriguing possibility has to do with homeschooling. I think I have been out of alignment, and I don't just mean chiropractically speaking. I think and talk a lot about education models that are more student-centered, that are more experiential, with plenty of depth and choice by the student of what is studied. I talk and think a lot about education that is marked by curiosity, freedom, strengths, and creativity, instead of one marked by pressure and fear. I really do believe in all that I say and think in this regard, but my actions do not always mirror these beliefs. It is sometimes as if my head is separate from my body and this misalignment caused me (and Ronan) plenty of problems by the end of the year, even physical pain. The worse things were going, the more I grasped for control and led with fear and pressure. The more I did this, the worse it got. By December I was going into my room to have myself a little cry out of sheer frustration several times a week. Things were not going well because I was not practicing what I preached, and Ronan, my teacher was letting me know it.

Eventually I started accept what was going on without fighting it. I decided to apply my Buddhist practice and Love and Logic approach to parenting to my teaching practice. In mid-January I wrote about this in my blog( but it sometimes takes longer for behavior to follow intention and to make it a habit. Every day after that article, I got more skillful and mindful as a teacher. I became more compassionate and equanimous and homeschooling started dramatically improving. The last few weeks have been fun and our relationship is much more loving.

Interestingly, I met with a visiting Guru this summer, before homeschooling was even a thought. Among other things, he said that Ronan did not have dyslexia or any other problem and that in six months, he would be fine. This was one of the many things that turned out to be true, but I think he meant that once I got myself in alignment things would be "fine" for both of us.


  1. I'm so glad to read this. Welcome back!

  2. Don't be too hard on yourself. You have great expectations of yourself and wonderful goals but we're all human.

  3. Thanks, Mary-Helen. Liza, you are right, I am too hard on myself. I looked up in my Louise Hay book (she talks about how physical problems can often be connected to emotional problems) and headaches were about self-criticism. I guess I needed to be nicer to myself!