A few days ago, Hazel, my 11 year old daughter, asked me to cut her hair. Our afternoons have been pretty full so I didn’t get around to it but this morning after breakfast, she looked me in the eyes and in a very serious tone of voice, asked if I would cut her hair after she got home from school…today. This afternoon, as soon as she walked through the gate, she dropped her backpack on the floor and we got right to it.
We were in her bathroom, her hair was wet and all combed out, and we started talking about the haircut she wanted. She gestured somewhere above her shoulders and said she wanted her hair to come to about there. That meant taking six or seven inches of length off. It was a big change. I wasn’t sure I was ready for it.
For the last few months, Hazel has asked me to French braid her hair almost every morning. It only takes a few minutes, but it has been such special time with her. I’ve come to see braiding Hazel’s hair is one of those wonderful mom-privilege. It’s a simple, quiet, and intimate exchange and it’s so tender to be able to do this for her. I love how much she likes the braids, how creative she is with her ideas and visions for what she’d like to look like and it’s a gift to get to be a part of that. This simple act of braiding her hair is a part of helping her become who she wants to become, at least for the day. It’s so great.
I started cutting in the back, but I could only bring myself to cut a few inches off. Some part of me thought, “When she sees this, maybe she’ll like it more than that other idea she had and it won’t have to change that much,” only I didn’t think it, I felt it. When I started to cut the hair on the sides, she could see what I was doing, and in a thoughtful way she said that this wasn’t what she wanted. She said it patiently as if I hadn’t understood, clear about what she wanted. She said she wanted her hair to be this length, gesturing above her shoulders once again, and then she pulled a little rectangular piece of paper torn from the edge of her sketch book out of her pocket. It had several creases and was soft from hours of handling. On it, she had done a pencil-drawing of a girl, or maybe of a young woman, with a haircut that was shoulder length and over the top, she had an arrow and the words, “my haircut.”
It was in that moment that I could see that I was attached to this way we had been connecting— this intimate, tactile expression of love, and I didn’t want it to end. The length of her hair isn’t my decision and even though I wasn’t ready for the change, she clearly was. She had thought about it, reflected on it, and was excited about this new look. I started to see that this haircutting time is another opportunity for Hazel to express something that came from inside of her and I was invited to be a part of this and to help make it happen. I cut her hair the exact length she requested and she is so happy.
Yoga Sūtra II.7 sukha-anuśayī rāgaḥ
Excessive attachment, or rāga, is one of the forms of avidyā. If we have a wonderful experience and we want to repeat that again, even though circumstances and situations may have changed, that’s rāga. The actions that come from that place will keep us from seeing clearly.
This Saturday, 2/28/2015, begins the first of a workshop series to explore the 8 limbs of Yoga. We’ll meet once a month for discussion and practice and you’ll have opportunity to continue your exploration and reflection between sessions. If you live in or near Austin, TX and you’d like to be a part of the class, CLICK HERE for more information.