No Mud, No Lotus by Lenora Degen

A lesson for adults and children in uncertain times.

I think it’s safe to say no one has been untouched by the threat of the virus Covid-19. For those of us not physically affected by the illness itself, we are truly fortunate. But no one will come out of this unchanged.

Even infants born during this time of restriction and shutdown have been deprived of visitors. Parents of newborns have been left to do everything alone at a time when friends, neighbors and family would normally be offering help. Elderly people, already sometimes isolated, are even more alone.

As we look at the possibility of children returning to school, we are stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place. Possibly risking our children’s health or keeping them away from the classroom, teachers, specialized professionals and their peers.

I think there has been ample conversation on the difficulties of the “Stay-at-Home” and “Safer-at-Home” mandates, so I will not labor on that, but, rather, look at what we might be able to do to keep connection for kids and guardians through these unchartered waters.

I don’t believe in sugar-coating the facts or looking only at the bright side. But I do believe that in every difficult situation there is a hidden “gem” that often is not visible for a long time after the difficulty has passed. This idea is not original. It is referred to in many spiritual ways, but my favorite is the Story of the Lotus. Easy for children to understand, I use it regularly in yoga classes with kids, but also in my adult classes. Maybe it speaks to you as well. I invite you to share the lesson with your children.

“No mud, no lotus” has become a popular phrase. Basically, it means if you don’t go through the difficult times (mud) you don’t get to the reward (lotus). Through perseverance and hope, we reach happiness.

Disclaimer: In the U.S. we often confuse the lotus with the more common water lily. They can be distinguished by looking at the center of the flower. If it has a cone-shaped seed receptacle, it is a lotus. Otherwise you are looking at a water lily. Often we see a lotus represented by a water lily (and vice versa) in photos and drawings. For the sake of this lesson, because they both thrive in mud and still water, we will refer to them interchangeably.

If you have a pond nearby that has lily pads and flowers, make a little field trip out of this lesson. Sit by the pond and share the story of the lotus.

Story of the Lotus

Deep in the murky, “icky” water of the pond lie mud and dead leaves and fish and insects.

[You can make up yoga poses to represent these things. Use tree pose for the leaves, pretend to swim for the fish, choose your favorite insect to be.]

A tiny seed begins to sprout.

[Child’s Pose or curl up in a “ball” as small as you can be.]

It is not bothered by the mud and other things trying to keep it down. It just pushes and pushes through it all with all its might, every day,

[Slowly unfurl, reach your “stem” to the sky.]

until finally, one day, it reaches the surface of the water and meets the sun and blooms into the most beautiful flower imaginable.

[Stand up fully and greet the sun.]


You can make this as simple or detailed as you like. Truly, when I teach kids lessons like this, I am amazed at how quickly they “get” the message.

The best part of a little lesson like this is that you are spending one-on-one time with your kiddo(s) away from screens and distractions. And the lesson is most important for us, the adults. We need this kind of reminder regularly. “No mud, no lotus” might become a mantra for these difficult times. We will be changed, but we will not be broken.

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