At a recent trip to the beach I had the good fortune to watch the interaction of many families enjoying themselves ,each other and the ocean. It’s actually one of my favorite things to do at the beach. As I returned from a walk I saw a father holding his young son, sitting right on the sand right near the waters’ edge. The little boy, maybe about one year old,was turned facing his Dad, snugly fit against him, his head draped over his father’s shoulder. Something about them captured my attention, it was the father’s quality of stillness and un-distractedness. I had the sense that perhaps his son had been frightened or upset and that he had all the time in the world to hold him until he felt OK again.
This was my story anyway. I felt myself become still inside just watching them, the way I do when I see a deer in the forest. After a while the little boy began to squirm and then he moved out of his dad’s arms and started to explore around him. Then he went back, then he went to explore. What I noticed was that the dad’s stillness and time, gave the child what he needed to feel safe and ready to play in the world (right around his Dad anyway) again. I wondered what it be like to give myself this kind of time to calm down when I am upset. What if all of us grown ups could do that?
Even with my mindfulness practices, I think I am still in quite a hurry to calm down. I imagined myself offering myself that kind of patient attention, in stillness. And I have been making this my practice. Why be in such a hurry? it doesn’t help anything.
I invite you to practice slowing down with yourself especially when you are upset. But why not do it when you are happy too!