Sunday, August 29, 2010

Who Has Time for Reflection!

Enjoying my foamy cappuccino at the local cafĂ©, I watched a young child in her stroller being completely ignored by the adults she was with, who were both talking at such a rate you’d think they hadn’t had a grown-up conversation in months. You might also think the toddler would complain, but no, she was content to contemplate her world. First her toes, then her fingers, then the parasol tassels fluttering gently above her, then back to her toes, before gazing, at length, at the bird hopping around the table in search of a stray croissant crumb. I couldn’t help but enjoy her quietly reflective spirit and like most young children, her ability for natural contemplation.
Adults and older children are usually busy and involved in ‘doing’ or anticipating, or being stimulated by activity, and, (as was perfectly demonstrated before my eyes), will tend to sweep any dreamy toddler away from a savoring moment with a “Come on, we’ve got to hurry!” or “Stop daydreaming!” or “We haven’t got time!”
Stillness, time for refection, contemplation, just BEING in the moment, is for most people largely absent and not something we tend to prioritize in our day-today lives. Yet it is a very basic need if we are to effectively handle the stress, uncertainties and over-stimulation of today’s world. What a conundrum – no time to implement the one thing that would help us to handle our perpetual ‘no time’!
Maybe what we really need to do is turn to our little ones for examples and inspiration and reminders to take a moment for contemplation, reflection, even awe and wonder at the moment we are in. Maybe then we will have the experience of making more sense of it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Finding Wisdom.

A Japanese master received an eminent university professor who came to inquire about wisdom. The master served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. ‘It is overfull. No more will go in!’
‘Like this cup,’ the master said, ‘ you are full of your own opinions, speculations, and hypotheses. How can I show you wisdom unless you first empty your cup?’

I love this story - such a good reminder of how ‘knowing what we know’ can interfere with our opportunities for learning, and so finding wisdom. It also makes me think of a study I once read about judgment; feeling judgmental is apparently one of the most insidious emotions we can have and the hardest to shift. The best counter-feeling? Appreciation – of what is!
Lovely. I am just now appreciating a nice cup of tea .................

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lesson Learned?

What is there to learn from falling? I mean literally, physically falling – and breaking something, like ones arm. This thought flashed through my mind as I went diving downhill, having stumbled in some loose paving (photo). Even before I had fully landed on my poor left forearm, my mind was focused on one thing other than the landing; what am I supposed to learn from this fall?
Well, ten days, two broken bones, one surgery, unlimited excruciating pain and a course of antibiotics riddled with side effects later, I think I know the answer: Rest and focus. Or should I say rest SO I can focus. Although this concept is not completely foreign to me(!), now I have had no choice but to implement it.
Interestingly, this ‘answer’ and having no choice but to carry it out, has given me a feeling of peace, (I AM resting more!), and so even with one arm incapacitated by a cast & sling, I am now experiencing being more focused, more creative, and getting more done than before. Amazing! Lesson learned?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Parent Power

A young boy wakes up in the middle of the night, thirsty and wanting a cuddle. He gets out of bed, opens his bedroom door and slowly tip-toes along the hallway. As he gets to the top of the stairs, he sees a light under his parents’ bedroom door and recognizes urgent whispered voices coming from inside. Thinking of that wished for cuddle, he knocks lightly on the familiar door, pushing it open before anyone has a chance to respond. His mother is standing with her back to him, hands on her hips, facing his father who is seated on the bed, glaring angrily.
Neither parent responds immediately, but the little boy can feel the tension and knows that all is not as it should be. “What’s wrong?” he says, in a sleepy, husky voice.
His mother drops her hands and swings around towards him as his father turns his attention to him with a sudden smile on his face. “Hey son, what are you doing up?”
His mother also has that smile on her face now, as she crouches down to his height. It feels weird.
“I’m thirsty,” he mutters. “What’s wrong?” he asks again before anyone can divert his attention.
“Nothing sweetheart,” replies his mother, with a smile he doesn’t believe. “Let me take you downstairs for a glass of water.”
“Are you fighting?” asks the little boy, undeterred.
“Of course not!” says his father, with an outraged voice. “We never fight!” The boy is sure he has heard them fight, many times. Why is his dad lying?
“Now go with your mother and get that water. You should be asleep, you know!”
“Yes, you should be asleep,” his mother echoes. “Come along now, let’s fetch that water and get you back to bed.”
The little boy goes reluctantly with his mother. He thinks about the cuddle, but is afraid to ask – they’ll probably say no. He feels confused. He doesn’t know why.
After he drinks the water, his mom takes him back to his room. “Don’t worry, honey. There’s nothing wrong. It’s just your imagination. Everything’s fine!” she smiles - that smile. It doesn’t feel fine.
“Go to sleep now, ” she whispers, shutting the door behind her.
He slides down under the covers and lays there in the dark, thinking. He feels an uneasy feeling in his tummy, just like when he is nervous or worried. Why is he feeling this way? He doesn’t like it.
Mom said everything was fine. Moms and Dads are always right, aren’t they? That means he must be wrong. Yes, that’s it! He is wrong about what he feels is happening, about the fighting and tension and weird smiles. He must stop listening to his feelings - then he won’t feel so yukky. “Everything’s fine, I’m wrong, everything’s fine, I’m wrong, everything’s fine……..” he whispers, like a mantra, to himself in the dark.

Many adults recollecting their childhood may remember such an incident, - when they started to disbelieve their own ‘inner knowing’, or intuition, because a parent or other well-intentioned adult told them that they were imagining something that they thought they knew. How about you? If this does resonate, how much work have you had to do, as an adult, to re-connect with your intuition? I know for my part, I cannot count how many hours I spent in workshops, therapy & self-help to get back in touch with and trust my own inner knowing.

Suggestion: Whatever your intention, next time you want to tell a child that he or she is imagining something, STOP, take a breath, and ask yourself if they really are…..