Learning to Swim

I was watching my son take a swimming lesson. He was practicing floating on his back. I stood outside the pool, fully clothed as his teacher guided him onto his back and gently coaxed him to trust that the water would hold him, that in fact he didn’t have to fight, he did not have to kick, he could in fact simply float.

In that moment, his not yet even 4-year old form, floating, face upward, be-goggled, tanned, flat tummy exposed to the sun and the air; he looked peaceful, and beautiful. And then something changed. Was it a splash from another kid? The scream of another kid scared of the water? Regardless, something startled Michael, and his calm demeanor, his angelic perfect-float-was ripped away, and he began to splash, claw, grasp, gulp, and thrash.

My stomach tightened and I had to restrain myself from jumping in to save him. His swim-teacher, the “Swim-whisperer”, was right there. Michael clung to her desperately until she set him on the side step of the pool, where he caught his breath and felt the safety and solidity of the step beneath his little butt. And soon, his sense of calm and play returned. For those few moments, his little body lost faith, lost his bearings, the pool had all at once become something so big, so unimaginably frightening that simply staying afloat seemed to be too-much, too overwhelming, and it was simply terrifying.

Have you ever felt that? That sense of there’s just too much coming at you and too much being asked of you, and it doesn’t seem possible to fulfill on everything.

Everything becomes overwhelming. And what can be done?

We tend to get overwhelmed when we start stacking things on top of one another. We are trying to hold it together all at once, like trying to inhale without first letting go of the last breath. Observe for yourself when you start to move from one thing to the next without allowing one thing to complete. Observe when you find yourself taking the next call while you’re still on with another call; someone else is on the line and you are already onto the next call, never resolving your present needs.

It is at this moment that you can make the decision to “Stop.” Stop yourself from holding everything in and start taking everything one-step at a time. Check your MAP. What is your “Mood?” Simplify your “Actions.” Ask yourself what it is you wish to be “Producing” at this moment. A practice to remember is to complete your thought, allow a full breath, and only then move from center to begin fresh entering into a new moment. This way we are always here, in the now, and we aren’t ahead of ourselves, or lagging behind replaying the last moment, the last point, the last phone call. When we are in the moment, use our MAP, the journey is more fun, satisfying and what we produce is a richer, more resilient self.

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