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Tension is who you think you should be.  Relaxation is who you are.

~ Chinese Proverb

It’s been 17 days since I checked Facebook, and I haven’t missed it at all.  Well, I’ve missed staying connected to my Inside Out & Mothering with heART communities – that is for sure, but the act of reaching for my phone to check it throughout the day – that I don’t miss.

I recognize how Facebook adds noise to my life.  Before I know it I can easily get caught up in a flurry of distraction as I’m commenting on my friend’s posts, or getting worked up about an article on GMO’s, or wasting time reading about the top 10 tips for getting my body into swimsuit shape.  Ugh.

Sometimes I feel like logging into Facebook is like stepping into the restless minds of everyone we meet throughout the day.  So much noise. Will I get back on Facebook?  Sure.  It’s how I stay connected to so many dear friends from around the world.  I love that we can all communicate in that way.  It’s just nice to take a step back and become more mindful of how things, even ones we enjoy, can add clutter to our lives.

I have so enjoyed this month of unplugging.  I’ve spent a lot of time at the pool with the boys.  This is the first year that my oldest is picking up the whole swimming thing.  What a joy to watch his joy as he discovers how much fun it is to swim.

At the pool I’ve noticed some parents pushing their kids, almost forcing them, to learn how to swim. These are young kids, too.  Now I’m all for gently guided our children past their comfort zone.  What I’m talking about in particular is yelling – lots of yelling and demanding and even threatening. I heard one mom yell at her son who wasn’t listening to his swim teacher, “If you don’t do what she asks you I will make you do bobs and back floats for 30 minutes in the bathtub tonight!”

Watching my own kids pick up swimming, I am reminded that kids, like pretty much everything else in life, unfold in their own time.  We can’t force them to swim, just as we can’t force our present situation to be anything other than it is.  Pushing, yelling, demanding…doesn’t make them learn to swim any faster, nor does it make life go our way.

We try to control things.  We try to control others.  We are scared when life isn’t going according to plan.

Sometimes I watch how these parents push their kids and I wonder, should I be doing that too? I feel an inner tension creep up as I question, am I not pushing my kids hard enough?  But then…that day comes, when they just get it.  Yes, exposing them to the water has helped.  Signing them up for swim lessons has helped.  Gently guiding them through their fears has helped.  And practicing patience has helped, too.

So often we think we can grasp life – take hold of it – and force it to be a certain way.  But the more I walk down a spiritual path the more I learn that it’s when I let go and relax that life presents itself in a new way.  That when I let things unfold in their own timing, (like when I back off and let my kids be who they are), the shift takes place.

And you know what all that grasping and forcing does?  It sucks the joy out of the present moment! These parents that I see yelling at their kids – I don’t see them having any fun!

As I continue to slow down and savor the precious, simple moments, I have a newfound patience with myself (and my kids), which in turns adds a deeper sense of relaxation to my life.

Rather than jumping into the next project (or hopping onto Facebook) to keep myself busy (or fill up space) when I’m feeling like I should be doing something else, I’m sitting with the restless feelings.  I’m observing them.  And it’s in that space of observation that I see the beauty and the lessons that come from being more present and in the moment.  And the beauty that comes from letting things…unfold.

Slowing down feels really good.

As hard as it can be sometimes.

Watching my kids unfold in their own time feels amazing.

Even when I wonder if I’m doing enough.

Everything has its own timing.

We can’t force the kids to learn when they aren’t ready.  We can’t make life change before doing the work.

What we can do is be kind – to others and ourselves.  We can relax and lighten up.  We can step into the flow of the present moment by slowing down, eliminating distractions and simplifying our days.  We can stop filling up the space when we feel restless, and instead, just observe our feelings without reacting.  We can feel the ease that happens when we let go of the tension, embrace patience and learn to relax.

So let go.
Breathe, smile and soften.
And let your life (and others) unfold…

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Your Personal Reflection:

Become an observer of yourself today.  What’s causing tension in your life?  Are you resisting the present moment or trying to force something to be other than it already is?  Can you practice patience and see what it feels like to relax?

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