Again, another bike ride. How can I resist? These wonderful late summer days which are soon to be fall -- cooler, brisker and perhaps some hesitation on my part to go out for these rides. It feels good to take my body and mind out for a ride, a good opportunity to sync the two while I quiet down my busy mind and contemplate for awhile.
As I began my usual route, I was thinking about the obstacles to being present and how these rob us of the time shared between humans. Specifically, there was an example this morning to illustrate this realization. My son had something to tell me. It was 6:30 a.m. and time to get my oldest out the door for his bus. There were lunches to be finished, breakfasts to be made and eaten, coffee to be enjoyed, and other morning routines to be followed. He looked at me with intent and I was mindfully aware of a choice to be made, either I continue on with my morning routine only half listening or I drop my busyness and give him space to share. I chose to drop all my doing, and yes this is all necessary doing because everyone wants to eat, have clean and folded clothes, and have a somewhat organized household, but I also dropped the extra thinking and mind racing. I stopped, looked directly into his eyes, took a deep cooling breath and opened to receive his words.
The point is this -- if we invest in the moments our kids really need us (or when anyone really needs us for that matter), we begin to create a new culture of paying attention and valuing the human interactions that meet us throughout our days on earth. When someone has something that needs to be said, and shared, it takes a lot of the stress, irritation and whining out of the interaction when we drop our doing and stay still to receive. Since when we avert from these moments, children, as well as adults, continue their strategies to gain our attention which creates a lot of drama, requires much more energy and interferes with our present task at hand anyway since none of us can really multi-task effectively; and had we only stopped and became present with a deep and cool breath of our heart and mind, all the additional nagging could have been prevented.
It takes more time and exertion to stop the flow coming from that other human than to simply quiet for a moment and offer the space to another to share. We all experience less frustration; and it really feels basically good to open to another human being this way. This is love in action. It is compassionate listening. It is not magic but it is magical. It is rather ordinary and wonderful and available to all of us. But it takes some practice and reminders and an awareness of all the wonderful benefits of actively listening and connecting with another.
Our children and other humans really aren’t asking for a great deal of time, but the time they do request, if offered completely, without distraction and expectation, can lead to an interaction which is much more fulfilling and dynamic. Human interaction can be based on a direct connection with very little obstacles if we so choose. Complete reception and total listening allows the interchange to go unimpeded and it feels good, basic, decent, and dignified and does drag on into a dramatic exchange that leaves feelings hurt and energy tentacles trailing behind a person who feels unheard or unloved.
I am realizing that my time alone on my bike rides offers me a space to contemplate and become aware of how to be a more fully engaged, open, present, and ultimately joyful human being; and to think all my youngest son really needed was about 120 seconds of my open heart.