When I spend time with children (as I often do), their carefree spirit makes me become aware of a tension-filled nature that I am often living from. They are little walking reminders of a part of me that I recognize but have ceased to tap into for some time.
Why am I not able to effortlessly live carefree as I did as a child? Where did that carefree spirit go? Did it leave me entirely or is something simply covering it up.
In one of my recent blogs, I spoke about a hidden treasure that lives in each and every one of us. That treasure is not a "thing", but more of a "carefree space" within ourselves that we can align ourselves with. Some call this the present moment. Some call it "being here now."
If we are speaking or acting from this place of presence, from that carefree place, than our words and actions will be carefree as well. If we are speaking and acting from thought, our words and actions will then be forceful, full of tension and misdirected.
So ultimately, it's not that we are unable to live carefree as a child. It is more that we are living and acting from the wrong place within ourselves which can never do anything but create tension. A thought-based life is a tension-filled life - plain and simple.
The problem is that we have lived a thought-based life for almost our entire existence and because it has become a certain "master" of our lives, it can be quite difficult to remain in the present moment but for fleeting moments here and there before thought captivates us once again.
When you see young children bicker or get upset, they don't carry that interaction forward. They have their fit and it's done and over. They naturally start over. They don't have a difficult time looking at the person who stole their toy. They easily interact with their friend that just the moment before said a mean thing to them.
As parents and adults, can we say the same thing?
Perhaps children can teach us something about letting go and about the futility of holding onto painful thoughts and feelings. Perhaps the key to carefree living is letting go and not holding on.
But letting go of what? Holding onto what?
A thought-based life. It always boils down to that.
To most, that sounds quite absurd and I understand that, because all we have ever known to do is think about everything and everyone. What would our lives be without thought to guide our every word and action?
I urge you to try the following: After someone says something or does something that you don't like, I invite you to not think about what they just said or did. What you will find is that you are unable to not think about what they just said or did, and there's great revelation in that discovery.
First, we discover that we are not the thinker, for if we were, we would be able to not think about what the other person did or said. I just want to make it clear as well that suppression of thought isn't the same as not thinking. Suppression is a form of resistance and it actually creates more of what is trying to be suppressed.
Second, we discover that every single interaction we have in and with life, creates a carryover of thought - a certain re-visitation of it in our mind.
Could it be that that carryover is filled with tension and when our attention is caught up in that carryover dialogue, it creates a careless life, opposite of the carefree one that we would prefer to live.
If that is true (and it is), then we know what needs to be done.
We know that every interaction we have with others, with life itself, always triggers "the thinker", and if it always triggers the thinker, then we can intentionally keep our attention on the present moment in those moments. We can learn to become aware of the thinker and the thoughts, instead of being identified with them.
And as we do that, we will come to recognize that carefree spirit within ourselves that never really left us - it was we who left it.
Exercise for the week: See if you can become aware of the tension in your body. Do a "body check" throughout your day. Catch and release that tension.