Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I had one of those days yesterday.
It was one of those dragging, burdensome days where everything seems heavy. It was a day of obligations and responsibilities. It was one of those days where the word “should” seemed to be attached to every thought and every action.
I’m in the process of starting a business geared towards helping men achieve better work-life balance. Much like this blog, the purpose is to help men fully embrace the gifts brought to them by their children in order to make their lives more happy and meaningful. Anyone who has ever started a business knows how much work it is and how many risks are involved. There are many internal battles. On one hand, there is the vision and promise of fulfilling and meaningful work and the potential for more freedom at home and time with my family. On the other hand, there is the risk and financial uncertainty that can put your family’s security in jeopardy. On some days, like yesterday, the latter got to me. I was feeling the weight of doing the “responsible” thing—settling down in some 9-5 job to put food on the table. The thought of that made my stomach churn and my head ache, but the call to “responsibility” would not relent.
Finally, after a day of brooding and struggling, I came home. I had left the house before my son had gotten up, and he was now asleep. I entered his room and sat on the foot of his bed. He looked so peaceful as he slept—so light and unburdened by the grown up world. I watched him breathe. I watched the way his little back raised and lowered with each breath. I saw his little nostrils gently flare in and out.
As I sat with him in his stillness I was overcome with love. Tears welled up and flowed freely down my cheeks. There was such wisdom in my little boy’s simple act of just breathing.
Breathing is at the core of so many of the world’s religions and philosophies. Focusing on the breath is designed to bring us into the present and be fully aware of the now. Inadvertently, my son was doing just that. Just by breathing—by being, he was inviting me into the truth and beauty of that single moment.
As a simple exercise try this with your child. The next time she is asleep, sit with her. Don’t think, just observe her breathing. If you are suddenly overcome by feelings of love or sadness or joy, just let them happen. Don’t judge it. Don’t question any of it. It is a gift from your child, a gift of bringing you fully into the present moment, a gift of opening your heart.