Becoming the Eye of the Storm
Updated: Mar 23
When the world is buzzing around you, and you feel emotions rising as they prepare to erupt, how do you keep it together?
This past weekend, my family went to a conservation area for a walk. It was a beautiful day; the cold weather had subsided, and we wanted to get outside. So, we packed the kids and the dog in the van and headed out to join my wife’s parents.
“ Have you ever made a decision, or agreed to one, and then just as you set things in motion, you realize the other choice was more realistic?”
It was so nice to connect and see family outside of our home during COVID. The walk was beautiful although a little hazardous trying to navigate the slippery terrain. The entire path of the park was covered in ice. My in-laws and my wife had spike like slippers placed over their boots. I guess I didn’t get the memo. My experience felt much like that of a traditional Chinese woman whose feet had been bound, moving inch-by-inch down the path. My kids, on the other hand, enjoyed running and sliding on their knees. There are benefits to being closer to the earth. I had an added element of fun as I was dragged along by an eager 24-pound puppy. Good times.
At the end of the walk my father in-law suggested that we take the ferry to Amherst Island. It was nearing 2pm and I was hoping to get a little done before the end of the day. I expressed to my wife that it would be best to save the adventure for a time when we could spend the entire day on the island. I was concerned we’d be back close to bedtime and my wife assured me, as her father had assured her, that it’d be a quick visit. So, we packed up the kids and dog once again and headed to the ferry dock.
No Turning Back
Have you ever made a decision, or agreed to one, and then just as you set things in motion you realize the other choice was more realistic? Welcome to the moment when we pulled into the lineup for the ferry, put the vehicle in park, just as the kids jumped out of their seats informing us they were hungry and thirsty, while the puppy attempted to jump in the front seat. My wife and I both agreed, maybe we should wait for this adventure just as a few cars pulled in behind us blocking our vehicle in.
“ In what seemed like a few moments, we had gone from calm to chaotic.”
Here is another visual. In our van, we have stow and go, where the seats of the van fold right into the floor, leaving a flatbed. This option provides a lot of versatility for moving items, drive ins etc. and on that sunny Sunday afternoon the van had become a playground for kids to be kids and their puppy to be a puppy. The kids were wrestling, the dog was jumping, trying to nibble on them (we are at the teething stage) and every so often we would hear, “I’m hungry,” or “I need a drink.” The dog caught a whiff of something and was trying to dig her way under the front seat from the rear. In what seemed like a few moments, we had gone from calm to chaotic. I reminded my wife that I’d suggested we not join her parents, and what was meant as an attempt at humor, fell as flat as our flatbed. Just then we hear, “THE DOG IS EATING A RAISON!!”
Circus Comes to Town
I could feel the anxiousness rise in me. There we were, stuck in a small, confined space, surrounded by yelling, screaming, chewing, and barking. Welcome to the circus and yes, this was my circus, and these were my monkey’s. I couldn’t tame the animals, so I had to tame myself. I looked over at my wife and said, “You got this for a few minutes?” She turned to look at me and nodded her head. May the force be with you, I thought and, in an attempt to become the eye of the storm, I reclined my seat, closed my eyes and folded my hands over my belly. I was going home.
“ None of it mattered. I was in the zone.”
In meditation, we are told to find a home, something to focus on to disconnect us to what is happening externally. For me, my home is my breath as it causes my belly to rise and fall. Full transparency, I have been an inconsistent practitioner over the last few years; however, I have found myself practicing on the regular these days and I am amazed how, when I find my home, everything else seems to fade into the background. And that is what happened to the circus, for the moment the monkeys were off my back even though the circus hadn't left town.
I remember being aware of the noise, the, “It’s in her mouth! She’s chewing it!” comments as the dog found more "toys" to eat. I remember the car pulling onto the ferry and the numerous statements surrounding hunger and thirst. None of it mattered. I was in the zone.
Keep it Simple
I shared this story with my dear friend, who is a gifted psychologist and she talked about the work that her and I do and how that work requires a tremendous amount of thought; however, there are times when we need to “just get out of our brain.” She shared that our body is so much stronger than our brain. Which, I believe is contrary to what many believe. Our thoughts are in charge and they impact our feelings which impacts our actions, at least that is the process we believe to be directing our experiences.
“ In a world that prides itself on making the simple complex, there is so much power and potential in letting simple just be.”
My friend shared how our brain is so amazing and responsible for so many things but that it cannot be responsible for change. Why? Our brain is way too indecisive, it can flip so easily. How many of us have felt motivated to achieve a goal only to realize, down the road, that somewhere on our quest we found ourselves back on the same path, headed in the same direction, we’ve always been on? This is because, as my friend says, the ideas in the brain don’t last. Motivation is fickle. However, what is consistent is our habits. Therefore, there is a real benefit to getting out of our head and not placing such a high value on thinking as our only form of communication. Again, our body is way stronger than our brain.
Change, when we leave it up to our brain things don’t happen. As my friend pointed out, the last two decades have taught us that we don’t do well with information alone. She reminded me how much we know about issues in the world, like the environment, health issues etc. but nothing seems to change. With this idea, she asks, “What creates change, movement, habits, and what creates how we live every day?” She says it comes down to the simple things we do with our body, the simple things we do with our time, the simple things we do with our breath that change what we experience.” In a world that prides itself on making the simple complex, there is so much power and potential in letting simple just be.
That moment, in the van, when the circus had come to town, and I stopped talking, stopped listening and stopped thinking and just reclined my chair as I began to breath, I felt better. What my friend pointed out was my transition from external judgement to internal engagement as I began to trust my body and in doing so changed my experience. For those few moments, at least this time, I became the eye of the storm.
~ Love, Robert