8.30.2010

FLOATING MEDITATION


Every once in a while I remember being a child doing something that gave me enormous pleasure. Something that was fun, carefree, silly. Like rolling down hills. Or swinging so high that I almost went over the top. Or digging holes in the sand, and filling them with water. These memories are often triggered by the sight of a child at play...and that is the operative word here: play. Do we "allow" ourselves the freedom to play? Should I have an entire category on this blog called "Permission to...."  Bask! Mourn! Run! Hide! Wonder! Sing! Play, play play!

I was thinking about all this the other day when we had a particularly calm sea, and I was pulling myself together after the Children Leaving Home Crackup (permission granted to crack up, always). I had been swimming, and was tired, and flipped on to my back to rest, and then suddenly remembered floating--how, when I was a child, I used to just lie on the water, feel the waves rippling under me, feel the sun on my face, feel my hair loosen like seaweed and sway with the currents. So I stayed in my float, and tried to let go of my mind. I found it was much like meditating on land...a watery savasana, if you will. (And while we are floating, and our thoughts are loose, I might mention, for those of you who love language, that the link above on "lie" goes to one of my favorite gals: Grammar Girl.)

I had to focus on my breathing. There are times, when I am swimming, that I am so relaxed that I become forgetful, and think I can breath underwater, as if I had gills--until snorting, choking, and coughing rudely jolts me out of that fantasy. While floating, I could hear my breath go in, and out, and in, and out, and I could feel my ribcage push against the water's gentle caress. I felt rejuvenated. And I felt like playing some more. It occurs to me that "floating" might be a useful image as we move through our days. Why not? Why not, when we find ourselves in calm waters, let go of some of the baggage, the worries, the anxieties, the fears? Why not allow ourselves moments of losing touch with the earth, with gravity, even with the shoreline? Why not drift and dream? Perhaps, if we learn to float, we will learn to calm the waters around us, rather than wait for them to calm us--or wait for them to be calm, when they are turbulent.

Next, perhaps, I will try a canonball off the cliff. The children seem to be having a blast. But right now, I am giving myself permission to float....and suggest you all join me.

24 comments:

slip4 said...

Just looking at that picture makes me relax! Thanks!

Emom said...

Big smiles.....

akbarnard said...

Thanks for this, a reminder of why I love both Yoga and Swimming and to breathe :)

Bruce Barone said...

I, too, am now floating.

Splendid Sass said...

Oh, I wish that was me floating in the water! Love this.
Have a nice week.
Teresa

quintessence said...

What a beautiful image. And what a lovely concept - I think it's also that time of year that warrants a little bit of floating as we segue from the meandering summer months to our more regimented lives in the fall. I am giving myself a directive to float through Indian Summer!

Madgew said...

Love the picture. I too love to float and think and dream.

W Geddes said...

Have you seen photographer Richard Misrach's "On The Beach" series/book? Really great.

http://www.amazon.com/Beach-Richard-Misrach/dp/1597110485

mary said...

Thank you. I am learning to float and calm the waters. I think learning silence has been my first step. The power of silence to bring rest and peace-- is an amazing journey.

cathy said...

How absolutely lovely the picture you paint with your words. I feel more tranquil just reading them, at least until the cannonball off the cliff part. :0
I really do enjoy your writing style.

Ashling said...

Your post has given me such a sense of longing, for those childhood moments when I believed with all my heart I was a mermaid, and for the exquisite peace and release of just...floating. Thank you.

Melissa said...

I'm taking a break and heading for the lake!

Vava (aka Virginia) said...

I'd love to be right there floating. Think I'll take you up on it...figuratively at least! Here's to childish play!

NicNacManiac said...

There is nothing more liberating than the feel of your body in the water, turning somersaults, pretending to be a dolphin and of course floating! Nothing is more relaxing and reflective at the same time! Thank you for reminding me how to be free!
Enjoy the rest of your week xOxO

Mrs. Blandings said...

Mrs. Blandings accepts with pleasure...except I'll be a little late. I can't float until Friday at least. But this is a nice reminder.

p.s. I'm way too chicken to float in the ocean.

SweetRetreat said...

Lovely image. Not as easy at it looks. Many are unable to float, especially men. Their legs simply sink.

david terry said...

Dear Ms. Browning,

Like me, you're old enough to recall this song.

At the risk of sending you to search for spare change under your couch cushions every time I post?....


Pay 99 cents and hear this song, once again, before you worry about floating....

Advisedly yours,

David Terry
www.davidterryart.com

CLICK ON (or wipe and copy):
http://www.amazon.com/The-Wind/dp/B000W05HTC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1283274122&sr=1-1

Gaea Yudron said...

Delightful image and post--thank you. One of my favorite places here in Ashland, Oregon where I've lived for over 30 years is Jackson Wellsprings. I love to float in the mineral water swimming pool with the big sky above displaying its array of clouds, the barn swallows swerving around over the pool, and occasionally, a hawk far above. Ahhh....

Sara said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. Your post is like a special box of chocolates that I open and savor each day. We (I) all too often forget the simple joy of playing. I hadn't thought about rolling down the hill or swinging so high (all the while singing...She flies through the air with the greatest of ease...) in such a long time. I am floating today.

VICKY said...

Wow! what a view!A pleasure place to unwind!i enjoyed reading your blog!wonderful post!thanks for sharing.

About Me said...

Beautiful. Thanks for the lovely reminder. Your post reminds me of this poem by Philip Booth, which I sometimes read to my yoga students while they rest in savasana:

http://afirstsip.blogspot.com/2010/06/lie-back.html

Happy Floating!
Claudia

Charlotte K said...

I have tried some of those beloved childhood activities as an adult and they always make me so DIZZY! Do you remember sticking your arms out and twirling in a circle until you fell down? Maybe we would become used to it if we did it all the time (sufi dancing???)

I don't generally like the water, but your post & the picture make me want to find a cool lake and float on my back too.

Maria Grasso said...

A wave of tranquility washed over me as I read your words. Much needed. Thank you.

Dominique said...

Here is the poem that Claudia referred to, I print it here as the link didn't work through comments. Thank you so much, Claudia, it is quite beautiful....It reminds me so much of holding my new borns in their bathwater....Dominique


Lie back
Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man's float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

~ Philip Booth