“No! Mom!” Sophie whines, “Alex has got more blanket than me!”
“Shut up, no I haven’t!” Alex snaps back, “you’ve got loads!”
My husband, usually easy-going and calm, bristles his body, wiggles in his seat and audibly ‘Grrrr’s.’ It’d been a long day of being in close proximity to our children’s incessant bickering and outbursts, locked in the confines of our car. I shared his frustrations. They were seemingly compelled to argue over everything and anything; cupcake frosting, which Hello Kitty show is best, how much toothpaste is appropriate. (God bless the long three month Amercian school holidays:-)
And then we have ensuing tugs, moans and an eventual slap administered from my daughter Sophie to Alex. Recognize this holiday scenario, parents?!
Yep, this weekend found us jolly holidaying for a family getaway to Ormond Beach, Florida. Only the kids missed the ‘jolly’ memo bit.
All day they fought, until eventually Eric concludes, “We’ve got to wait a couple of years before we can take these kids away again. This is nuts.”
So our stress levels were rather elevated when we eventually decided we had no choice but to forfeit a starry, romantic night under the moon’s glow, listening to the rolling tide on our beach cottage patio, to instead wedge ourselves between our fighting children and referee them into sleep.
Sophie and I woke early on Sunday. All four of us had slept in a king sized bed in which our bodies had eventually adopted the positioning of alternating feet to noses. It was a disturbed sleep punctuated by my son writhing, grinding teeth and lashing out head smacks. My daughter, despite her small frame, amassed nigh half of our precious bed space and indeed the lions share of the covers. It was an amusing scene, looking back.
So, first ones awake, my daughter and I slip out of the beach cottage and into the dewy glow of the morning. The honey-glazed sun, a promise of the hot day to come, was still soft, a warm golden fuzz, beginning to stretch higher up from the oceans horizon to take its place in the deep blue sky.
As we shook off our flip flops and began to walk along the beach, skirting the oceans foamy rolls, I became more and more aware of my strong, captivated feelings.
I was entranced by the simplicity, yet the potency of the beach to so instantaneously woo me back to peace, to clarity, to new life. It was intoxicating! Licks of salty, warm whipped vibrant air hypnotically blew away stress, made it all seem so small.
As I meandered on with Sophie, who was equally enthused by the beach’s offerings, my spirit not only melted but expanded into the scene, as it attuned my breathing- my consciousness- to match that of the hypnotic rolling of the tide, curling my delighted toes to scrunch in more sand, as if to lock this feeling into my nervous system for keeps. I felt at One, as if I really were a drop of wave, like everyone else, and God was the ocean in its entirety.
My folly translated into an oozy smile on my face. I thought about all the silly ways we try and strain to access God, to access our true selves, to access feelings like joy, peace and love. We live in boxes, the average American spends 90% of their time indoors. From there we may travel to other boxes to find connection to God, or to fill some internal nameless void. While God of course can be found in places of worship, or perhaps inside a yoga sequence or in a community setting, I was struck by how close I felt to God here. I felt we not only touched but merged into Oneness. I felt like a beloved babe, rocked in embrace by an ocean of adoring parental Love. Liquefied. Exquisite. Serene.
We like to complicate things, we humans. So often we negate life’s simple pleasures and solutions in favor of the more complicated or numbing versions of stress relief. These oftentimes mute our soul ever more; alcohol after a hard days work, prescription drugs, junk food, TV, late nights, shopping for things more distracting and stimulating; impressive technology, bigger and better toys.
Even healthy ways to relieve stress, meditation, for instance, can seem forced, like an arduous and unrewarding task, wrestling to still your mind against a backdrop of noisy stimulus.
But meditation is a byproduct of the beach. You needn’t try at all! You just need to show up. Allow its hypnotic healing properties to saturate your senses and just let the exfoliating sea air scrub out stress, allow the wind to chase it away.
How can I bring more beach into my life?!
1) If you live near a beach, dear friend please do visit. Get up early before the fluorescent parasols stud the landscape, before the rowdy holidaymakers arise and stake their bit of beach with their deck chairs, rammed into the sand.
If you live too far for a visit, consider a beach holiday but go with no agenda, no over-laden makeup bag or over-saturated suitcase. Instead marinate in the euphoric laps of the ocean, echoing your very inhale and exhale, and lulling you back to who you really are, and what really matters. These are the moments that make life count.
2) Listen to meditations or gentle music with the sound of the ocean in the background; close you eyes and you might be able to feel the sun on your face, the sand sieving through your toes. Your body may not be at the beach, but your mind thinks so, which is just as good for our stress-relieving purposes.
3) Add little pieces in your home that allude to the beach, just as we add religious or spiritual icons and items to remind us where to attune our thoughts. You could go as far as we have, with an entire beach-themed living and guest room inclusive of décor, throw pillows and wall hangings. Or simply add a beachy photo frame, a water feature such as a fountain, collected seashells in a vase or a beach scented candle.
We have a pillow which, until now, was thrust for aesthetic purposes atop our hallway cubby. Thanks to our weekend and the lessons it taught my soul, it’s wordage rings with a simple, yet profound Truth…
Yep, its the simple things…Namaste.
PS: My dear Bright Siders, as you may have seen from last week I reverted our Sunday post to a Friday due to our beach trip. In fact, I will stick to a Friday for future postings, as posting on a Saturday night/Sunday morning is eating into our family time. So back to our Fridays! See you then!