When my grandson was about 5 months old I regularly played a game with him. I laid him on the floor on his back, placed my face over his, looked into his eyes and then ever so gently let my hair sweep over his face. He responded with an intake of breath that was akin to how I breathe when I’m in a state of openness and awe. Almost immediately he returned to the pre hair sweep state of quiet alertness. I repeated the sweep. There again was his sweet open face and intake of breath. It seemed to me that he felt my love, closeness, and gentle touch, took it in and then let it go, returning to a neutral, open, aware state.
What if we could let thoughts, feelings, and sensations move through us openly and freely and return to neutral with ease so that we could open to the next thought, feeling, and sensation? Is this what people mean when they talk about “living in the moment?” Isn’t this something we all, like my grandson, did naturally in our infancy?
Many spiritual traditions invite us to be childlike. Perhaps we can learn from the experience of my grandson more about what those traditions invite us into. There is a true vitality in being Curious, Open, Accepting and Loving (COAL from Dan Siegel at UCLA, I think) of all that comes our way, be it the sensation of soft hair floating across our faces or the sensations of pain that accompany a tragic loss.
With an invitation to be curious, open, accepting, and loving with yourself,
Shunryu Suzuki, who says the following about the correct approach to Zen practice: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:1