I took a young child ice skating for the first time recently. It was a quite wonderful experience. Today I thought I'd write about what she taught me.
Initially, as you would expect, a lot of effort was being expended, and fear predominated. On the ice, suddenly balance was gone and the world felt different, a whole lot less stable. For us both!
I was surprised and delighted to find that instead of staying tight and paralysed by fear, the child was able to gradually loosen and let go of her tension. With determination and tenacity she just kept going.
There came a point where something just clicked, and suddenly there was no effort. Feet still, she allowed me to propel her, and she just found her balance. In short order fear became fun, and we had a blast.
So what seemed to make this possible?
Firstly, the ability to stay grounded, and be bigger than the emotion that was passing through. We used deep breathing and having eye contact to stay connected, and it helped.
Secondly, there was trust. When you know the support you need is in place, it enables you to lean into it, and to allow yourself to be held.
Thirdly, we played around with some of what was being expressed. Whaaaaaa became weeeeeee, and we channelled the ubiquitous Elsa from Frozen as a metaphor for comfort on ice.
Lastly, letting go of trying so hard was crucial. Sometimes we can stiffen ourselves with the concentration of effort, and when we let go and just do it, energy can once again begin to flow. Ice skating is not a great experience if you keep fighting the ice after all.
So, stay grounded, trust, be playful and let go. What do you want to apply these tips to in your life?