Professional lifeguards spend the lion’s share of each shift seemingly just sitting.
And yet they are maximally alert, continuously scanning the local environment for risks that may not yet have arrived – for example the unfamiliar swimmer not yet aware of immanent exhaustion, or how far from shore, or how close to panic.
This is not tension or hyper-vigilance. Nor is it distraction, preoccupation, day-dreaming or ruminating about what to say to the spouse at the next go-round.
This is the expert sitter – quiet readiness sustained by combining full engagement in an ever-evolving present with a rare degree of calmness, learned through (of course) practice, practice and more practice.
Second nature? Don’t discount it.
We aren’t born knowing how to ride a bicycle, or snap our fingers.
Habit is the result of choice and rehearsal. Too often we find (or lose) ourselves rehearsing anxiety and its compensations, the grudges and fantasies over one or more of life’s greater or lesser indignities.
If, in the very next moment (and habitually), you elected not to rehearse fear, and chose instead to practice noticing what is actually arising around you, and in you, while just sitting with it — if that became second nature — life would be a snap.