Mindfulness, Connecting and Pain by Kristi Saul-Post

Bryan teaches breathing and the 3 R’s, Reflect, Relate, Regulate, every day.  This is a direct path to mindfulness. By breathing, and searching inside, the path to finding your true self in any given moment unfolds.  Sometimes when I use these two key actions I can feel the effort of becoming aware, but there have been times when the process just happened, and,  I have experienced the magic of being fully present and connected in a way that miracles of growth have occurred.

During the days of the Post Therapeutic homes, I would help care for the children so the house parents could have a break.  One evening our daughter Marley, who was 3 at the time, and I were at the house with one of the girls.  Other Post trained staff were at the home preparing for the return home of the other four girls who were on an outing.  The young lady who was home, had a tragic history of neglect and abuse, some of which related to food, and resulted in her having juvenile diabetes which was a challenge to manage.  When she saw the dinner arriving to the table, she was immediately triggered.  She began to scream and cry, and tear around the house, throwing things, running to the large window in the living room pounding her fists.  I was afraid for her safety and could see that she was terrified.  I went to the living room and attempted to stop her by placing my hands on her.  This further escalated the situation.

She ran into the kitchen and continued to cry and scream and bang her head on the wall.  I was immediately struck by her terror.  I was mindful of every muscle in my body, every cell of my being could feel the terror that she was experiencing, and that we, the very people who were trying to help her feel safe, were the trigger to this terror.  I crumbled to the floor at her feet, and wept.

She looked down at me, and I up at her.  She had a question on her face, asking “why are you crying?”  I replied through tears, “I am so sorry you feel so scared. We don’t want to hurt you. We want to help you feel safe, and we just don’t know what to do.”  Her tears of terror shifted to tears of sadness, and in a few short seconds, she gave us instructions on how we could help her feel better.  The other staff, with whom she was more familiar with and more comfortable with, made her a special plate, and found a quiet place where the two of them shared their meal.

You might be wondering, where was Marley during all of this.  She was sitting at the table watching it all.  As the young lady and I righted ourselves from the floor, one of the other staff asked Marley how she was doing, she simply said, “mommy is feeling sad.”

During dinner I asked the Post staff how they were feeling.  They responded with feeling “amazed”.  They shared the story of the previous month when a similar situation had occurred with this young lady that resulted in her being placed for emergency care in an inpatient center for observation.  They shared how scared they had been and how all their previous training had given them only the tools to feel afraid and to try to control, the result of which was a broken chair, a broken window, and several broken dishes, and a trip to the hospital.  We talked about the difference between traditional thinking about kids versus the Post Stress Model perspective.

Most of the time when I think of mindfulness, an image of myself being in the present, seeing the beauty of a child’s smile, or the beauty of nature, appears in my mind,  but I have found that some of the most profound and life changing experiences of mindfulness have occurred when connecting with the pain of another.  As I write these words I realize that as much as connecting with the pain of another, these moments are marked with connecting to my own pain and feelings of helplessness. And somehow, that feels really good.

Kristi Saul-Post is the wife of Bryan Post and a great mom. She holds a Master's degree in Community Counseling from Central State University in Edmond, OK and brings to the Post Institute 20 years of experience as a home based family therapist.

If you move into pure awareness in the midst of pain, even for the tiniest moment, your relationship with your pain is going to shift right in that very moment. It is impossible for it not to change because the gesture of holding it in awareness, even if sustained for only a second or two, already reveals its larger dimensionality. And that shift in your relationship with the experience gives you more degrees of freedom in your attitude and in your actions in a given situation, whatever it is… Even if you don’t know what to do. Awareness may not diminish the enormity of our pain in all circumstances. It does provide a bigger basket for tenderly holding and intimately knowing our suffering in any and all circumstances, and that, it turns out, is transformative— and healing."  — Jon Kabat-Zinn, Arriving At Your Own Door

Always Choose Love,

Mrs B.

Have you read Bryan Post's FREE e-Book How to End Lying Now: Why Kids Lie and What You Can Do to Stop It?

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