On Mindfulness by Bryan Post

The other day while out in the wilderness attending training for some of our new in-home counselors, it began to rain. For some time I paid little attention to the rain itself and just sort of observed the greater scene, but after a while I began to focus on the rain, not on it raining, and it was a spectacularly peaceful experience.

What’s the difference? When focusing on it raining, one merely pays attention to the picture, and the picture typically becomes the background scenery to the other thoughts flooding the mind at any one time. However, bringing one’s focus onto the rain itself changes everything. To watch a single rain drop falling from a one hundred foot tree, and, looking upwards to watch that same one hundred foot tree swaying rhythmically in the passing wind, is experiencing the now.

Paying attention is the essence of mindfulness. Paying pay attention to one’s thoughts and actions, sometimes bringing that awareness to one’s very breath and movement, is the practice of mindfulness. In this state we are able to listen, interpret, predict, and act in a manner that is most congruent with love. The opposite of course, is being mindless —  hurried, not listening, interrupting, not paying attention. This person is operating from a program of fear. A survival state that propels the individual into action with little thought for anything other than the most immediate need. Generally this state leads to frenetic feelings, a buzzing sensation, challenges in clear thinking, etc.

How does mindfulness apply to parenting? In some ways it is the variable that makes parenting the most challenging, yet rewarding at the same time. Some years ago I lived in Vancouver, Canada for nearly six months. During this time I was the clinical consultant for a children’s residential treatment center. Much like our treatment homes today, the center was composed of several homes that provided clinical care for children. Due to the need of the organization at the time, I also agreed to act as the caregiver in one of the homes. This particular home had five children, all with multiple diagnoses. I can still recall the initial strain of caring for the children; for awhile the demand seemed as though it might be more than I could handle.

But then one day something happened. I gave in to the children. Rather than continue to allow the pressures of my own self-imposed expectations to create energy disruptions in the home and the homes process, I gave in to the energy and pace of the home. Rather than waking up demanding that the home run according to my parental agenda, I woke everyday with the intent of allowing the day to unfold as it was supposed to with my merely supporting the process. In no time at all, I began to watch as the children awoke each morning as they were supposed to, they came and ate breakfast, would get dressed, and be off to school with minimal negative energy disruptions. The morning would become quiet for awhile as I would go off to various meetings which would undoubtedly lead into the afternoon, and then I’d return home in time to walk with at least one of the boys up to meet our one girl in the house as she was getting out of school.

The days were busy. There was not much time for lying around in the grass, but then again there is always some time for lying in the grass; we just have to give up the false belief that there is no time. I recall walking back from the grocery store one early evening with all of the children in tow, and for a moment we stopped and sat on a grassy knoll. One or two sat with me while the others jumped and bounced around here and there, but mostly I remember the experience being one filled with peace. From that knoll I could see very large snow-capped mountains and I thought, “I could stay here and do this forever.” In those days I had discovered something; I had discovered the art of mindfulness. That practice has remained a very strong part of both my own parenting and my therapy to this day. Sometimes I’m not always as good at the practice while in the midst of some chaos regarding business, but in the flow of interacting with my family, or the various other children that I work with I’ve got it down pat.

When we give in to the madness we can come to hear a different sound than the one we thought was playing. What was seemingly without rhythm slowly becomes very melodic, but we first must slow down our own inner demand so that we can find that place where all of the energies converge and interact with one another.

Here’s to being Full of Mind!

Always Choose Love,


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