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Collisions inside parents’ minds

Every moment was a collision of demands that needed tending – emotions, dishes, sorting, cleaning, things to get, projects, feelings, commitments to activities, to people, to homework, to places to be, and the list goes on.

What is your list?

Which demand or responsibility typically gets your attention? When it all collides, which wins out? That is a clue to the inner workings of your mind, body, and soul.

My answer is “emotions and feelings”. Differentiating emotions from feelings is another topic all together. However defined, they always won out for me and in me. I tended to whichever emotions or feelings my children were experiencing, when they were experiencing them, and how they were experiencing them, with little room for letting them pass.

That’s a clue about me. My system’s radar is made up of powerful mirror neurons – those brain-cells and processes that make a baby mimic the funny faces you make at them. My radar picks up all the emotions in the room from all sorts of clues – verbal and nonverbal. Yet simultaneously, I am not pre-wired to differentiate the processing of feelings experienced by others differently than processing those initiated within me. As a result, in the collisions of priorities, tending to emotions and feelings always won. Often, not much got done. All emotions and feelings mattered. It was a very intense way to live. I don’t recommend it. And yet, I understand if it seems inevitable.

It’s not.

Here’s why. I am not thoughts, feelings, or emotions. I have an “I” that can watch me experiencing all of them. Building the strength of that “I” in me happened in two ways.

First – crisis. I had to see what any given moment was calling for from me to optimize that given moment – regardless of what I was feeling from others or from within myself. I had to process and sort all of it out, One. Second. At. A. Time. – letting go of outcome, knowing all I could do was that one second.

The second way began slowly. I happened upon my first exposure to consciousness of breathing. No regular practice. But over time I’ve come to an understanding and appreciation of the power in regularly and frequently practicing mindfulness.

Failing is Succeeding during mindfulness practices. Noticing my mind doing the inevitable wandering away from a predetermined focus is the point of mindfulness practices.

It enables me to watch myself experiencing something – a wandering to thought or feeling, rather than being consumed or defined by that experience.

As parents, this prepares us for watching ourselves being triggered and creating the distance in time and space needed to pause and consider.

It’s hard to develop the practice of mindfulness and of considering in isolation. It’s fun to have partners with whom to collaboratively figure out how to actually implement the pausing and considering, and with whom to discern what is relevant to consider.

With collaborators by your side – literally and in spirit in the heat of everyday moments – you’ll have the advantage of being able to balance and even prevent the collisions of inevitably competing demands. You’ll be clear. That’s when you and your children flourishingly evolve healthy minds, bodies and spirits.

Here’s to your collaborations.

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