Skip to main content

Creating Calm & Practicing Presence - Part I

The image of the rose is used to represent the encouragement to stop and smell the roses
Have you ever noticed that you are going through the motions, you are present, but not.  It's like when you are driving home from work and you realize you are home, but you don't remember the last three turns.  I find myself in this situation more than I care to admit.  It really struck me recently when I was able to be fully present for just a short moment, and when I noticed the beauty around me, I teared up.  We forget how amazing the little things can be when we get stuck in this head space.  It becomes hard to be grateful because we don't focus on the good.  Did you know that this is not just an adult problem?  Our children are even more likely to get caught in this cycle, and their generation's untrimmed umbilical chord to technology is making it harder to learn this skill.

One of the skills we used to teach the youth in wilderness therapy was "presence".  It was this simple, yet elusive idea, of being fully present in the moment.  One of the ways that we did this, was a policy of no "F-I" (future information). We would refuse to provide any details about where we were going, or what was planned for the day.  The routines in the woods were nearly identical every day and it was still super stressful for the youth, and not a strategy that I would recommend.  It was done with intention and with the time and ability to process the anxiety that came from not knowing what was happening.  For most of your families, this policy would lead to a level of chaos you could not possibly appreciate until it was too late and you were in the middle of it.  We had another technique that went with it though, and I think we could use this one, but this step is critical, and we need to replace it in our overall strategy first.

Most people spend their time dwelling over the events of the past, or planning for the future, with very little time in the moment.  You cannot be fully present if you mind is elsewhere, so we need to address this pattern first.  In the wilderness we processed their past in such detail that their brain was done focusing on it and automatically went towards processing the future.  The benefit of no "F-I" was that it stopped the constant planning and scheming that happens when we know what is coming next.  In order to practice moments of presence, we need to first, not be living in the future or the past.  How do we do this in family life?  How do we do this personally?

We will address this topic over the course of the next three posts:

Part II - Dealing with the Past, so that we can move on

Part III - Settling on a plan to avoid living in the dream world of a Future that won't come

Part IV - Practices that foster Presence

Since I hate to leave a post without some practical action step, I leave the married couples with the following experiment:  Each of you plan a date night for the other.  For that one night, practice no "F-I".  Pay attention to what this does to your thinking, where does your focus drift?  Are you more attentive?  Is it fun, exciting, or stressful?  What do you notice about your partner?  How do they react?  At the end of each date each of you should do a quick journal, audio recording, or video about the experience.  After both date nights have happened share your thoughts and journals with each other.  I believe that you will notice some interesting patterns.  Think about how you can use this as a family.  While it may not be a good daily policy, it may have certain applications for special events or activities.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   "...in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t

Looking Back?

"Remember Lot’s wife!  "   -  Luke 17:32 This is one of the shortest verses in the Bible.  Jesus was talking about the terrible circumstances that will be present when he comes back.  He was warning people that they would not see it coming.  People will be going about their business and then suddenly, without warning, chaos will take over.  People will need to flee, and he warns them not to go back for their possessions, for anything.  This is where he says "Remember Lot's wife!".  In desperation he pleads with them to remember the fate of this woman.  To his listeners it would bring to mind the story of Lot and his family fleeing the destruction of Sodom.  They too were warned not to go back for anything, not to even look back, but Lot's wife did look back.  And when she did, she turned into a pillar of salt.   Metaphorically speaking this is often what happens when we look back.  We get frozen in place and we cease moving forward.  I have a childhood frie