How Mindfulness Has Helped Me with Separation

by Susan Verde | August 12, 2018 7:57 pm

As much as the summer is my absolute favorite time of year, this summer so far has been one full of BIG emotions. My 14-year-old son decided last year he wanted to go to boarding school. Not just any boarding school but one that is a 3-hour plane ride away where he will be playing football and the first month of summer has been spent not only getting him ready but taking him there and leaving him there. I know I am not unique in feeling emotionally unprepared for this separation, while at the same time feeling so incredibly proud that he has a passion and clarity and commitment to something that fills his soul.

In the days since he has been gone, my mindfulness practice has been put to the test. I still have 2 other children at home who need me to be present and are figuring out their own selves, and passions. I have a career that needs attending to and a life outside of children that requires some effort. Yet, as I sit here eliminating items from my grocery list that only my now physically absent son eats this task has me in a pool of tears. I wasn’t quite ready for his departure and I am flooded with emotions. The temptation to let that overtake me is high and doing so would be easy but here is an opportunity to dig deep and practice and I am taking it.

Commit to sit ….
Just sitting has been something I avoided in the first few days. Trying to occupy my mind by distracting myself with activities. Let me tell you it doesn’t help. The thoughts of my son and wondering what and how he’s doing creep in anyway. So I decided to sit, pause, stop and be still.

Anchor with breath …
Because I know that this act of sitting may fill me with emotion I know I need an anchor, a place to rest my thoughts to hold and ground me and to return to so I can become the observer of my thought and feelings. Hand on belly, breathing steadily and giving myself a moment to notice the movement of my hands and the fullness and depth of my inhales and exhales.

Notice …
After establishing my anchor, I just let it come. The thoughts and feelings. Sadness, anger, worry, pride, excitement, questions, it all shows up, and I watch. Naming the emotion is helpful to me. For example, I say “yes, that is sadness ” and then I return to my breath. I let whatever my mind is bringing to the forefront be there and then return to my breath.

None of this has been easy but I can tell you it’s been helping. I am being kinder to myself and allowing myself to feel but then let go and remember I am not my emotions, I can choose what to pay attention to and I can observe the rest without judgment. As a result, I am finding myself able to be more present here and now. Don’t get me wrong I still wonder, worry and miss but I am not overwhelmed by it all. It is what it is, but it isn’t what I am.

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