Walk don’t run to better parenting

running SFForty years ago human beings took their first step on the moon… at the same time that I took a step off a dock at summer camp, became trapped under it and nearly drowned.  Now it might not exactly have been at the same moment, but in my former life as a filmmaker I learned that we ought not let the truth get in the way of a good story.  But as a psychologist I’ve learned that you sometimes have to get a bad story (i.e. that someone is inadequate) out of the way of the truth.

Thich Nhat Hahn teaches a walking meditation.  It’s quite simple:  you take a slow and conscious step and in your mind you say, “I arrive, I arrive, I arrive.”  You take the next slow and conscious step and say to yourself, “I am home, I am home, I am home.”  This needs no analysis or interpretation, and it is highly worth doing; we can do it on the way to the laundry or the dishes or on the way to the trash can.

When our child takes his or her first step, it’s often bigger to us personally than Neil Armstrong stepping on the moon—especially to people who think it never even happened, or for whom 1969 could just as well be 1869.  Things that get our full attention, like a first word, step or successful shot in basketball tend to be a little transcendent, and they stand in contrast to life lived on auto-pilot… living for 5pm, the weekend or the holiday.

Mindfulness is about slowing down and being present to the small and simple things, like the full taste and experience of our food where a summer cherry can be a revelation.  Slowing down and being mindful is rather challenging, and I am one of the worst offenders (blogging until all hours, rushing to see my next client, telling my kid, “five more minutes and we’ll… swim, get going, etc.”)

For that reason I am going to end here, and go swimming with my kid.  I intend to do it mindfully and encourage you to find your way to a mindful moment today, walking, listening to music even being fully present to driving—and to do so in honor of your child and of all our children.

Namaste, Bruce

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