On the advice of… someone? I have no idea. But SOMEONE who I clearly trust recommended Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, and I put it on my Kindle wish list and one day when I finished reading whatever it was I was reading before THAT – I thought “Oh, maybe I should read this. Couldn’t hurt to be more mindful.” And so, I did.
I don’t think I was really this book’s target demographic. I was raised as a Buddhist and have been developing a Buddhist “practice” or whatever for a significant chunk of my adult life. Buddhism helped me more than anything else in getting through my Own Personal Apocalypse of ’07 and since then, it’s really been a huge part of my day to day life. It’s been a big part of my day to day parenting as well from day one (I’ve written about my experience with the “Zen of Labor” for Offbeat Mama). So… a lot of it, I was sort of smugly nodding and thinking “Yeah, well, DUH.” And there were other parts where I was just so completely thrilled to see someone else writing down thoughts that I’d had myself, but hadn’t been able to articulate quite so clearly.
(For those who are interested in reading this, I do recommend it, but really the first 1/3 is the most helpful/insightful part. After that, the book gets more casual and kind of devolves a little bit into stories of “I saw a well-behaved kid in a coffeeshop once.” Seriously, that was like, a whole chapter.)
The biggest take-away from me was the notion of recognizing my own thoughts. Sure, it’s come up for me in my Buddhist practice and in other readings -“don’t believe everything you think” – but the notion of labeling the thought itself as “This is just a thought. I am thinking right now” is a new one. And oh, it’s been so very helpful. Though it can get a bit recursive when I realize that labeling the thought is ITSELF a thought and then my brain explodes, but the upshot is that I’m not thinking any more.
This really has been so incredibly helpful to me since I spend quite a lot of time “alone” with my thoughts since my most constant companion isn’t much of a conversationalist beyond “yeah” and “PPPPBBBBBBBTTTTTTTTTT.” I’ve found it most useful when trying to fall asleep and getting caught up in little things that have happened during the day – rather than going down the rabbit hole of chasing everything to its most (or least) logical conclusion, just recognizing “Oh, that’s just a thought” is so helpful to keeping my mind clear to the present moment – which is all that really matters.
Of course, some thoughts are harder to let go of than others, so in that case – I’ve developed thought piles. If I can’t let a thought go, for whatever reason, I try to think about what kind of thought it is and put it in the right pile. For later. Yes, I’m a Virgo with organized thought piles. I’m also very much an ENFP as everything needs to be in a pile *right in front of me* or it doesn’t exist. These are very much not thought drawers or boxes. Just piles. “This thought is useful.” “This thought is kind.” “This thought is interesting.” And the most meta pile – “This thought needs more thought later.”
I don’t find myself going back to my thought piles all that often, but the process of labeling a thought and putting it down in its designated pile has helped me a lot in staying in the moment rather than getting caught in a thought-web. And after all, it’s the moment itself that’s important, not what I think about it.