Breathe in, breathe out, Mom

Mindful parenting class brings focus inward

By Jess Wisloski

Observer staff

A small handful of parents and caregivers gathered Monday night at Williston Central School to learn a little more about how to check in, especially when it feels tempting to just flip out.

In a seminar presented by Williston Families as Partners, called “Mindful Self-Care & Stress Reduction for Parents and Caregivers,” Angie Ferenc, a Blair Park-based mental health counselor, discussed how to cope using basic breathing strategies and awareness techniques, even when parenting can be very, very hard.

“It’s about sprinkling mindfulness throughout your day,” she said, not adding some whole new appointment in your life. Adding awareness can help with “more regulation, more grounding, more peace, and less stress in our lives,” she said. “Many drops make an ocean,” Ferenc said several times, and talked about how, thanks to neuroplasticity, people have the power to actually change the way their brain works by changing their behavior over time.

The average American has 65,000 unrelated thoughts every day, Ferenc said, citing research she uses with clients. “That’s 65,000 different thoughts, as you are going to work, and teaching, and driving, and parenting your child…That just feels like a whole lot of noise. A whole lot of clutter in this little tiny brain of ours,” she said, and led the group in a set of guided breathing practices.

Ferenc’s last piece of advice was to place bookmarks in your day for being mindful.

“Think of something that’s in your daily environment that can be a cue, a visual reminder, a prompt to take a few deep mindful breaths,” she said — for her, it’s at stop lights, when she is walking down the hall to the bathroom, or when she’s waiting in line. “Can I bring myself right here, right now, just back to breathing?”

In contrast to the 65,000 thoughts per day, she said we take just about 22,000 breaths a day.