Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Count Down

C.S.'s new strategy to cope with stressful and frustrating situations is to start counting. "How many windows are in the room? How many movie posters are on the wall?" Etc. etc.

It began when Samantha, his therapist realized C.S. was counting the points on a sunburst shaped mirror frame in her office. She recognized this was something he enjoyed doing, connected it to his need for a more active coping strategy and there you go. Seems so simple, eh.

Well, it works like a charm. And to tell the truth, this sort of redirection is something we've done before, both me and my husband and Tia (my husband's sister) who is just a natural with children. But that's just it I guess, I had just lumped it into that general category of redirection or more accurately what-must-be-done-to-avoid-a-complete-meltdown, a response that is all tangled up with fears of what might happen and feelings about what has happened before. So although we've used counting as a strategy before, what I hadn't done, was name it.

Once, long ago, I wanted to learn to meditate. As I sat there assuming a lotus position and trying to empty my mind and focus on nothing but my breath and what was happening in that moment, "the now," as is typical of novices, my thoughts wouldn't be still but tended to flit and drift back in time fretting about something that happened however long ago and forward in time worrying about something yet to face. The advice I was given was to start naming things. "That is the sound of my breath. That is the sound of a passing car. That is the feeling of the sun shining on my face, etc. etc. etc." Actively describe "now" to become aware of it. Describe it. Name it. I

n C.S's case, count it, quantify it... inventory this world. Observe. Keep it simple. And in this way, perhaps even meditate.

Silver Lining: I never was successful at making meditation a part of my daily, weekly or even monthly routine. But C.S. and Samantha have shown me how simple and vital it can be, to take a deep breath, focus on the present and name or count the things around you. I think we'll definitely be able to build upon this strategy.

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