Mindful Goodbyes

By Lisa Laber, Regional Assistant

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Recently, after saying a last goodbye to a dying friend, I began to consider the importance of really being present while saying our goodbyes.

As this year comes to an end, it is time for students, host families, friends, teachers and coaches to say goodbye. I thought it might be helpful to consider a couple of ideas from the study of Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being here now, and staying in the present moment as much as possible. "A mindful goodbye allows you to fully absorb your experience so that it can become part of your learning.” β€” Gretchen Schmelzer, a psychologist and the author of β€œJourney Through Trauma.”

As the time comes to say your goodbyes, practice (they call it practice because it takes PRACTICE), first taking a deep breath, noticing your own feelings, looking into the person's eyes and listening deeply to what they are saying. Use the goodbye as a moment of gratitude and a moment of reflection. What are you grateful for from the interactions that you have had with this person? What are you taking with you because of this person? Take a breath or two to reflect on this gratitude.

Goodbyes also give us opportunities to consider the impermanence of our constantly changing lives. Saying everyday goodbyes to friends and family, helps us practice for when we have more substantial losses that come with being human.

So, enjoy the end of your time together, and practice with a mindful goodbye. Also, remember none of us is perfect at this... it takes practice.