Our Blog

Mindfulness and Connection

Monday, March 25th, 2024

by By Melanie VanderPol-Bailey, MSW, CSW-PIP



In community weather is often a common topic,  one which can be overheard in circles after church services, at the safe barn, in passing at the grocery store or at school events.  As I write this article there is some question about a future spring storm in the ever-changing forecast.  The weather can impact us all very differently, depending on a variety of things like occupation, age, health issues, etc.  For example, if you are an elementary student, you may super excited about an impending snow day.  But if you are calving, work for the city or county maintaining the roads, employed as a first responder, or if you are a parent working from home, you may feel very differently.  Our perspective often depends on our own reality and life.  How often do you pause to practice empathy by considering and being mindful of the experience or perspective of the other?

Being mindful of others and their unique experiences keeps us connected to each other.  We are living in a time of instant and constant connectability, yet more and more humans feel somewhat lost in their connections with others.  Many relationships may feel distant or may feel as though they are in need of repair.  People may feel as though they are connected because they follow someone’s socials, but struggle in face-to-face conversations or “making time” for connections with others.    

It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of modern life.  Practicing a bit of mindfulness can help us connect with the present moment and with those around us.  Mindfulness is the art of paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and acceptance.  It involves deliberately directing our awareness to our thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the environment, without judgement or attachment.  Mindfulness can make moments precious, because we notice the intricate web of relationships that bind us to nature and the world around us.

The land we live on is deeply rooted in this way of being.  Mitákuye Oyás'iŋ (All Are Related) is a phrase from the Lakota language. It reflects the world view of interconnectedness held by the Lakota people.  Mindfulness can be a bridge that connects us to others on a deeper level.  When we are present to the here and now, we recognize that we are all connected.  We begin to listen more attentively, speak more authentically, and empathize more deeply.  We increase our awareness of ourselves and become more attuned to the connections with others and everything around us.   

If you are struggling with connections or in any area of life, at River Counseling we meet you where you are at, offering hope. You may schedule an appointment with the Platte office or with one of the therapists from our other locations, Sioux Falls Psychological services or Stronghold Counseling in Sioux Falls or Yankton. To schedule an appointment please call 605-274-2716. Please note that River Counseling’s phone number has changed to 605-274-2716 and the 337-3444 phone number is no longer in service.