The Bear in the Blueberries

By Linda Buckley Twice a month a group of families gathers to practice mindfulness in Juneau, Alaska. We meet on Sunday afternoons in private homes. When a family is hosting the mindfulness family gathering, they decide on a theme, choose an activity to support the theme, and offer a mindful snack. Each snack is preceded by the five contemplations and a sharing circle looking deeply into the food we are about to eat.

In September, with the theme of harvest, our activity was to go out into the yard and pick blueberries for our snack. We selected some nice plump berries, washed them and put them in a large bowl. We recited the five contemplations and then began a discussion. Can you see the sun in the blueberries? Yes. Everyone could easily see the sun in the berries. Can you see the rain in the blueberries? Oh yes. Can you see the earth? Yes. Can you see the bear in the blueberries? Not really. In fact, the children agreed that the bear was not in the blueberries. The blueberries could be in the bear. But the bear could not be in the blueberries.

One of the children, Haley, had brought a small stuffed bear with her that day. She was putting the small bear on her head and balancing it there as she shared in the discussion. After seeing nearly the whole universe in the blueberries (except the bear) we passed the bowl around and mindfully began to let the sweet juice of the berries bring joy to our mouths. Each person would offer the bowl of berries, bow, and pass it on to the next. As Haley bowed to offer berries to her brother Alex, the bear perched on top of her head plopped into the blueberries. Everyone laughed and I asked, "Now can you see the bear in the blueberries?" YES!!

Then Alex said quite seriously, "The bear is in the blueberries because when the bear eats the blueberries and then goes to the bathroom, that goes into the earth and feeds the blueberry bush for next year ... so the bear is in the blueberries."

Linda Buckley, True Spiritual Fulfillment, is the Director of the Mindfulness Center of Juneau, Alaska. She is working on a book on family practice. For information on her book or ideas for family practice you may contact her at

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