Learning Presence at The Bunny Park
Updated: Jun 24
For the first year and a half of doing the Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS), I would do a round (visualization) on my way home from work. I found it convenient to pull over at a park that was near my house to help me focus on the visualization. At this time, I had a very challenging time being “present.” I was a full-time English professor, wife, mother, and a doctoral student. More than anything, however, I was a brain re-trainer, trying to fix a limbic system impairment (LSI). The LSI made it difficult to focus on anything other than what I needed to do to repair my brain. Gratefully, I was able to learn what presence meant by watching the animals at what I have named “The Bunny Park.”
The Bunny Park is loaded with—you guessed it—rabbits! They live in the bushes and come out to socialize when the weather is good and the park isn’t crowded with noisy children or curious dogs. On my stops at the park after work, I started watching the rabbits playing with one another. One particular day, there were about seven rabbits relaxing on the grass. Looking more closely, I realized that one was a squirrel with a fluffy gray tail. He and a rabbit started playing what looked like tag—chasing each other around the park, taking turns playing “it.” Then something remarkable happened: a bird joined in their game! The three of them took turns chasing each other around their area under a tree. The rabbit and squirrel would chase the bird and “tag” him, and then the bird would do the same to the others. In a period of my life when I found it challenging to authentically smile and laugh, I began to laugh out loud, enjoying the simplicity and innocence of these three very different animals playing harmoniously together. I then drank in the beauty of the tree dancing above them, which seemed to revel in their game. The grass was gently blowing in the breeze, and for that moment I was truly there—present.
After that day, I made it a habit to stop by the park whenever I could, hoping to get a glimpse of the rabbits playing with their friends. Often times, there would be people with their dogs, so the rabbits would be hiding carefully in the bushes. I took advantage of this time to watch the dogs and their pure joy for life. Dogs seem to have an innate love and gratitude for life and the simple things, like running after a ball or just being let off of their leash to prance unhindered. They have no worries, no concerns, no doubts about who they are and what their purpose in life is. They just “are,” present in the moment. Simple. Isn’t that the way life is supposed to be lived? Present and grateful? Shouldn’t we take time out of our busy lives each day to watch the bunnies play? To watch how the leaves dance for us when we are watching?
Now I make it a habit to save all of my old vegetables and take them to The Bunny Park to feed my friends. I feel joy when I see a rabbit happily munching on some broccoli or a carrot I left by its bush. It’s my way of saying thank you to my friends who have been such incredible teachers to me. I am grateful that I was able to learn this lesson to slow down and watch what was around me, enjoying the moment because that what life is: moments. We have the ability to choose how we spend those moments, and I choose to be present with the bunnies.
Susan Winslow is an English professor who teaches composition, research writing, critical thinking, and literature in southern California. She received her B.A. in Drama from the University of Southern California, her M.A. in English literature from California State
University at Long Beach, and her EdD in Educational Leadership and Management from Capella University. She leads several book clubs, including the DNRS Literary Book Club. She started her journey with DNRS after her perfect storm and has never looked back. She is a traveler, learner, and hiker. Her strong connection with nature and birds has helped her with her healing journey, and she is in the process of writing a children short story series based on her visualizations with her friend Ray the Redhawk.
She may be reached at the following:
Facebook: Susan McCormick Winslow