The County of Vermilion River is sponsoring free wellness courses through The Nest Project over the next three months.
The Practice of Mindfulness began last night on Zoom, and will continue throughout March, while Journaling for Wellness sessions will begin in in April, and Choosing Joy sessions will begin in May.
“Mindfulness is not only something you’ve heard about the last couple years, the practice is 2,600 years old,” said Jodi Simmonds, lead educator.
“It got to the western world in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and to the scientific or medical world in the 1980’s so it is not new, and it is not the same for everyone.”
She said people’s minds like to hang out in the future, but it takes a lot of extra energy to worry, and 47 per cent of the time their mind wanders.
She and her colleague, Kerri Lorenson, say that mindfulness is to be fully present in the moment to the mind, body and surroundings, with a level of curiosity and kindness. Children are naturally mindful she said, often looking at things as if for the first time.
“Practising mindfulness can offer stress reduction, improves our working memory and focus. It can allow for more cognitive flexibility and the ability to shift our thinking, as well as allow emotional regulation by creating a pause. That impacts our relationships and creates better sleep,” said Kerri Lorenson, Lead Educator.
“It impacts our entire body when we meet our thoughts with a kind and compassionate approach – bathing our brain in dopamine and oxytocin.
She herself has a busy mind and said sometimes mindfulness can be tricky. She said it’s about finding out what works for people because practices come with ease and some do not.
Participants reviewed challenges and practices including breathing exercises and listening exercises. They were even encouraged to try adding more mindful practices to their week ahead.
“It doesn’t have to be a big formal sit down activity,” said Simmonds.
“Some people just practise a one minute breathing activity three or four times a day. Deep, controlled belly breathing allows you to think you are safe, and it can be a wonderful tool to move you out of dis-regulation.”
Lorenson suggested using a person’s senses as an anchor to maintain that focus including things they see or hear, as well as their breath or a mantra.
“Some days are easier than others but eventually we hope to find ourselves living in a more mindful state. Thank you so much for investing this time in yourself and choosing to spend it with us,” said Simmonds.
For more information or to register for a free session you can visit: thenestproject.ca