Mindfulness practice has rapidly established itself as an evidence-based method of managing a variety of health problems, including depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder (BPD), and pain management.
Defined by noted researcher Jon Kabat-Zinn as “a particular way of paying attention – on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally,” mindfulness cultivates moment-to-moment awareness and enhances one’s capacity to adopt new and healthier stances towards life as it unfolds.
Now, thanks to a new Mindfulness Group offered by Durham Mental Health Services, over two dozen individuals have had an opportunity to learn meditation skills and make them a part of their daily health management routines.
The group, co-facilitated by Peer Support Specialist Missa Schultz and Family Support Worker Denise Gould, is now in the midst its second six-week series of sessions.
Missa explains how the group came about. “I noticed the need though my work in the C.A.L.L. (Crisis Access Linkage Line) Centre and then through discussions with Denise, who has wanted to establish a mindfulness group for families and their loved ones. There were many requests coming from various DMHS programs for hands-on mindfulness practice to help clients manage their symptoms in the moment, and that’s what mindfulness does for people. The group is our way of responding to these requests.”
Missa explains that mindfulness practice is not only about what happens during the session itself, but about how practice impacts the rest of one’s life. “Gradually, through practice and repetition, the peaceful attitude and inner strength that are cultivated during formal practice spill over into moments of everyday life.”
Missa adds that mindfulness has many advantages over some more traditional methods of health management. “Learning to train one’s attention is 100% safe, costs nothing, and the skills are portable to any place or situation. It empowers people to be fully present in any situation and to adopt a new perspective on the moment that is unfolding. It can be grounded in a practice as simple as focusing on your breath. Any moment in your life can become a mindful one.”
Missa states that she has already seen clients benefit, for example, by being able to control overwhelming anxiety when their normal response would be to flee a situation.
Co-facilitator Denise Gould says, “I LOVE this group! Friday afternoons in the summer works great for people and it is so exciting that we have some parents and their ‘adult kids’ attending together. These are parents who have been using the C.A.L.L. Centre and attending Family Support groups over the years and now they are attending this group with their loved ones. It’s such a nice opportunity to learn and share something like this together.”
For more information about DMHS Mindfulness Groups including when the next sessions will be held, please contact Missa Schultz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-666-0831, ext. 3211.