5 Things We Learned from Behind The Scene Presents: Mindfulness
MAX Ottawa and The Ottawa Hospital’s April edition of our monthly health and wellness talk series was on mindfulness. Sheila Robertson, MSW, RSW, and Tesia Bryski co-presented. Sheila is a social worker and maintains a personal mindfulness practice in the tradition of the Plum Village Mindfulness Practice Centre and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Tesia is a second-year master’s student currently studying counselling psychology at the University of Ottawa, with a specialization in Mindfulness-Based Interventions. Both Tesia and Sheila teach the mindfulness program at the Ottawa Mindfulness Clinic.
1) Our speakers first answered, “What is mindfulness?”
Mindfulness is an ongoing practice and a way of life. It teaches us to respond to events in our lives in a positive manner. We do this by bringing:
a) Attention and awareness to ourselves and our environment
b) Reacting with intention when situations appropriate and
c) Having an attitude of being non-judgemental, open-minded, and with curiosity.
2) Ways that we can practice mindfulness in our everyday life include
a) Keeping an open mind
b) Learning to stop and pause, particularly when our minds are racing
c) Linking our thoughts and awareness to our breath and
d) Learning to take conscious breaths in and out.
3) To help the community members understand the concept of how all of our sense bring awareness and increase the quality of our life, Sheila and Tesia walked us through an exercise that involved a raisin. They first had us:
a) Use our sense of sight by having us examine the raisin. We took the time to note it’s shape, color, and texture
b) Use our sense of touch by noting how it felt in our hand and rolled between our fingers
c) Use our sense of smell by bringing it to our nose and taking note of the smell
d) Use our sense of hearing and holding the raisin to our ears and slightly rolling it between our fingers
e) Lastly, we used our sense of taste of placing the raisin on our mouth. We first held in our tongue, then slowly chewed and swallowed.
Discussing the exercise after brought up a range of emotions for our attendees. They ranged from a heightened sense of awareness to noticing details they would have never thought of, childhood memories related to the food choice, to some being bored.
They lastly reminded us that we can apply this exercise to just about any activity going on in our lives. The more often we bring more senses into what we are doing, the more mindful we will be.
4) Sheila explained that being mindful is also being kind, both to ourselves and others.
Voices in our head are often critical. If we notice negative self-talk, we can talk back to ourselves in a positive tone. Better yet, we can give ourselves a compliment and take a moment to reflect and try to observe a change in our disposition.
5) Tesia and Sheila left us with a S-C-A-L-A worksheet. It’s a simple 5 step exercise that can help us make better decisions when our mind is racing.
- STOP. Interrupt your stream of thought and emotions. Bring attention to the present moment and ground yourself in it
- CALM. Take 1-3 conscious breaths and gently bring your attention back to focus. You can even practice this for a few minutes every day to be prepared in the future.
- ATTITUDE. Ask yourself, how am I feeling? Am I curious and open or closed and judgemental? Am I being kind to myself and others or critical? By focusing on positive thoughts, not passing judgement, and being open you can change your attitude
- LOOK. Notice what’s going on in your body and mind. Are you tense and your heart is racing? Are you feeling fear, frustration, anger, joy? If the situation involves another person, is there anything you notice about them?
- ACT MINDFULLY WITH INTENTION. By working through the above, we can give ourselves time to think about what we want to say and do. This will help us to act with
- will full awareness so that we are noticing the situation in its entirety and,
- intention so that we’re making a positive choice,
- Being mindful of our consequences of whatever decision we decide to make. Keeping in mind we want to act respectfully, generously, and kindly to ourselves and others.
MAX was honoured to have such fun and engaging speakers that left us with great skills to use in our everyday lives.