Mindful or Mind-full

Here is a press release and blog post on an upcoming workshop with Stephanie Curran at St.Margaret's School...

Curran is a local acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner, and a long time meditation and yoga practitioner herself. Trained in mindfulness-based stress reduction, parenting, and child-birth practices, she champions mindfulness in the community through conferences, her meditation group, Mindful Mamas, and school-based events for both parents and educators.

Mindfulness, is the awareness that arises from paying attention on purpose in the present moment and non-judgmentally, according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction training.

Who is mindfulness for? Everyone, says Curran.

“Life gets busy. But if I start feeling overwhelmed, fluttery and antsy, that’s when I find mindfulness especially helpful,” Curran says is the impact of her own practice. “In myself, I notice I’m more present, more centred, and have a better sense of connection both with myself and with others.”

Curran advances an example. When you sit on the beach are you feeling the breeze, listening the sounds of sea birds and smelling the ocean, …or are you formulating your next shopping list? She explains, “Mindfulness starts with an awareness of the external world using all the senses.”

Discussions of mindfulness might start to sound “crunchy granola” or new-agey to some, but Paula Procyshyn, Instructional Leader of Student Life at St Margaret’s, says simply “Look at the research.”

“There is a significant amount of research done on the benefits of mindfulness. It doesn’t have to include meditation," explains Procychyn. "Mindful colouring is big right now. You see colouring books for adults for sale all over the place.”

The evidence of the effectiveness of mindfulness practices in schools for improving focus and attention span among students, and reducing anxiety is the impetus behind the school’s mindfulness program.

Says Procyshyn, “My role requires me to think about the whole student and create opportunities to impact the health and well-being of our girls …The idea for Take Ten, our mindfulness program where we offer 10 minutes of guided relaxation and mindful breathing, came out of a collaboration between staff based on results of a student wellness survey conducted last school year.”

According to Curran, from this open awareness and active experience of the external world can then come a better awareness of what one is experiencing internally – emotions, our physical bodies, and sources of stress.

“As a mother mindfulness impacts the relationship I have with my daughter and my partner, but also my work where I have to connect with patients,” says Curran. “People respond to your presence.”

This is also the reason she starts her training with parents and educators, rather than going straight to teaching strategies to children. Curran hopes parents will walk away from the workshop ready to prioritize the state of their own nervous system.

“Just like in the airplane safety seminar, ‘put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others,’” says Curran. “We all know how to be activated, but learning to deactivate and modelling this behavior for our children can have a huge impact on engagement and connection.”

All parents are welcome at Friday’s workshop. The event is offered free and open to the public, but registration is required. RSVP online here.

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