April 23, 2016
Connecting with Ourselves Through Awareness
As reported by Statistic Brain Research Institute (2016), 77 percent of people experience physical symptoms caused by stress and almost equally, 73 percent of them reported feeling psychological symptoms of stress. Experts, including those at Edgewood Center for Children and Families, continue to look for healthy and beneficial ways to work with stress. One such method that is growing in popularity is mindfulness - a way to alleviate psychological feelings of stress or anxiety, as well as other physical, mental, and emotional challenges. It can be loosely defined as a focused awareness of the present moment.
The practice has even been advocated for by the Harvard University Center for Wellness as well as the National Institute for Health.
Jonathan Weinstock, a Program Manager and Mindfulness Instructor at Edgewood's School and Community Based Services, has been teaching mindfulness to Edgewood staff since 2010. It's been so effective, that in 2012, he began incorporating mindfulness into Edgewood's Hospital Diversion program for youth - many who have suffered from abuse, neglect and psychological trauma.
"Our attention throughout the day is typically divided, which can cause stress as we lose connection with ourselves and get caught-up in our habitual thinking patterns, Weinstock explains. "Every week I guide Edgewood participants through a series of exercises that help them gain a concentrated focus on the present moment through guided teaching. This allows for a better understanding and response to their internal experiences as well as to their environment."
So, how do you bring mindfulness into your life?
Jonathan suggests using existing daily activities and processes—such as eating, walking, or breathing—as an opportunity to bring attention to your experience. For example, he suggests slowing down to focus on the sensation of your feet on the ground as you walk or following the natural course of your breath.
Through mindfulness, youth and staff at Edgewood are taught to recognize what's really happening in the world around them in this moment, in a non-judgmental, and kind way. Feelings of anger or exhaustion, for example, are usually negative, challenging and unpleasant experiences for most people. Mindfulness allows participants to recognize these—and all—feelings without labeling them as good or bad, and to understand how the body actually feels when angry or fatigued. This enlightenment brings greater personal kindness with less focus on the difficult or negative experiences.
Even practicing a “mindful minute” by practicing a series of natural breathing (inhales and exhales) throughout the day can help one work through internal and external stressors.
For more information on mindfulness you can visit:
Or, for a guided mindfulness experience, you may download the following Apps on your smartphone for free: Head Space; Calm; Insight Timer Meditation.
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