Those wanting to take a short well-deserved break from the omnipresent global pandemic have a new option Monday.
Over the course of four weeks, area residents can check out a free virtual mindfulness program being presented in partnership with Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, Georgian College and Mindfulness Without Borders.
“During this challenging time, sometimes we need guidance and to commit to self-care and honour our mental well-being,” Waypoint communications officer Kristi Lalonde said, noting mindfulness can help calm anxiety and build healthy coping skills.
Lalonde said the practice involves focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations without judgment.
“Practising mindfulness can help one learn to be more grounded in the present as well as more connected to what is happening in the moment, just as it is,” she said.
Four sessions of 30 minutes each are scheduled with several options available: March 1 to 22 at 7 p.m., March 2 to 23 at 10 a.m. and again at 7 p.m. and March 3 to 24 at 10 a.m. The virtual classes are open to everybody, from those who practised it before to relative neophytes.
Lalonde said decades of scientific research have demonstrated the positive benefits of mindfulness.
“From fortifying the immune system to reducing stress and anxiety, the integration of these practices can enhance both individual and societal growth,” she said.
Lalonde said the three partners will study the program’s effectiveness as a virtual model compared to the regular 12-week, in-person offering.
But she said they're expecting positive results.
“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, research has shown a decline in mental health across the country,” Lalonde said.
“This is particularly true for healthcare workers who are on the front lines of caring for patients and sometimes a drastic change in the way we work and our schedules.
“Mindfulness practices can help because they are adaptive and diverse. Meaning they come in all different shapes and sizes, but the goal is to ground ourselves in presence and awareness to regulate our emotions and make space calm.”
Registration for the program is required. For more information, click here.