In response to the increasing input and demands from our world, more and more attention is being given to the practice of mindfulness.
The Dexter Wellness Coalition is promoting the health benefits of mindfulness through their Mindful Dexter initiative. The free sessions will begin in September (check schedule below). Jeanette Brooks is coordinating the Coalition’s effort to provide classes where folks can drop in for some intentional practices designed to bolster their mental health.
But, what exactly is mindfulness?
“Mindfulness meditation is focusing the awareness on the present moment, without judgment,” Jeanette says.
“In our society and culture we spend very little time really in the present,” she explains. “Our reward system, our economy, everything about the way we live is wired for us to either ruminate on stuff that has already happened, so we can either learn from it or regret it, or we fret about what’s going to happen next.”
Research has shown that mindfulness is not only relaxing, but it changes your brain. Harvard neurologist Sara Lazar conducted a study that compared long-term meditators to a control group. They found those practicing mindfulness showed an increased amount of gray matter. Lazar explained in an interview:
“It’s well-documented that our cortex shrinks as we get older – it’s harder to figure things out and remember things. But in this one region of the prefrontal cortex, 50-year-old meditators had the same amount of gray matter as 25-year-olds.”
“Our brains are like a runaway train,” Jeanette says. “We don’t ever get a break. Our brains never stop running. It only makes sense that if you stop wearing it down, the brain could recover and grow.”
Not only that, but Mindful Dexter states on their website: “It can help sustain cognitive function as our brains age, it can help us step out of wandering or ruminating thought patterns, and it can reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and pain. In one study, even just a couple of weeks of practice helped people improve their focus and memory. Practicing in a group setting is a great way to reinforce skills, connect with others, and learn together – as well as bring a moment of peace and stillness to your day.”
Sessions will be held at Dexter District Library and Dexter Wellness Center and will be guided by experienced mindfulness practitioners/facilitators. The sessions have no religious affiliation and are designed for beginners as well as experienced meditators. Mindful Dexter stresses that all are welcome.
Sessions start promptly and usually include up to 20 minutes of guided meditation, followed by up to 15 minutes of silent meditation. We use the remaining time for Q&A and some brief discussion/idea-sharing around a mindfulness topic.
You can learn more about Mindful Dexter from their website at https://www.dexterwellness.org/services/community-programs/mindful-dexter/