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When I first started experiencing anxiety, my family doctor recommended that I try meditation on a daily basis. He promised that the more I practiced, the easier it would be to manage my panic attacks with calm breathing and relaxation techniques. I was a stubborn teenager and meditation seemed like an overwhelming amount of work, so I decided to disregard that suggestion and carry on in an anxious state.
Almost a year ago, when I started working at the Kelty Centre, was the first time I had ever heard of mindfulness practice as a coping tool for individuals who struggle with mental health challenges. I did research and read dozens of articles on mindfulness to try to fully understand why this practice was spreading like wildfire in the mental health field for children, youth and adults. It wasn’t until I registered for my own six week mindfulness and meditation course that I could fully understand how amazing mindfulness really is.
Mindfulness is a shift in your thinking and in the way you view the world. We are all in a constant state of busy and as a society we can’t seem to make time to take care of ourselves. Being mindful is practicing living in the moment; savouring the present and carrying that outlook into your daily decisions and activities. I learned that you could practice mindfulness on transit, while you’re walking to work or class, and while you’re eating! There are so many different variations of meditation breathing and relaxation exercises, so you can choose which one speaks to you and makes the most sense for your lifestyle. After the six week course ended, I was hooked on practicing mindfulness and meditation whenever my anxiety kicked in and on a daily basis when I could find time. I even felt a boost in my mood after adding mindfulness to my coping tool box!
A few months ago, I participated in the filming of a youth mindfulness video for the Kelty Centre with many youth that take part in the mindfulness group at BC Children’s hospital and some young people who practice mindfulness in their own lives. In the video, the youth speak about how mindfulness practice has changed their perspective on their daily life, with or without a mental health diagnosis. During the filming of the video we did a group meditation and practiced a body scan, sitting meditation, walking meditation and mindfully eating an orange.
We all experience stress and sadness in our lives and I would recommend learning this skill to anyone. You can watch the youth mindfulness video here. It is available in English, as well as other languages such as French, Farsi, Punjabi, Korean, and Simplied and Traditional Chinese. You can also download and listen to recordings of different meditations that you can practice at home or on the go. Good luck!