Life is difficult and we all experience pain and stress to varying degrees throughout our lifetime. These emotional, physical and mental pains, sometimes due to stress, bodily injury/disease, or a combination of both, are often inevitable. A fact of life. Pain and stress affect everyone. An old anonymous adage shares, “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” Suffering is the emotional context we give to pain. The stories we tell ourselves, our bodies, our minds.
Mindfulness, generally defined as paying attention to the present moment, intentionally, with kindness, curiosity, and nonjudgment, cannot take away pain, but it can ease the suffering. How we experience pain and stress can greatly decrease our suffering. When we learn to notice how our emotions, thoughts and bodily sensations correlate with our reactions, we can then begin to take control of these reactions and turn them into thoughtful and meaningful responses. Mindfulness is the pause between a stimulus and a response.
Practicing mindfulness challenges the thought that all our suffering comes from wanting to be different in this very moment.
On Saturday, May 20, at Lake Orchard Farm Retreat in Sheboygan, Mental Health America (MHA) has organized a day of self-discovery dedicated to embracing mindfulness. The first annual event will allow those familiar with mindfulness and those new to the practice and concepts the opportunity to attend a variety of mindful sessions intended to cultivate happiness and gratitude.
Sessions include Yoga in the Barn, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Essential Oils for the Mind & Body, Mindful Relationships, Creative Mindfulness, Drumming Circle and Meditation as well as a Mindful Eating program with Nourish (a local nonprofit providing education on local food systems, empowering the community to make wholesome food choices), and a property tour with owners Mary and Nate Calkins.
Attendees can sign up for individual sessions at $25/session, such as simply joining for lunch and the property tour, or they can choose between sessions, up to four, for the full day package at $75. Take this time for you, during May as Mental Health Month, to relax, reflect on the present moment, and renew. Join us to learn new ideas or nurture your practice.
Funds raised support MHA’s Sheboygan County Mindful Classrooms initiative which launched in fall 2016. Since then, MHA has connected in over 40 classrooms throughout Sheboygan County, teaching the social emotional mindful-based curriculum to over 700 students. The mindful skills training covers four categories: focus and attention, self-awareness and self-regulation, thoughts and emotions, and social skills.
Attendees must register by May 5 for the upcoming event, Mindfulness. To do so, please visit www.mhasheboygan.org. Call MHA Sheboygan at 920-458-3951 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about this event or to learn how to bring mindfulness to your classroom or place of work. Be present in your life. You deserve it.
Kate Baer is the executive director for Mental Health America in Sheboygan County and co-chair of the Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Committee, Chair of the Stigma Committee. Reach Baer at email@example.com.