Newsletter from Employee Health Promotions
October Edition 2021
National Mental Illness Awareness Week is October 3-9, 2021.
This week is marked by community education efforts in all 50 states to raise awareness that mental illnesses are treatable medical conditions, and that there is help and hope for children and adults with mental illnesses and their families.
Join National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota to celebrate Mental Illness Awareness Week. Learn about mental illnesses, treatment options, self-care, and mental health around the world. Classes and forums will feature clinical professionals, researchers, faith leaders, mental health advocates, and people with lived experience with mental illness. Celebrate National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Healing and Understanding, Depression Screening Day, and World Mental Health Day with NAMI Minnesota. All classes and forums will be held online over Zoom. Learn more HERE.
How to Meditate
Meditation is a simple practice available to all, which can reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity and promote happiness. Learning how to meditate is straightforward, and the benefits can come quickly. Here, we offer basic tips to get you started on a path toward greater equanimity, acceptance and joy. Take a deep breath, and get ready to relax.
Find a comfortable spot and get ready to relax. Setting aside time for formal meditation is an important way to establish a routine and get comfortable with the practice. Even just a few minutes a day can make a big difference.
“Some people complain about taking time out of their day,” said Atman Smith, who teaches meditation to underserved communities in Baltimore. “Practice is important though. It’s a tool you can use to bring yourself back to the present in stressful situations.”
But we shouldn’t stop being mindful when we stop meditating. “The purpose of mindfulness meditation is to become mindful throughout all parts of our life, so that we’re awake, present and openhearted in everything we do,” said Tara Brach, a popular meditation teacher based near Washington, D.C. “Not just when we’re sitting on the cushion.”
Mindfulness meditation isn’t about letting your thoughts wander. But it isn’t about trying to empty your mind, either. Instead, the practice involves paying close attention to the present moment — especially our own thoughts, emotions and sensations — whatever it is that’s happening.
It’s inevitable: During meditation, your mind will roam. You may notice other sensations in the body, things happening around you, or just get lost in thought, daydreaming about the past or present, possibly judging yourself or others.
There’s nothing wrong with this — thinking is just as natural as breathing. “It’s the natural conditioning of the mind to wander,” said Ms. Brach. When this happens, simply notice what it is you were thinking about or what was distracting you, then take a moment and pause.
You don’t need to pull your attention right back to the breath. Instead, let go of whatever it was you were thinking about, reopen your attention, then gently return your awareness to the breath, being present for each inhalation and exhalation.
“Don’t just drag the mind back to the breath,” said Ms. Brach. “Instead reopen the attention, then gently come and land again.” After a few breaths, invariably, the mind will wander again. Don’t beat yourself up about this. It’s natural. What’s important is how we respond when it happens. Simply acknowledge whatever it is you were thinking of — without ascribing too much judgment to it, without letting it carry you away — and take a moment to come back to the present, and resume your meditation.
“Where we build our skill is in the practice of coming back,” said Ms. Brach. “Coming back again and again. Notice it — thinking — and then pause, and then come back to the present moment.”
You can practice mindfulness meditation on your own anytime and anywhere. But listening to basic guided meditations can also be helpful, especially when getting started. Instructions from an experienced teacher can help remind us to come back to the present moment, let go of distracting thoughts and not be so hard on ourselves.
Linked above, are four guided meditations you can listen to that will help you remain in the present moment. Choose the one that’s the right length for you: One minute is a great place to start but also good if you simply don’t have a lot of time. If you’re more experienced or ready for an extended mindfulness session, try the 10- or 15-minute sessions. You can download these tracks and listen to them when you’re ready to meditate.
Welcome to Employee Health Promotions
Employee Health Promotions is made possible through a partnership with South Central Service Coop and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. It is the promotion of health and wellness activities for employees of Mankato Area Public Schools. This work influences the physical, mental, economic and social well-being of employees and in turn the health of their families and our community.
Watch for EHP FYI in your email each month, where we will highlight need to know and good to know information for your health and wellness.
Get to know your EHP Site Representative(s), learn what activities they have planned for your building and join in!
Visit the Employee Benefits page for more details on resources available to you.
Watch Wellness Wednesday with Tia on Youtube.
Sign Up for Tuesday and Thursday Fitness Classes with Tia. Classes begin October 5th.