What is Mindfulness

soup girl Medium 257x300 What is MindfulnessThroughout counseling circles, the practice of “mindfulness” is getting a lot of recognition. For many of us, mindfulness may be a new term. I wanted to take some time to explain mindfulness and the benefits that it is said to promote.

Mindfulness is purposefully slowing your mind down to focus on what you are experiencing in that particular moment. So often in our modern culture, we are trained to multitask. We aren’t just walking from one building to another, cooking dinner, or even brushing our teeth- we are thinking about what’s next. In those moments we are making lists, processing emotions, and thoughts, all while accepting new information. Busyness runs throughout our culture. Anxiety is on the rise. Mindfulness- in contrast- is a tool counselors have been using to try and slow down the day. In this process, stimuli from the outside are processed piece-by-piece and filtered through a screen of pausing and relaxing.

Yoga and Meditation are often forms of Mindfulness that are taught through counseling to be intentional in helping bring Mindfulness about. Typically these exercises begin with focusing on breathing and slowly allowing yourself to receive the benefits of self-control, patience, reasoning, lessened anxiety, improved concentration, and increased flexibility and attention.

So take some time in your day to stop, notice your breathing and your surroundings.  Become attentive to the present moment and exhale the tension and inhale a full complete breath. Practice a mindful moment each day and you might find that it helps you slow down and experience life more fully.  You might also find that you enjoy your co-workers, employees, spouse and even kids a little more when you are more mindful of the moments. Living a slower and purposeful life is one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself and the ones you love.

Self-Centered Behavior is no match for Service Work

haiti 2 199x300 Self Centered Behavior is no match for Service WorkHere at Shelterwood, some of our students are excitedly getting ready for a short term missions trip to Haiti with Global Orphan Project . We have been on eight different trips with students to Haiti since 2011.

What’s our passion behind taking a group of kids to Haiti? We have seen drastic changes in the lives of some of the students attending the trips. Stepping outside of their comfort zone helps them gain perspective in different areas of their lives. Students are faced with questions of what joy, happiness, and satisfaction mean in light of the situation in Haiti. They are able to see themselves as helpers, and practice empathy in action. We’re not the only ones seeing benefits in short-term missions. In 2008, Barna Group released data on short-term mission trips and their affects on teens. According to that study: A majority of those who have participated in mission trips said it changed their life in some way. The most common areas of personal growth that people recall – even years later – include

-Becoming more aware of other people’s struggles (25%)
-Learning more about poverty, justice, or the world (16%)
-Increasing compassion (11%)
-Deepening or enriching their faith (9%)
-Broadening their spiritual understanding (9%)
-Boosting their financial generosity (5%)
-Others mentioned the experience helped them feel more fulfilled, become more grateful, develop new friends, and become less self centered.

For six years we have seen this study confirmed time and time again. Being self centered is something that is present in our teens’ lives. Our trips to Haiti have been amazing opportunities for us to introduce students to other ways of living and thinking. We are thankful for chances to expose our students to global awareness and a broader perspective whenever we can and excited to see what’s in store for this upcoming trip.