An LET Initiative: Mindfulness Workshop

by Hannah McWhan

This past Tuesday the Leaders for An Equitable Tomorrow (LET) summer interns participated in a mindfulness and meditation workshop led by the wonderful yoga and mindfulness instructor, Sharon Marrama. It was an insightful and very well executed lesson on how to consciously practice mindfulness in our daily lives, but also on how to teach these tactics to others.

We began with learning what exactly mindfulness and meditation are, and how to apply them. According to Dr. Jon Kabat-Zin, the widely accepted founder of the Mindfulness movement, “Mindfulness is… paying attention… on purpose… in the present moment,” and it focuses on empathy and awareness. Although separate, but certainly related, the practice of meditation is more about centering our attention inwards, to our own mind and body. 

Sharon Marrama, pictured here holding a mindfulness journal.

Sharon explained three different types of meditation: guided, breathing, and body scan, to see what worked best for us personally. She first made sure we had proper posture (legs folded and back straight), then added the most important ingredient to the meditation: ambient music. Guided meditations almost follow a storyline, where the teacher recites simple sentences that explore all five senses, and help put the listener in an environment that they feel calm and at ease in. Next, the breathing meditation boiled down to a simple recipe of breathing in, holding the breath, and breathing out for measured counts. The pattern that worked best for me was inhaling for 4 counts, holding for 2, and exhaling for 8. This pattern calmed my heart rate, and made it really easy to center my mind. The final method began with us lying on the floor (making it slightly unsanitary, but very relaxing), and then Sharon narrated how we should focus our minds on relaxing specific parts of our bodies, from our left feet to our elbows, and then relaxing them bit by bit. 

She also walked us through some mindful actions like daily affirmations, exercises, and how to recognize and react to stressful situations. Overall, the experience was incredible! I left the workshop more confident in my ability to manage my stress with tools like counted breathing and mindfulness, as well as some brightly colored stress balls! 

Hannah McWhan is a LET summer intern serving with the Network for Social Justice.

Leaders for An Equitable Tomorrow

Mindfulness Workshop – 7/18/23

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