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Focusing on mindfulness

There’s an adage that “the answers we seek in life come when the mind is still.”
A busy mind can be tough to quiet, but a mini-grant from the Niagara Community Foundation has helped local
children with learning disabilities keep scattered thoughts in check, to focus better, and simply be their best.
The money, granted to the Learning Disabilities Association of Niagara Region, was used to teach mindfulness
to children with exceptionalities between the ages of six and 11 who were enrolled in its Better Emotional and
Social Times (BEST) program.
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences of the present
moment. It’s been proven to help manage mental health and the hope was it would promote well-being for some
of Niagara’s most vulnerable residents.
The children learned yoga and deep breathing. They did guided meditation, which included drawing a picture, all
the while, paying attention to the colours, the smells they breathed in as they drew, and how it all made them feel.
After just four mindfulness training sessions, parents and caregivers noticed their children could better express
emotions and were less distracted by their environments. Learning mindfulness techniques helped participants
understand how emotions affect their thoughts and behaviours.
Better still, they were able to apply the lessons to their everyday lives, helping them manage difficult situations
and curb inappropriate behaviours. They could focus on tasks, and were more engaged with learning.
Participants’ quieter minds provided program instructors with the answer they sought: Mindfulness practice made
BEST better. The plan is to continue including it in future programs.

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