On Wednesday, February 26th, Diplomatic Language Services held our first Wellness Series event on meditation and mindfulness. Led by Recruiting Manager, Kate, we saw a need for the DLS Wellness Series because teaching or learning a language can be stressful and demanding. Our Wellness Series is designed to help our staff, instructors, and students discover how much better it feels to make our health –mental, physical, and emotional -the priority.
Kate gave an informative, engaging presentation all about mindfulness and meditation. Starting with the basics, we learned that mindfulness is defined as “[a] mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”. In other words, paying attention to thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, and the surrounding environment in the present moment. Oh, and all of this should be done without judgment, which may be the most difficult part. We must be compassionate with ourselves during this practice.
Perhaps you often find yourself avoiding what you’re feeling in the present moment because the feelings are too uncomfortable to deal with. But remember, emotions –even uncomfortable ones –are normal and the essence of being human. Whatever you may be feeling, try to name it, then try to accept it. Whether it’s stress, confusion, anger, anxiety, or even despair, feelings are better dealt with head-on.
After learning about mindfulness, we moved into the meditation portion of the seminar. Mindfulness and meditation go hand-in-hand, but they are certainly not synonymous. If done correctly, mindfulness can enrich meditation, and meditation can expand mindfulness. Meditating is defined as “[t]hink[ing]deeply or focus[ing]one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation”. During this part of the seminar, attendees learned about the art of meditation.
Frequent meditation practice can reduce stress, increase attention span, enhance productivity, and even potentially fight addictions and decrease memory loss, among other benefits. Finally, the event closed with a group meditation practice before everyone parted ways and got back to their day.
Even for the most grounded of us, it’s always good to remind ourselves to slow down and appreciate the present moment. So many of us live by anticipating the future or dwelling on the past. Take it from Kate: “It is important to remember that mindfulness does NOT mean bliss. It is not about achieving perfect zen in life. Perfect zen doesn’t exist. But what you CAN do, is learn to respect and appreciate the present for everything it is and isn’t, which can reduce your stress and anxiety about the future, and encourage you to embrace what you do have now.”
Looking ahead, we have many other wellness seminars coming up this year. Our upcoming topics include:
- Adult learning and nutrition
- Anxiety and stress management
- Heat relief and awareness
- Holiday stress
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if there is a topic you think should be included in the DLS Wellness Series! Send us a message on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter, or feel free to contact Kate directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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