Encouraging Conversations About Race, Training the Brain, and More Mindfulness News

Keep up with the latest in the world of mindfulness.

Pleasant conversation. Delighted nice positive man smiling and pointing at his friend while having a pleasant conversation

Draw On

Nova Scotia based graphic designer Melissa Lloyd founded Doodle Lovely in 2016 to draw our attention to the here-and-now—creatively. In addition to a range of guided doodle journals and workbooks, in 2020 Lloyd also began facilitating Doodle Breaks: guided sessions for organizations (over Zoom or in person), which she’s already brought to clients in the tech sector, first responders, and other high-stress environments.

Her years of mindfulness practice inspired her to study how putting pen to paper connects us to our natural awareness—which encourages judgment-free, creative thinking, notes Lloyd. “If you can take even 5 minutes for a healthy break, that’s where all those ‘a-ha’ moments happen,” Lloyd told Mindful. “It’s about bringing the person into the present moment through the doodling process.”

Now Hear This

The constant ringing or buzzing in the ears that is the hallmark of tinnitus can present itself as a low-level annoyance in some cases, but multiple scientific studies reveal that people with tinnitus have an increased risk of anxiety and depression. And while the Mayo Clinic notes that often tinnitus can’t be treated and must instead be endured, an Australian start-up has an app for that.

Tinnibot is an online chatbot that supports those suffering from tinnitus through the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, mindfulness, and sound therapy. It features lessons based on relaxation and meditation, on how to transform negative thoughts and increase resilience. It also provides users with access to online counseling with a psychologist.

A Little More Conversation

Necessary conversations about race don’t stop when the hashtag stops trending, or at the end of Black History Month. But Black, Indigenous, and people of color often carry the burden of educating their white peers. Professors at two Nova Scotian universities, Dr. Ajay Parasram and Alex Khasnabish, invite white-identifying students to a monthly drop-in where they can ask questions about the complex race dynamics within society.

“I just want everyone to reap the benefits of safe intellectual space,” Dr. Parasram told his university’s newspaper, “but in order to build that, white people need to deepen their understanding of how race operates.” The first session of Safe Space for White Questions, held in person on campus, had only a few students in attendance, but when the session moved online, more than 200 students attended.

Brain Training

One positive outcome of the pandemic: increased conversations about mental health. For Dr. Richard Davidson and his colleagues at the Center for Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2020 provided an opportunity to look for strategies for increasing mental wellness and resilience—even for those who are not experiencing mental illness.

Our brains are plastic, able to modify and rewire. When the brain is faced with challenges, it adapts and overcomes. With this in mind, Davidson and his colleagues Dr. Christy Wilson-Mendenhall and Dr. Cortland Dahl developed a framework they call The Plasticity of Well-being. The framework is built on four pillars: awareness, connection, insight, and purpose, all of which, the study’s authors say, can be developed through mental training. They hope the framework will be broadly used by therapists, meditation teachers, and healthcare professionals.

Call for Calm

In an effort to inspire joy in the midst of pandemic-induced gloom, Canadian artist and musician Kathryn Calder set up a hotline people can call to hear soothing sounds. You can dial 1-877-2BECALM to choose from nine different recordings, from children’s laughter, to Indigenous stories, to a guided relaxation meditation. Calder is Victoria, BC’s artist in residence and says she was inspired by a directive often repeated by her provincial health officer: “to be calm.”

Acts of Kindness

Calgary’s Donny Marchuk says that in tough times, his elderly golden retriever, Sully, was there for him. Now, he’s repaying the favor. Sully can’t get around like he used to, so Marchuk pulls him on hikes in a wagon he calls an “adventure chariot.” He says an added benefit is that it makes other people smile to see them.

Seattle home bakers donated over 1,300 loaves of bread to a local food bank that’s seen increased demand due to the pandemic. Community Loaves is a volunteer network of about 500 bakers. The home bakers are urged to keep one of every four loaves for themselves as thanks for their work.

British Columbia MLA Ravi Kahlon tweeted about a proud dad moment when his 10-year-old son asked a new kid in his class to hang out. At the end of the day, Kahlon’s son received a note from his new friend that said sitting with him “felt better than anything,” thanked him, and asked to do it again. The note features a drawing of a rainbow.