October Workshops! Learn Mindfulness: Simple Strategies for Everyday Life

A Mindful Walk at the Audubon, Natick, MA Photo by Sofia Reddy

Mindfulness means being here in the moment by using all of your senses. You see, taste, sense, smell and hear everything happening right here, right now. Research shows that a daily mindfulness practice can help you calm down the areas of your brain that activate the “fight, flight or freeze” response. This activation of your sympathetic nervous system is helpful when there is real danger, but it’s not so helpful if it’s an imagined threat. Severe to toxic stress also triggers the stress response. Chronic exposure to severe-toxic stress can impact your immune system and make you more vulnerable to illnesses and chronic health issues such as migraines, digestion problems and muscle tension.

Mindfulness helps strengthen the parts of your brain responsible for executive functions such as, thinking, planning, organizing and problem solving. When your mind and body are calm, you’re better able to manage daily life activities and feel energized rather than depleted by them.

Source: van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. New York, NY, US: Viking

Join me this October for three mindfulness workshops focused on how to lower your stress levels and improve your well-being. Each session will cover a specific category and includes interactive exercises focused on mindful communication and grounding techniques to help you calm down. I’ll share tips and resources for practicing self-care to stop stressing and start flourishing at work and at home. Register for all three sessions and bring a partner to the third session for free.
A52-19 $25/1 session; $40/2 sessions; $60/3 sessions

Sessions take place in Medway, MA and are offered through Medway Community Education at the local high school.

Session 1: Mindful Self-Care – Learn how to prevent burnout at work and in your everyday life. Thursday – 1 session High School Rm. 119-2 October 10 6:30-8:00 pm

Session 2: Mindfulness with Children & Family – Learn how to stop stressing and start connecting. Thursday – 1 session High School Rm. 119-2 October 17 6:30-8:00 pm

Session 3: Mindful Communication – Learn the importance of emotional support in intimate relationships. Thursday – 1 session High School Rm. 119-2 October 24 6:30-8:00 pm

Register Here!

See what others are saying…

I’ve had the privilege of working with Sofia for a number of years. She is a skilled clinician, generous meditation instructor and a genuinely kind human being. She is a shining example of how a meditation practice can change one’s life and enable them to help others in a unique way by sharing that practice.

~Anthony A. Cernera, M.Ed, founder and lead instructor of New Leaf Meditation Project

This workshop helped to add a more involved view of mindfulness, something I can see myself using. 

~Cindy Apgar, Education Professional
Workshop attended – Mindfulness in the classroom: how to reduce stress & promote well-being

Workshop was very helpful. All of your practices would be great to incorporate into the classroom.

~Alexis Spallone, Education Professional
Workshop attended – Mindfulness in the classroom: how to reduce stress & promote well-being

Loved her kind demeanor and helpfulness. Her practice of mindfulness was refreshing. Class discussions were engaging and didn’t feel like someone was speaking at you the entire class.

~Former graduate student, MSW program @USC

Instructor Reddy’s teaching effectiveness would improve even more if she were to teach a mindfulness course. She regularly led the class in mindfulness practices, and now I’m eager to continue the practices in my personal life and hope to one day use them in a professional setting.

~Former graduate student, MSW program @USC

The mindfulness moments are my favorite! Although some people feel uncomfortable I think it’s extremely valuable because I think moving through that discomfort is part of the process to a better state of mind.

~Former graduate student, MSW program @USC

Please note: the information presented on this site is not meant to replace professional healthcare. Always consult with a healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns regarding your health. The views expressed here are solely my opinions and suggestions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the mental health or educational facilities in which I work.

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New Mom Self-Care Support Groups – Accepting Referrals!

A mindful moment in the garden
Photo by Sofia Reddy

I have been a working mom for the last 10 years and a clinical social worker since 2004. I have worked with hundreds of clients to help them manage stress and overwhelm in their lives.

Being a mom has been a humbling experience for me and one of the toughest jobs I ever had. In 2011 I started practicing meditation and mindfulness and teaching it to my clients with positive results. I then started practicing mindfulness at home and noticed how it helped me and my kids calm down and enjoy each other’s company more. I want to share what I have learned in my practice with other moms.

Studies show that mindfulness practice is effective in managing stress and improving well-being. Mindfulness is a practice we can use to help us (and our kids) calm down, manage stress, relax, improve sleep and increase problem solving abilities. When we practice mindfulness we can teach our kids these skills by example so they reap the benefits too.

You will participate in interactive exercises focused on mindful communication and grounding techniques to help both yourself and your kids calm down from difficult emotions.

Topics include:

  • Mindful body scan to let tension go
  • Breathing techniques to calm your nervous system (and your kids’)
  • Visualization exercises that promote peace and tranquility
  • Mindful activities to help you stress less and connect more with your family

You will leave with practical tips and additional resources for practicing self-care to stop stressing and start flourishing!

To RSVP email me sofias.sanctuary@gmail.com

Groups will meet in the evening or on Saturday. Please specify your preferred days/times.

We will meet online via the Zoom platform (easy to use!) or we will identify a location in the Holliston, MA area for an in-person meeting. Meetings are 1 hour long. Cost is $20 per session.

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Top 3 mindfulness myths: Fact vs. Fiction. Is mindfulness just a fad?

Over the years of teaching my clients mindfulness skills I’ve heard many of them express their reluctance about it. I’ve heard mindfulness described as “hokey” or “just a fad.” I’ve also heard many people say they don’t have time for this practice – there are just too many things to get done in a day!

Research, however, shows that a daily mindfulness practice can help you calm your nervous system down and improve the functioning in the part of your brain called the prefrontal cortex. This is the area of your brain responsible for executive functioning which includes memory, flexible thinking and self-control. Daily mindfulness practice can help you exercise this part of your brain by learning to focus your mind on the present moment – this is necessary when taking tests or completing another task that requires your undivided attention.

Let’s look at the top 3 myths vs. facts about mindfulness:

Myth 1: I have no time for mindfulness practice.

Fact:  Mindfulness can be practiced any time, any place and for as long as you want. The benefit of a daily mindfulness practice is improved focus and productivity. You can start with just a one-minute mindfulness practice each day and work your way up. Daily practice helps improve your productivity in the long run because you’re taking the mental breaks your brain needs. You’re also giving yourself a chance to refuel so you then have energy to do more!

Myth 2: Mindfulness is a new age fad that people will lose interest in eventually.

Fact: Mindfulness practice has a long history with roots going back to the era of Confucius. In western mental health treatment programs, mindfulness is quickly becoming what’s considered an important component in evidence based treatment approaches to help people overcome many ailments including anxiety, depression and addiction. Mindfulness is an overarching category. Meditation is one type of mindfulness practice but there are many others. There are many ways to practice this skill but it starts with giving yourself permission to stop distractions, focus and reflect. My workshops discuss this in more detail.

Myth 3: I can experience a “blank” mind with mindful meditation practice.

Fact: One purpose of mindful meditation is to recognize helpful and realistic thoughts versus unhelpful and unrealistic ones. The mind produces thoughts like eyes produce tears. The mind is always working and this practice teaches us to “tame” it so we can effectively manage difficult thoughts that arise. Our minds are still working even when we sleep! There is no such thing as a blank mind but you can learn to cultivate a calm mind.

Dr. Langer, a researcher on mindfulness states, “One reason mindfulness may seem effortful is because of the pain of negative thoughts. When thoughts are uncomfortable, people often struggle to erase them. The pain, however, does not come from mindful awareness of these thoughts, but from a single-minded understanding of the painful event. A mindful new perspective would erase the pain more effectively.
 -Ellen J. Langer, Ph.D. – Mindfulness

I was first introduced to the idea of mindfulness as a skill in my undergraduate program at Boston University. Mindfulness is one of the first books I read in my introduction to psychology class. Over the years, I’ve been using and teaching the skill of mindful thinking and problem-solving to manage past traumatic memories and current stressors. In her book, Dr. Langer explains how a shift in perspective can help you challenge limiting beliefs. Doing so can help you overcome the negative effects of trauma and experience post-traumatic growth instead.

Interested in trying your own meditation practice? Meditation is one form of mindfulness practice. Below are two resources I recommend for beginning students:

“Meditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively.”

Sharon Salzberg is a beloved meditation teacher who co-founded Insight Meditation Society in 1974. She overcame her own childhood of loss and turmoil. In her book Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation, she introduces her readers to a 28-day meditation practice. The book includes a CD with guided meditation exercises. 

One of my favorite meditations is the loving-kindness meditation. Research suggests that daily and long-term practice of this meditation can help improve your mental functioning. I highly recommend this book!

“Mindfulness isn’t about getting anywhere else. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn is an American Professor and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is credited with bringing the Eastern practice of meditation to Western  secular practices within the mental health field. 

His CD’s include helpful guided exercises to get you started with your own meditation practice. I have used them personally and in my clinical practice as an example of different ways to practice mindfulness. 

Are you interested in hosting a mindfulness workshop for your team or work setting? I have coached education, healthcare and other professionals on how to use mindfulness to manage stress and improve employees’ overall well being. Burnout and compassion fatigue are a major contributor to missed productivity, work days and team conflict.

Workshops include:

– Practical stress management tools you can start using right away
– Help with developing your own or team’s self-care action plan
– Access to my private Facebook discussion group for ongoing community 
support and resource sharing 

Workshops can be tailored to your organization’s needs. Contact me at sofias.sanctuary (at) gmail.com or by cell: 713-817-3523 for a free consultation. P

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