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Just breathe

You don’t have to be a Zen master in order to find inner peace.

Jenn Scott May 8th, 2012

The Mindfulness Way Through Depression
1-3 p.m. Saturday
Windsong Innerspace
2201 N.W. Interstate 44 Service Rd.

 When it comes to investing in yourself, the return on optimal health can be rewarding to all areas of life. While therapy and counseling can be helpful in navigating those difficult patches, the cost of a regular trip to the shrink can get pricey, even with insurance.

So, what’s the best way to manage yourself? Studies in alternative therapy and cognitive mindfulness suggest that a deeper sense of self — an awakening of the soul, if you will — is crucial to a successful and balanced life.

“It’s all about learning how to stay in your body … in your heart. And life becomes a little easier,” said Beverly Evans, an Oklahoma City licensed social worker with three decades of counseling practice.

In the past six years, she’s incorporated mindfulness techniques as coping mechanisms for conditions like depression and anxiety.

She explained the importance of retraining your brain to be engaged with one moment at a time. Preoccupation with a past event that was positive might begin to make you feel melancholy that those emotions aren’t currently with you. If you’re recalling a negative scenario, you’re likely to be sad or angry about it.

“When you can practice being in the present, when you can learn how to get back in your body and notice what’s happening around you, [you’ll be] happier. There’s more potential for joy,” said Evans. “There’s a lot more potential for relaxation. When you start thinking ahead to what can happen tomorrow or next week, there’s a lot of anxiety.”

Retraining the brain starts with a variety of exercises, and Saturday’s “The Mindfulness Way Through Depression” class on will focus on sitting and walking meditation, instruction, personal reflection and sharing.

The class is restricted to 20 or fewer people and will be facilitated by Pat Webb, local artist and Zen teacher, and Kae Koger, associate professor at the University of Oklahoma and a mindfulness practitioner.

The class is sponsored by The Silence Foundation, a nonprofit organization co-founded by Webb and dedicated to the contemplative arts.

Webb advised taking time to slow down, breathe and become mindful of your life in order to gain perspective.

“We’re helping people find new ways to pause, breathe and take in the goodness of life here and now. That’s mindfulness at its best,” said Webb.

Proceeds from the class benefit Oklahoma teens in the Teen Mindfulness and Resilience Project of the foundation.

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