Caloosahatchee Mindfulness for Well-beingOct 31, 2023 11:32AM ● By Linda Sechrist
Many people are curious about mindfulness meditation, wondering if it resembles Transcendental Meditation or other ancient forms based on Eastern spiritual traditions. To satisfy their curiosity, Southwest Floridians can join Caloosahatchee Mindfulness at a Day of Mindfulness Silent Retreat on November 18 in the community room of Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, in Fort Myers.
While all meditation practices are intended for well-being, they do have differences. “Mindfulness is paying attention to your life in this present moment without judgment. It has also been called clear seeing and friendly attention to the present. When we’re mindful, we reduce stress, enhance performance, gain insight and awareness through observing our own mind and increase our attention to other’s well-being. Everyone can benefit,” says Maggie Stevens, a mindfulness meditation teacher and member of the Caloosahatchee Mindfulness community (formerly Hearts Path to Mindful Living) in the Ft. Myers area.
Dedicated members of Caloosahatchee Mindfulness—Maggie Mullins, Mary Robinson and Kathy Leitsch—formed The Caloosahatchee Rising Tide Sangha. Trained in Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, they offered meditation in the Lee Health cardiac rehab and in some adult living facilities in the area until COVID-19.
“Our Caloosahatchee Mindfulness community is in the Plum Village tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn. Our Friday morning sitting meditations at 10 a.m. and Friday evenings at 5 p.m. are for one hour on Zoom. They include a 20-minute meditation with initial guidance, and then silent sitting. After the meditation, there is a group discussion, five-minute silent reflection, and then a thought for the week and check-out. These meditations and the sangha are free, and no experience is necessary. All are welcome,” says Stevens, who adds that annual membership in Caloosahatchee Mindfulness is affordable (student/seniors $20, individual $20 and family $60). The goal is to provide mindfulness to the community as a way of helping with well-being.
“Even if you aren’t familiar with the reading, you’re likely to find something of value in the discussion and be able to share from your own experiences if you choose,” says Stevens. These meditations are free, and all are welcome,” says Stevens.
Caloosahatchee Mindfulness has other offerings such as walking meditations to bring awareness to the present moment and all the beauty that surrounds us. According to Thich Nhat Hanh, practicing mindful walking is a profound and pleasurable way to deepen the connection with the body and the Earth.
An Introduction to Yoga Nidra, with Jamie Verley, consists of gentle movement, mindful breathing and a guided relaxation that makes an individual feel like they’re floating on air. The restorative mindfulness technique is referred to as “yogic sleep”. The session includes the science behind how yoga nidra works, followed by an hour-long practice.
Mindful Art, with Vicki Durso, is a free-flowing meditative art practice with mindful drawing using neurographic art. The technique, invented by a Russian psychologist, enhances brain function by impacting brain wave patterns, emotions and the nervous system. No previous art experience is required.
The Wednesday Morning Book Club is presently reading Boundless Heart, by Christina Feldman. The small group studies and shares books on mindfulness practices to create a happier and healthier life.
At a time when millions of people worldwide are struggling with their mental health and well-being, mindfulness meditation can help. “Meditation is an investment in a better life,” advises Stevens.
Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve is located at 7751 Penzance Blvd., in Ft. Myers. For more information on the retreat from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., call Caloosahatchee Mindfulness at 941-888-0116 or visit CaloosahatcheeMindfulness.org.