Zen Concept, Photo of spa stones and waterlily Lake CHN has been hosting a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program for parents and caregivers of heart children. There are eight consecutive 2.5-hour online classes on Thursday evenings, plus an orientation and a half-day retreat. CHN hopes to host another MBSR workshop in the fall of 2021. Watch for an email invitation.

What is MBSR?

The MBSR program was originally developed in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center to help people learn to better cope and live with stress. He described mindfulness as “the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Through mindfulness-based practices, participants develop increased awareness of present-moment experience as it arises, including the thought, emotional, and behavioural patterns related to stressful situations. Participants learn that, though they cannot always change the circumstances in which they find themselves, they can choose how to respond more clearly and skillfully, and less reactively, when faced with difficult situations.

One heart mom’s experience

Tara Edwards jumped at the chance when she saw the email from CHN offering the eight-week MBSR course.

“I have wanted to do this course for many years, and what better time than during a global pandemic where I can participate virtually! I knew I would find the course to be intriguing, but the common thread of other heart parents doing it along with me brought a unique experience. It has been comforting to hear similar challenges and to learn new tools as a way to cope with our everyday stressors to help support our heart kids, our families, and ourselves.

“Together, we have been learning the practice of mindfulness, or as I now understand it to be…a non-judgmental awareness, an opportunity to just ‘be.’

“Marnie and Melanie, our most respectful and genuine facilitators, have guided us through meditative and movement practices during our weekly class. Individuals are asked to commit 45 minutes a day to practising on their own in order to support a lifestyle change and to get the most out of the course.

“My main takeaway thus far has been noticing how my brain is constantly analyzing, processing, and worrying as opposed to just noticing. I am learning to allow negative and positive experiences to just be present instead of trying to push them away or distract myself.

“I am also finding times where I’m now stopping to listen, feel, taste, see, and touch in the most unusual places, such as in grocery stores, at my kids’ school, in traffic, and during work.

“I am looking forward to completing this course and to incorporating mindfulness meditation to my everyday life.” ♥

“CHN’s Virtual Program on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” is from our summer 2021 newsletter, Heart Matters. See our Newsletters page for more stories and to subscribe.