Wedge Gardens harnesses mindfulness

A mindfulness exercise at Wedge Gardens.

Wedge Gardens’ Kendra Neethling has begun the journey to becoming a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher through the University of Massachusetts.

The American university is considered a MBSR leader, says Kendra, who heads up the occupational therapy department of the Rand Aid substance abuse treatment centre in Whitney Gardens.

MBSR is respected within the medical community, she says, and is offered as a complement to traditional medical and psychological treatments, rather than a replacement.

Kendra recently introduced MBSR sessions at Wedge Gardens, which prides itself an offering holistic rehabilitation that addresses not only a patient’s addiction but its root causes. The centre also has programmes to equip patients for reintegration into society so that they are less likely to relapse.

Mindfulness teaches participants how to harness their own innate abilities to diminish stress and pain, and to improve overall physical and mental health.

Kendra explains: “Mindfulness is a practice of developing the skills of paying attention in a particular way through non-judgement and acceptance of the present moment. It is a skill with many benefits, including stress reduction, decreasing impulsivity and creating fulfilling engagements in daily life.”

She says that Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and the creator of Logotherapy – which is the pursuit of meaning for one’s life, sums up the benefits of mindfulness perfectly for those engaging in a journey of self discovery and recovery: “Between stimulus and response there’s a space; in that space lies our power to choose our response; in our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

“In other words,” says Kendra, “one of the main skills the Wedge Gardens patients are learning is that of pause: a pause or a moment where one can choose how to respond rather than react to life.

“Most of us are unaware of this space ‘between stimulus and response’ because we get caught in habitual patterns of reacting to life. Mindfulness makes us aware of these patterns of behaviour,” she says.

The mindfulness sessions that start the day at Wedge Gardens begin with some theory around the benefits and skills of mindfulness and conclude with the experimental, active engagement of the skills; such as body scans, breath meditations, mindful movement and cultivating awareness of thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

Kendra says that mindfulness has begun to permeate the lives of the people at Wedge Gardens, with noticeable benefits to their recovery process. “It is with great anticipation that Wedge Gardens continues to grow in this practice,” she says.

For more information, call Wedge Gardens on 011 430 0320.

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