Greetings HBHLer’s! For those of you who haven’t heard, HBHL got its first GRANT! Thanks to a special benefactor, HBHL can improve our delivery of wellness services to many bases. We’ve revamped our program and plan to launch new and improved HBHL services world-wide in the August/September time frame with the new school year.
Not only did our grantee help us improve our programs, but she also challenged me to do some research regarding mindfulness. If you don’t know — our visionary, Jannell, has been diligently working with Dr. Amishi Jha from the University of Miami on a special mindfulness project — details to be revealed soon. Those two nudges have prompted me to start exploring mindfulness and see what there is to see.
I started by reading a great book, it’s called “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Dr. Victor Frankl. He was a psychiatrist and holocaust survivor and tells of his survival of over 3 years in a concentration camp. He has some wonderful nuggets of wisdom in that book, but one of them is that there is space between a stimulus and our reaction where we can choose how to respond. He noted that people in the concentration camp who were physically strong were not necessarily going to survive longer than those who were mentally strong (notably, those that had meaning in their lives, or something/someone to live for). Well, all of this information got me thinking about stress in my own life and how it affects my physical state of being and my attitudes and actions.
Dr. Frankl does not say outright that he practiced mindfulness, but he does describe his ability to look within himself, to think of things that brought him great joy, to be grateful for small mercies from the guards, to find peace in a beautiful sunset, and to deliver compassion to other prisoners even as his suffering was intensified. With those examples, I could clearly see that in some instances, he was able to “mind over matter” his situation, and improve his physical state (read that as STAY ALIVE) despite terrible stress. At other times, he was able to improve his mental state of mind by stepping back for a moment and finding a memory or thought that could let him take another step. These examples give me hope, that if a starving man can give away lifesaving food, however tiny a morsel, and live to write his story, I can certainly improve my state of wellbeing by doing similar things, under a lot less stress than he was under!
With that, I’d encourage you to check out a book on mindfulness from your library. I have two suggestions from our resident Phycologist, Dr. Tracie Hughes. Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn and Sitting Still like a Frog by by Elene Snel — which is a book of mindfulness exercises you can do with your kiddos. I hope you can find some space between whatever situation you find yourself in and your reaction to it.
Be well! Erin