My name is Julia Malczynski and I am the Resident Support Facilitator of Independent Living here at Peace Village.  On Friday, June 30th, I was given the opportunity to share with residents one of my greatest passions; guided and mindfulness meditation. Not only was I blown away by the amount of residents who attended, but by the number of individuals who were willing to share their personal struggles with anxiety and depression. By residents discussing their personal experiences with stress-related situations, we as a group were able to create a safe and relaxing environment, one that gave residents the ability to recharge their body, mind, and spirit.

Before we began meditating as a group, I discussed the various items and their benefits which were displayed throughout the room, such as a water fountain, Himalayan salt lamp, candles, lavender, seashells, and healing stones.  Each resident was given a folder which provided residents with various articles on how to create a relaxing space in their home, develop and utilize coping techniques when feelings of anxiety or depression arise, such as deep breathing exercises, and the benefits of implementing meditation into our daily practice, including improving our memory and concentration.

Following this discussion, I gave an overview on what guided and mindfulness meditation are all about. I explained how guided meditation allows us to form mental images of places or situations that we find relaxing and how mindfulness meditation helps us in increasing our self-awareness of the present moment. Using one of my favorite meditation apps; Insight Timer, we completed “Melting Stress and Anxiety Away” and “For Today, Just Let Things Be”. Residents then discussed what images they formed, which some included water, a garden, the beach, and mountains. We also spent time scanning and describing how our bodies felt before, during, and after the mediation was finished. All residents had different experiences, some felt tired, while others felt less tensed and more relaxed. Each resident was given a meditation log for each day of the week which is helpful in identifying patterns, triggers, and what tools work when addressing various obstacles.

Before we ended our session together, I received valuable feedback from residents on what they did and did not like. The majority of residents had nothing but positive things to say, everyone seemed eager for me to continue to offer this practice on a monthly basis. This has been extremely helpful when planning our next group which is Friday, August 18th, from 2 to 3 pm.