Mindfulness Art for Brain Injury in Toronto

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The practice of mindfulness can be a rewarding but difficult thing. Some people find great soothing and calm by focusing on the present moment. It gets your mind off of thinking negative things about yourself or others or just thinking too much in general. It helps you get some perspective on a situation.

The datewith "Mindfulness at DP" written. A woman sits, looking content, on a short stool. She is watching an assembly line. There is a bucket near her feet labeled "Discarded Thoughts (a bit full up)". In the bucket are packages labeled fear, poison, etc. On the assembly line are a large suitcase labeled "flash backs", a tiny ball labeled "peace" and other packages.

For others, the present moment is too painful. The most soothing they can feel is to not dive too deeply in the present moment because the present is too awful or scary.

I think not everyone is talking about the same thing when they say “in the present moment.” After all, there are a lot of things happening in any present moment. So which are best to focus in on? It’s bound to be different for everyone and even for each person at different times.

The date is at the top, and "mindfulness?" is written below that. A painting showing a person with the top of her head opened. A green watering can pours water into her open head. She looks unhappy.

The folks at Mindfulness Art for Brain Injury at the Community Head Injury Resource Services of Toronto (CHIRS) have a format in place. They wrap breathing exercises, lessons in what mindfulness means, and meditation with an art class and journaling. The bottom of their Homepage shows some stamped gift tags made in class. Visit the Gallery to see close-up images of carvings the students with brain injury made. Those carvings became the stamps on the Homepage. So delicate and beautiful.

I don’t have the key to what mindfulness means. But I can tell you that my training in acting, my training as a speech therapist, and my own experience have shown me that breathing nice and slow and deep can help ease some mental, emotional and physical pain. It helps to practice when you’re in little to no pain so you can remember how to do it for when things feel bad.

Breathing deeply and focusing on beauty, healing, and compassion won’t simply erase stigma, discrimination, prejudice or inequity. It won’t change what a high number of people with brain injury live on the streets or in prisons. It won’t get you disability benefits or a job or make your friends quit scheduling events in inaccessible venues. But I do think deep breathing and some type of mindfulness support us so we can each make our tiny contribution to solving these social problems.