Mindfulness for Young Adult Parents I

Mindful father

By Manpreet Gill

Parenting at any stage in life is difficult. Adapting to new roles and responsibilities as a parent, working, and ensuring your child (or children) are growing up in a safe and nurturing environment can be very overwhelming and stressful. For young people especially, there are several specific stressors which are unique to their generation and age demographic (Kershaw, 2015). Young parents and adults today, are raising their kids in a tough economy where in order to keep the family afloat, both parents must be in the workforce (Kershaw, 2015).

Young families

In the case of single parent households, this becomes even more difficult as multiple jobs and countless hours are required in order to make a liveable income (Kershaw, 2015). The amount of stress associated with being a young parent can be very overwhelming and can impact your physical and mental wellbeing. In one study, 52% of young millennial parents reported experiencing such high levels of stress that they could not sleep well (Ray, 2013). Long term exposure to stress can also result in the development of chronic conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus (Reiner, Niermann, Jekauc, & Woll, 2013). In order to ensure that you can effectively manage your stress levels, for you and your children, there are certain practices you can begin to adopt into your day to day routine. These practices are structured around the concept of mindfulness, which “is the act of seeing things as they truly are in the present moment” (Hyland, Lee, & Mills, 2015, p. 578).

Mindful families

In western culture, the concept of mindfulness is derived from (or closely related to) traditional Buddhist mind training methods. As exemplified through a growing body of research, mindfulness has shown to have a number of physical and psychological benefits (Hyland et al., 2015). For these reasons, the practice of mindfulness has been incorporated in many different treatment regimes for anxiety, depression, and other mental health and physical issues. Here are some examples of how you can not only embrace, but incorporate the principles of mindfulness into your life in order to reduce stress:

Practicing Yoga


Practicing yoga has shown to have positive effects in young adults and parents (Gard et al., 2012). Yoga increase mindfulness, as it helps one pay attention to the purpose and present moment in a non-judgemental way (Gard et al., 2012). Yoga is not only restrictive to body positing/poses, but it also incorporates breathing exercises and meditation as well (Gard et al., 2012). In one study, researchers designed a yoga program for young adults who were experiencing high levels of stress (Gard et al., 2012). After the yoga course, participants reported lower levels of perceived stress, higher levels of life satisfaction and self-compassion. If you cannot attend a yoga class, there are some amazing online resources available to guide you as well! There are thousands of online videos which help guide you through each pose along with the steps to effective meditation.

Mindfulness based stress reduction

Mindful parents

Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) is a mindfulness training course which is designed to teach participants formal mindfulness practices (Khoury, Sharma, Rush, & Fournier, 2015). These practices are meant to teach people how to “observe situations and thoughts in a non-judgemental, non-reactive, and accepting manner” ” (Khoury et al., 2015). What these techniques do is challenge the existence of stressful thoughts and prevents them from having a negative impact on one’s life (Khoury et al., 2015). Practicing mindfulness in your day to day life affects the areas of the brain which are associated with how you feel, think, and pay attention (HealthLink BC, 2017). MBSR is taught through classes throughout the community, however there are also some online resources as well which provide some valuable information about how to develop and learn these stress management mindfulness techniques.

Here are some examples of how you can practice mindfulness:

Mindful Eating

When you are eating a meal, eat without any distractions in front of you such as your phone or television. Focus on the food that you have in front of you, and take slow bites enjoying the flavours of your food. Look at your food and observe the different textures and colours. (HealthLink BC, 2017).

Mindful Breathing

i. Go for a walk outside and take a moment to take a few deep breaths. Focus on your breathing, and observe the different sights, sounds, and smells around you. Feel the cold or the warmth of the weather outside. How does the temperature feel against your skin? (HealthLink BC, 2017).

Mindful Breathing

ii. Sit in a quiet spot alone where there are no distractions. Focus on your breathing and listen to the sounds around you. If there is a window, gaze outside and look at everything. Observe the clouds in the sky, the plants along the sidewalk etc. Focus on how your body feels and the different sensations you are experiencing (HealthLink BC, 2017).

Mindful Journaling

Journaling your experience in a “mindfulness journal” is also a great strategy to write down your thoughts and feelings. Completing an entry at the beginning or end of the day can help to gather your thoughts. Having this outlet available also helps to instill calmness and clarity in your routine as well.

Mindful Journaling

Mindfulness for Young Parents Video

Video created by 
Manpreet Gill
1:41 mins, November 2018
In Adobe Spark Video

Access these Online Resources

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

Lotus Blue

This is an online resource available to anyone who is interested in learning about how to use mindfulness techniques to reduce stress. It is created by a certified MBSR instructor who has created different modules with corresponding videos to help aide in the learning process. This resource allows you to access a MBSR class anywhere, anytime, and for free.

URL:: https://palousemindfulness.com/index.html

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Locator

Lotus Blue

If you prefer to learn MBSR techniques in person, the following website by the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society has an instructor locator tool. This tool allows you to type in your location in order to find the closest, certified mindfulness instructor to you.

URL: https://umassmed.edu/cfm/mindfulness-based-programs/mbsr-courses/find-an-mbsr-program/

The Centre for Mindfulness Studies

Lotus Blue

The Centre for Mindfulness Studies provides a number of great free audio-guided meditations. It is a great way to start your journey of learning to be mindful and how to meditate.

URL: https://www.mindfulnessstudies.com/

Youtube Yoga Videos

Lotus Blue

There are thousands of online videos available which outline different yoga poses. Many also have calming music accompanying them to help with meditation as well.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=yoga+mindfulness

Yoga Journal

Lotus Blue

The following website is a great resource to learn more about yoga and its implication with improving mindfulness. A number of different poses with illustrations and instruction are included as well.

URL: https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/peace-of-mind


Gard, T., Brach, N., Hölzel, B. K., Noggle, J. J., Conboy, L. A., & Lazar, S. W. (2012). Effects of a yoga-based intervention for young adults on quality of life and perceived stress: the potential mediating roles of mindfulness and self-compassion. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 7(3), 165-175.

HealthLink BC. (2017, December 7). Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Retrieved from https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/abl0293

Hyland, P. K., Lee, R. A., & Mills, M. J. (2015). Mindfulness at work: A new approach to improving individual and organizational performance. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 8(4), 576-602.

Kershaw, P. (2015). Population Aging, Generational Equity & the Middle Class. Generation Squeeze.

Khoury, B., Sharma, M., Rush, S. E., & Fournier, C. (2015). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for healthy individuals: a meta-analysis. Journal of psychosomatic research, 78(6), 519-528.

Ray, J. A. (2013). Family Connections: Today’s young families: Successful strategies for engaging millennial parents. Childhood Education, 89(5), 332-334.

Reiner, M., Niermann, C., Jekauc, D., & Woll, A. (2013). Long-term health benefits of physical activity–a systematic review of longitudinal studies. BMC public health, 13(1), 813.

Mindfulness for Young Adult Parents II

Mindful mother

By Amy Li

Mindfulness refers to the awareness of the present moment, and the focus of one’s attention to their thoughts, emotions, and body sensations. The goal of mindfulness is to help promote mental well-being, as studies have shown that practicing mindfulness can result in lower depression and anxiety levels (CHEO, 2018a). Given that depression and anxiety are relatively common conditions in the population, it means that because these diagnoses don’t go away even when starting your own family, then one should be additionally aware of how to use mindfulness in their day to day lives for both their own benefit, as well as the benefit of their children. The goal of mindful parenting relates to not just being aware of your own thoughts and patterns, but also being able to provide your full attention to your child/teenager, typically by listening to and observing your child’s viewpoint, and accepting who you and your child are as individuals.

Mindful dad

For those parents who are still relatively young themselves, specifically those in the age range from 19 to 35, there will be certain challenges that are faced, different from those who are in an older life stage when they have their children. There is evidence that adolescent (<20 years old) parents already face additional obstacles and barriers to parenthood as it is, compared to those who first have children when
they’re older (Thompson, 2016). Common challenges faced by young parents between the ages of 19 to 35 include juggling the transition to adulthood from their own adolescence, which could involve living on their own for the first time away from their parents, and taking on responsibilities of life such as cooking, cleaning, and commuting for themselves. At the same time, there may also be the need to postpone one’s post-secondary education or take a break from work and occupational development/advancement, due to the demands of parenthood.

Mindful family

Regardless of the barriers that one might face as a young parent, the process for managing these stressors and other obstacles are similar to what other parents might use as a mindfulness technique.

Some mindfulness exercises that can be tried on your own, with your partner, or ideally with the whole family including the kids, are described below.

Family Yoga

Choose a 30-minute period of time where you don’t expect any particular interruptions and find a space without any screens around (e.g. TV, computer, phone). Put down a yoga mat or perform the exercises on a carpet. Put some relaxing music on, and a scented candle if you have one. With your family member (this could be your partner, your child, or all of the family), initiate yoga positions and stretches together. This might involve using each other as supports, for example, as seen by the poses here.


As you perform each pose, focus on your breathing, and on the muscle tension in each muscle group being stretched relaxing and elongating along the the fibers. At the end of the yoga session, thank your partner for performing this exercise with you, and hug/kiss them.

Breathing Buddy

Choose a 10-minute period of time where you don’t expect any particular interruptions and find a space without any screens around (e.g. TV, computer, phone). Grab one of your child’s stuffed animals to be your breathing buddy to use to demonstrate to others. Every participant should have a stuffed animal or other doll with them to breathe with.

Mindful Parenting

Everyone lies down and “sits” their breathing buddy on their tummy. The goal is to have the breathing buddy rise and fall gently with each breath cycle. Remind yourself and others that the focus is to breathe slowly and steadily so that the stuffed animal looks like it’s riding a carousel, and to ensure that the stuffed animal doesn’t ever fall off. This tool can be used to teach children awareness of their breathing cycle, control over their breathing pace, and encourages them to remain focused on the breathing task, thus they shouldn’t be thinking about whatever was inducing stress for them before.

“Detective W”

This game can be played with your children to help them identify feelings and understand them better. Similarly, in yourself, the goal is to also develop better awareness of your emotions, and the underlying reasons for them. When used in response to a particular emotion, one should ask their children/themselves the following:

Detective W

WHAT do you feel right now?

Feelings and emotions, such as happiness, sadness, anger, jealousy, boredom, etc.

WHO do you feel it about?

Yourself, a parent, a sibling, a child, an inanimate object that caused bodily injury, etc.

WHERE do you feel it in your body?

In the chest, in the tummy, in the head, in the muscles, in the throat, etc.

WHEN did you start feeling this?
WHEN did it stop?

When the event happened, when a parent yelled, when a child screamed, when I fell asleep, when I was playing, When I was working, etc.

WHY are you feeling this way?

Identify root cause for emotions, and check if it’s a fair reason, or if there are other factors involved. Can you let it go?

There are a multitude of other mindfulness skills, techniques, and tools out there in various forms, to be learned and explored, each with their own individual benefits tailored to specific situations. It is highly encouraged that all young parents explore these resources themselves, to find the best fit. There are also some mobile apps such as Headspace and Mindshift, which discusses mindfulness and guides you through strategies as well.

Mindful father

Regardless of the approach, it is always important to remember that reflection is a useful skill that forms the basis for mindfulness, but that it isn’t always easy to develop or adapt right off the bat.
Trained individuals such as counselors can help with this process, but there could be limitations of available time and finances. Regular routine application and development of skills will also go a long way towards benefiting one’s future mindfulness capacity, so it’s highly encouraged to get out there and practice these strategies every day! Best of luck!

Mindfulness Technique Video – Box breathing

It can be difficult to feel relaxed during the day when you’re under stress, and often you’ll find yourself feeling tense and your mind racing as a result. Some ways to release this tension include the practice of mindfulness techniques, such as box breathing, which you will learn how to perform in this video.

Video created by Amy Li
2:04 mins, November 2018

Box breathing is a strategy to help clear your mind by focusing solely on your breathing. The basic concept is to take slow deep inhales and exhales, sustaining your breathing for 4 seconds in between each action, while envisioning a box. For example, breathe in slowly through your nose, filling your lungs and abdomen with air, as you rise up the side of the box. At the top of the box, sustain your breath for 4 more seconds at maximum inflation, before slowly exhaling down the side of the box for 4 seconds. At the bottom of the box, sustain your breath for 4 seconds at maximum exhalation, before returning to the start. Repeat this for as long as you need to, focusing on the box. Remember that sustaining a breath isn’t the same as holding it, as we’re not trying to “squeeze” or “bear down”, which closes off the airway. Instead, we’re just slowing the end of the in and out part of the breath.

Mindful family

Start with a few minutes a day, until you get the hang of this technique. Once you become skilled at it, then you can use it whenever and wherever you’d like, such as on the commute, or while lying in bed to help with falling asleep at night.

Mindful Parenting Resources

Mindfulness 201: Bringing mindfulness to parenting

Lotus Blue

A short fact sheet regarding mindfulness and how parents can use it to improve their own functioning, facilitate better understanding of the development and emotions of their child, and to improve the parent- child dynamic. The website is put together by CHEO, which is the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

URL: http://www.cheo.on.ca/en/Mindfulness-Parenting

Raising the Mindful Family

Lotus Blue

A resource compiled by Mindful, a non-profit dedicated to promoting mindfulness. This page provides details on several mindfulness considerations that form part of everyday family life, as well as provides examples of mindfulness exercises to try out.

URL: https://www.mindful.org/raising-the-mindful-family/

11 Tips for Mindful Parenting

Lotus Blue

A Quebec chain of clinics called MindSpace Clinics provides care to those in need of cognitive-behavioural therapy, mindfulness, and other psychology techniques. They also maintain a blog with various posts and articles, which informed the tips provided on this page.

URL: http://mindspaceclinic.com/11-tips-mindful-parenting/

The Best Meditation Apps for Parents

Lotus Blue

A reference page that compiles suggestions for meditation apps that can be used by parents during the process of mindfulness. Most smartphones running either the Apple or the Android platform should have access to these apps in their respective online App stores. The portability of these apps make it easier to reference on the go for busy parents who are caring for children that keep them even busier.

URL: https://www.activekids.com/parenting-and-family/articles/the-best- meditation-apps-for-parents/

Mindfulness-Based (MBCT) Support Groups in British Columbia

Lotus Blue

Searchable directory of support groups, counselors, and workshops using the Psychology Today website. Search conducted for BC-based groups, refined in the search criteria to be “Mindfulness-based (MBCT)”. Despite all the best online resources one might find, there isn’t anything that can replace face- to-face interaction and counseling from a trained individual.

URL: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/groups/mindfulness-based- mbct/british-columbia?sid=1543399133.2033_20538


CHEO, 2018a. Mindfulness 101: The Basics. Retrieved from http://www.cheo.on.ca/en/Mindfulness

CHEO, 2018b. Mindfulness 201: Bringing mindfulness to parenting. Retrieved from http://www.cheo.on.ca/en/Mindfulness-Parenting

Thompson, G. (2016). Meeting the needs of adolescent parents and their children. Paediatric Child Health, 21 (5): 273.

Mindfulness for Older Adults

Mindful Older Adults

By Cassidy Wald

What is Mindfulness?


There is no single correct definition of what mindfulness is. Being mindful is a psychological process of bringing your attention to what you are thinking and feeling in the present moment in an open, non-judgemental way. “Mindfulness is both a process and an outcome” (Programs for Mindful Living, 2015, page 4, para. 4). Learning to be mindful happens by engaging in exercises and practices that focus on being mindful. Therefore, to learn it, you must do it. This is generally achieved by engaging in a regular meditation process, or through yoga, deep breathing exercises, or other mindful techniques.

Mindful Older Couple

Various cultures and groups from across the world have used multiple forms of mindfulness for thousands of years. Mindfulness is a mental state that focuses on bringing yourself into the present moment and having an awareness and acceptance of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. This process is highly therapeutic for many people.

Mindful practice may feel unusual or strange if you have never done it before. However, the more you practice mindfulness through various techniques or exercises, the easier and more intuitive it will become.

How Can it Benefit Older Adults?

Mindful Senior

In recent years, there has been a growing body of research focusing on mindfulness practices and their benefits on physical and mental health. There is a great deal of research that indicates that mindfulness can be beneficial for almost any group of people, including children, teens, adults, seniors, and even sub-groups such as medical students and prison populations (Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt & Walach, 2004). Many of the benefits of mindfulness can positively impact individuals experiencing a variety of conditions that are common in older adults, such as pain, stress, memory loss, and sleep difficulties. Just a few studies looking at the effects of mindfulness on these types of conditions are described below:

Mindful Older man

Morone, Greco & Weiner (2008) studied a group of participants aged 65+ who experienced chronic lower back pain. They compared two groups: one who participated in approximately 30 minutes of meditation per day, 4 days a week, for 8 weeks; and a group who did not. Reported pain scores were significantly lower in the group who participated in mindfulness meditation compared with those who did not.

A similar study by Black, O’Reilly, Olmstead, Breen & Irwin (2015) focused on the effect of mindfulness meditation on a group of older adults who reported moderate sleep disturbances. The group who participated in 2 hours of mindful mediation per week for 6 weeks showed significant improvement in insomnia symptoms, depression symptoms, and fatigue compared with the group who did not mediate.

Mindful grandfather

Grossman et al. (2004) conduced a meta-analysis on the benefits of mindfulness techniques. A meta-analysis looks at many different research studies on a particular topic and looks for overall trends in the research findings. They found evidence that meditation and mindfulness practices resulted in benefits for people experiencing a wide range of conditions such as chronic pain, cancer, anxiety, stress depression, and heart disease.

Mindfulness is also beneficial as it is free, easily accessible to almost anyone, and has no side effects.

Mindful Exercises

Here are two short mindfulness exercises you can try:

1) Mini-Mindfulness Body Scan Break

Body Scan

Find a comfortable position such as sitting back in a chair or lying down. Turn off any distractions such as bright lights, televisions, or electronics. Take a deep breath, hold it for a moment, and exhale fully. Continue with a deep, slow breathing pattern throughout this exercise. Close your eyes if you wish.

Take this moment to put your “auto pilot” on pause. Focus only on what you are physically feeing in your body at this moment. If thoughts come up, acknowledge them without judgement, and let them pass.

Beginning at the top of your head, focus your energy on one part of your body at a time. Notice any sensations you feel in this part of your body; any tension, pain, tightness, or other feelings. Release any pain or tension. Next, move to your forehead, eyes, and face. Notice any sensations, and allow any pain or tension to melt away. Slowly continue to move down to the rest of the parts of your body one at a time, until you have scanned your whole body.

What did you notice? How did you feel before, during, and after this exercise? You may wish to write about your experience in a journal.

2) Mindful Eating Exercise

Sit down at a table where you won’t be disturbed. Turn off any distracting noises or lights. Choose any food (but one with an interesting taste, texture, or smell is best). A raisin or a cracker are some ideas you can try. Take a long, deep, cleansing breath.

Mindful Eating

Look at the food in front of you as though you are seeing it for the first time. Notice the colour, how it feels when you touch it, it’s size, and how it smells. Imagine the journey this piece of food has been on to get to your table today. It may have begun as a seed, where it was watered, absorbed sunshine, grew, was cultivated, picked, processed, and transported.

Take a bite of the food. Notice the flavour and texture inside your mouth. Slowly chew it, noticing how the texture changes and moves down your throat and into your stomach. Connect again to your body and notice any sensations you feel. You may wish to write about your experience in your journal.

Mindful couple

These are just two examples of mindful exercises that you can try. There is a wide variety of other information and resources available on this topic, including information specifically for beginners. There are many books and websites about the topic, as well as many free guided meditations available on video-sharing platforms like YouTube.

Guided Mindfulness Meditation Video

Video created by 
Cassidy Wald
3 mins, November 2018
In Adobe Spark Video

Mindful Older Adult Resources

Mindfulness for Seniors

Lotus Blue

This website is primarily aimed at seniors. It supplies information about what mindfulness is, and the physical and mental benefits is can have. It includes a link to an online course called MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction). It is organized into eight modules: 1 – There is More Right with Us; 2 – Perception and Creative Responding, 3 – The Power and Pleasure of Being Present; 4 – The Shadow Of Stress; 5 – Finding Space to Make Choices; 6 – Working with Difficulties; 7 – Cultivating Self-Kindness; and 8 – The Rest of Your Life. The modules include written information, audio clips, videos, yoga, and guided meditations. Some of the content is free, and some is accessed via an online subscription fee. The site also has a free email subscription list that users can join in order to regularly receive additional information and resources.

URL: http://www.mindfulnessforseniors.com/

Positive Psychology Program

Lotus Blue

This website, aimed at adults, contains 22 different mindfulness-based exercises, techniques, and activities. These include activities that can be done as a group (aimed at reducing feelings of social anxiety), mindfulness for beginners, a guided body-scan exercise, a “mindful seeing” exercise (visual mindfulness), a “mindful listening” exercise, worksheets focusing on topics such as self-compassion and self-inquiry, breathing exercises, and an introduction to Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It also includes mindful approaches to dealing with strong emotions and behaviors such as anger, addiction, anxiety, and depression. All of these resources are free.

URL: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/mindfulness-exercises-techniques-activities/

US News: Benefits of Meditation for Older Adults

Lotus Blue

This link is to an informational article that serves as a good resource for someone who may be new to the concept of mindfulness and related exercises such as meditation. It focuses specifically on the practice of meditation, and discusses what it is, how research indicates it can specifically benefit older adults
(in areas such as memory, cognition, digestion and circulation, stress, and loneliness), and offers suggestions and links for how someone new to the practice can get started. There is also a link to a guide on how to safely practice yoga if you suffer from arthritis or other chronic conditions.

URL: https://health.usnews.com/wellness/aging-well/articles/2018-06-22/the-many-benefits-of-meditation-for-older-adults

Health Link BC: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Lotus Blue

Health Link BC is an extremely reputable and trusted health information resource created by the Government of British Columbia. Users can access information on a huge array of medical conditions and topics for free, 24/7. They can also call 8-1-1 anytime of the day or night to be connected to a Registered Nurse. The site offers a health information page on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, as well as Mind-Body Wellness. This is a great site for older adults to be aware of and connect to, both for mindfulness information, and to serve as a highly reputable and accessible resource for general health and wellness.

URL: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/abl0293

Programs for Mindful Living – Mindfulness and the Elderly

Lotus Blue

This is a very comprehensive resource that provides an overview of mindfulness focusing on older adults. It is aimed at both older adults, and their caregivers (if applicable). It provides information on what mindfulness is and ways it can benefit older adults (as well as older adults from specific sub-groups such as those in a palliative care setting and those with memory problems or dementia). It provides research-based information, as well as proper referencing for the sources of their information. They also discuss a variety of courses, books, websites, and research and practice centres where more information can be found.

URL: https://www.programsformindfulliving.org/uploads/7/1/8/0/71807795/mindfulness_and_the_elderly.pdf


Black, D., O’Reilly, G., Olmstead, R., Breen, E., & Irwin, M. (2015). Mindfulness Meditation and Improvement in Sleep Quality and Daytime Impairment Among Older Adults with Sleep Disturbances: A Randomized Clinical Trial, JAMA Internal Medicine, 175 (4), pp. 494 – 501. 

Grossman, P., Niemann, L., Schmidt, S., & Walach, H. (2004). Mindfulness-based stress reduction and health benefits: A meta-analysis, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Vol. 57, Issue 1, pp. 35 – 43. 

Morone, N., Greco, C., & Weiner, D. (2008). Mindfulness Meditation for the Treatment of Chronic Lower Back Pain in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study, Pain, Vol. 134, Issue 3, pp. 310 – 319. 

Programs for Mindful Living (2015). Mindfulness and the Elderly: An Overview for the Elderly and their Caregivers, retrieved from https://www.programsformindfulliving.org/uploads/7/1/8/0/71807795/mindfulness_and_the_elderly.pdf

Mindfulness for Elderly Adults

Mindful Elderly

By Alexander Thi and Aimmey Chu

Mindfulness: Meditation, Yoga and Breathing

Be Mindful

The world’s population is aging with more elderly people living longer than ever before, which contributes to our increasing population. Mindfulness has become popular because its meditative style has a distinctive method of treating and channeling emotions. Many of our elderly population, age 70 and older, reflect and verbalize anxiety about their own life changes. Furthermore, physical frailty, chronic pain, and stress often diminish quality of life in the elderly. The elderly struggle with feelings of helplessness and discomfort in the presence of illness and despair. Mindfulness may help the elderly successfully manage the physical and psychological challenges of aging that reduce distress and promote vitality (Young & Bairne, 2010).

Mindful Elderly

The definition of mindfulness is focusing and being aware of the present moment. Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) is a mindfulness intervention model used to help elderly adults with a variety of conditions to improve their health and quality of life. Mind-body techniques like mindfulness meditation and mindful yoga have been used as treatment for late-life anxiety disorders and depression because of their potential to reduce worry and ameliorate cognitive dysfunction in the elderly (Lenze et al., 2014). Many elderly worry about their health, their finances, and their children. A growing number of studies have identified many beneficial physiological and psychological outcomes from regular practice of mindfulness. There are several mindfulness exercises the elderly can do to help reduce stress, anxiety, and enhance resilience. Additionally, mindfulness meditation is practiced to treat other medical conditions globally and culturally. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggested when the elderly practice mindfulness meditation, they experience improved longevity. Thus, meditation may improve longevity by preventing cellular aging (Cresswell et al., 2012). Mindfulness techniques include mindfulness meditation, mindful yoga, and mindful breathing.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness mediation is the first strategy for mindfulness. Mediation plays a big role in calming the body and mind. Mindfulness meditation is a technique you can use to remain in a focused and nonjudgmental state, being in the present moment that can be used as an alternative to dwelling on the future (Lenze et al., 2014). Mindfulness meditation requires an individual to sit or lie down, relax and pay little attention to their own thoughts as they drift in and out of their mind. When the individual is meditating, their respiratory, heart rate, blood pressure decreases and slows down. As a result, the individual may feel body tension be lifted away, which helps decrease stress and improve their digestive functionality (Lenze et al., 2014). Mindfulness meditation reduces distraction and loss of focus and increases concentration (Keller, Singh & Winton, 2014).

Mindful Prayer

According to Creswell et al. (2012) meditation can be taught to seniors with dementia, which can help reduce the effects of social isolation. Loneliness and emotional stress can negatively contribute to an individual’s physical health.  There are studies that indicated that loneliness can lead to increased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and even premature death. However, a research study of 40 seniors found that mindfulness meditation helped them tackle loneliness by feeling more connected to themselves, their families and the world around them. The elderly in this study practiced mindful mediation for 30 minutes a day for eight weeks which significantly reduced rates of loneliness and anxiety (Creswell, 2012).


Mindful Yoga

Yoga is an effective complementary approach to health maintenance and health promotion for the elderly. Yoga can be practiced to support an individual’s psychological wellbeing and reduce everyday stress and anxiety. Mindful yoga is a mind-body discipline that has a positive impact on psychological and functional health. Yoga interventions have beneficial factors that treat a variety of medical conditions like hypertension, asthma, multiple sclerosis, back pain, and neck pain (Carson, Carson, Olsen, Sanders & Porter, 2017).  Mindful yoga is well known to increase psychological well-being and reduce stress. Yoga can increase an individual’s flexibility, improve balance, and strengthen muscle tone.

Mindful Yoga

Yoga may be useful for restoring an individual’s sense of control when he or she is confronted with an anxiety-inducing trigger (Bonura, 2011). During mindful yoga practice, one is encouraged to focus on breathing sensations and rhythm coupled with mindful movement. Through the practice of mindful yoga, the elderly can learn how to cultivate self-control, improve psychological health, and self-efficacy for everyday life. For example, a study found that elderly adults who practice yoga are more likely to increase their quality of life by practicing healthy eating, staying on their medication schedule, getting enough hours of sleep, maintaining good hygiene, and completing other self-care activities (Bonura, 2011).

Mindful Breathing

Some studies have indicated that when participants can successfully use mindful breathing it decreases levels of stress (Lenze et al., 2014). Mindful breathing emphasizes focusing on the inhalation and exhalation of breath when the mind begins to wander. Mindful breathing can also reduce or diminish negative emotions that are related to anxiety.  In mindful breathing exercises, directions are given to concentrate on breathing and focusing on the sensation of the present moment. This includes being aware of the sensation and rhythm of each breath. When mindful breathing is practiced at least 15 minutes a day, the individual can advance in their breathing, which can increase their wellbeing and self-awareness.

Mindful Breathing

The most basic way to perform mindful breathing is to focus the attention on one’s inhalation and exhalation of breath. This can simply be done by standing, sitting, or lying in a comfortable position. The individual’s eyes can be open or closed, but it may be easier to maintain focus if the eyes are closed. It is recommended to take a large exaggerated breath by deeply inhaling through the nostrils, hold the breath for three seconds or so, and exhale through the mouth for four seconds. Focus your attention on the rise and fall of your chest, and the inhalation and exhalation of each breath.

View Our Mindfulness Meditation Video

Video created by 
Aimmey Chu & Alexander Thi
2 mins, November 2018

Mindfulness Resources

30 minute Mindful Yoga Practice Video

This mindful yoga video helps you to tone your mind and body.

Yoga for Mindfulness Video

This video shows you how to practice yoga to rebalance your mind.

Mindful Meditation Video

This guided mindful meditation helps you to achieve calmness and peace.

Mindful Breathing Video

Mindful breathing helps you to learn to focus on your breathing and calm your mind.

Mindful Meditation Timer Pro

Lotus Blue

This app can help the elderly focus on mediation without thinking about the time. No matter if you are going to join meditators, a beginner or practice meditation for a long time, Meditation Timer Pro can help you do it better. Available from iTunes.

URL: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/meditation-timer-pro/id509073019?mt=8

Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction

Lotus Blue

This resource from HealthLink BC introduces you to the Mindfulness- based stress reduction technique which helps you tol learn to calm your mind and body even during stressful times

URL: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/abl0293

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Programs

Lotus Blue

This site also introduces Mindfulness- based reduction programs to assist people in achieving mindfulness practice and awareness in daily life.

URL: http://www.mbsrbc.ca

Meditation for Seniors

Lotus Blue

This site offers Mindful meditations especially designed for seniors to being using mindfulness of the breath as a foundation.

URL: https://mindworks.org/meditation-knowledge/meditation-for-seniors/

The Mindfulness App

Lotus Blue

This meditation app is perfect for the elderly as it includes a five- day guided mediation practice.

URL: https://themindfulnessapp.com/

Calm App

Lotus Blue

Calm app offers a wide variety of guided mindful meditation to assist people to add more relaxation in their lives.

URL: https://www.calm.com/


Bonura, K. (2011). The psychological benefits of yoga practice for older adults: evidence and guidelines. International journal of yoga therapy, 21, 129-42.

Carson, J., Carson, K., Olsen, M., Sanders, L., & Porter, L. (2017). Mindful yoga for women with metastatic breast cancer. Complementary and Alternative Medicine,17(1). 

Clinton, V., Swenseth, M., & Carlson, S. (2018). Do mindful breathing exercises benefit reading comprehension: a brief report.  Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, 2(3), 305- 310.

Creswell, J., Irwin, M., Burklund, L., Lieberman, M., Arevalo, J., & Cole, S. (2012).  Mindfulness- based stress reduction training reduces loneliness and pro-inflammatory gene expression in older adults. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 26(7), 1095-101. doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2012.07.006

Keller, B., Singh, N., & Winton, A. (2014). Mindfulness- based cognitive approach for seniors  (MBCAS): Program development and implementation. Mindfulness, 5(4).  doi:10.1007/s12671-013-0262-2

Lenze, E., Hickman, S., Hershey, T., Wendleton, L., Ly, K., Wetherell, J. (2014). Mindfulness-  based stress reduction for older adults with worry symptoms and co- occurring cognitive  dysfunction.International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 29(10), 991- 1000. doi:  10.1002/gps.4086

Moore, N., & Greco, C. (2014). Adapting mindfulness for the older adult. Mindfulness, 5(5), 610- 612. doi:10.1007/s12671-014-0297

Young, L., & Bairne, M. (2010). Mindfulness- based stress reduction: effect on emotional  distress in older adults. Journal of Evidence- Based integrative Medicine, 15(2) 59-64. doi: 10.1177/153321011038


Mindfulness for a Good Death I

Mindful death

by Chelsea Reimer 

Mindfulness in Dying: A Guide for Individuals and Families

As much as it may pain us to think of it, dying happens to every one of us. Contemplating death, our own or of those that we love, can bring up intense emotions. These feelings may be so powerful and overwhelming that we turn away from them. Perhaps, you were taught from a very young age that talking about death was taboo, or you feel as if the topic of death is simply too morbid or depressing to bring up with your loved ones. You are not alone – these feelings are very common within our culture.

A good death

So why are we so afraid to think about death? What if, by exploring some of the big questions as death nears, we could create space for the feelings that arise? What can we learn about ourselves and our relationships with those we love? We encourage you to use this guide to explore your own feelings about death and dying and to help discover what it means for you to have a good death.

What is mindfulness?

The word mindfulness is an English translation of the Pali word sati, a word that signifies awareness and attention. Pali was the language of Buddhist philosophy over 2500 years ago, and mindfulness is the core teaching of this tradition

(Germer, Siegel, & Fulton, 2013).

Mindfulness is a way of focusing our attention on the task at hand. It is a skill that allows us to be less reactive to what is happening in the moment. The goal is to direct your attention to your experience entirely in the moment, without judgement and without thoughts of the past or future.


Practicing mindfulness requires no specialized training or equipment, only the willingness to try. A mindful moment can be as simple as taking a moment to disengage from the activity at hand, taking a deep breath, and gathering your attention.

“Mindfulness can be defined as gently refocusing attention on what is happening in the present moment with a receptive, open attitude”

(Kashdan, 2011).

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Research shows us that practicing mindfulness can have profound effects on improving quality of life and managing symptoms of illness or chronic pain. Mindfulness can reduce pain, tension and stress, it can increase joy and well-being, and it can improve the quality of interpersonal relationships (Kriegel, 2017; Niemiec et al., 2010; Schriener & Malcolm, 2008).

What does mindfulness have to do with dying?

“For someone who is dying, the past can be too complicated to contemplate, and the future is jarringly unknown. Focusing on the present… is where the potential for living most meaningfully – even while dying – exists”

(Martin, 2015).

Thoughts of death and dying, when unwanted or unwelcome, can be intrusive and distracting. Harnessing the practice of mindfulness in order to remain present in the moment is a powerful way to live every moment as wholly as possible. Mindfulness is a way to live our lives fully, all the way to the end.

Mindful death

When we begin to think about our own death, it is common to become caught up in regrets from the past, or concerns about the future. Mindful reflection and guided meditation are tools that can be used to focus on the experience at hand.

Mindfulness exercises are designed to slow us down and lead us to heightened sensitivity. Mindfulness may be a tool that gives you the freedom to explore what it means for you to have a good death. Perhaps there are specific rituals, ceremonies, or practices that are meaningful for you. Sharing these insights with your loved ones can help them to hold space for you in the ways that matter most. You have the power to shape your final moments.

“Death is not just happening to us at the end of a long road. It’s always with us. It’s in the marrow of every passing moment. I call it ‘the secret teacher that’s hiding in plain sight’ that helps us to discover what really matters most”

(Ostaseki, 2018).

Try this: Mindfulness Practice in the Shower

Adapted from Nancy O’Hara & David Gelles (2017)


A shower can be the perfect opportunity to try a mindfulness exercise for the first time. The quiet, secluded space is an ideal location for removing the distractions of day-to-day-life.

Start with removing all unnecessary distractions from the space. Leave any electronic devices in another room, far enough away so they cannot be heard.

Bring to your mind the idea that you are about to cleanse yourself as part of caring for your body and your mind. 

Take a moment to be grateful for your access to warm water and clean towels.

Notice – do your thoughts turn to dwelling on the past or planning for the future? If so, do not judge yourself, merely bring your attention back to your awareness.

As the water touches your body, focus on this sensation. As you handle the soap, bring it to your nose and inhale its scent. 

Wash your body slowly and methodically, staying present while focusing on the feelings of touch and smell.

When you turn off the water, take a long, deep breath before exiting the shower. 

Bring your awareness directly to the moment at hand and thank yourself for taking time to practice this exercise for your health and well-being.

When the exercise is complete, notice if you feel any new sensations. Perhaps you feel calmer, more grounded, or less anxious. Perhaps you are surprised at how intrusive your thoughts can be! These are all normal observations. 

Try this: Mindfulness in Journaling

Mindful journaling

This may be a highly emotional process. We warn you only so that you give this exercise the space and time that it deserves and encourage you to reach out to others around you if you want to continue to process your feelings after you try this exercise.

Set aside a few minutes to sit in solitude with a pen and paper, removing as many distractions as possible. Leave electronic devices in another room, far enough away that they cannot be heard.

You may want to set yourself a timer, but you may enjoy letting your mind travel as far as it likes. The decision is yours.

Before you put pen to paper, take three long, deep breaths. Focus on being present in the moment, allowing your mind to let go of other distractions.

In your mind, imagine your death. What feelings come up for you? 

Pick up your pen and begin to write. No one but you need ever read what is written – let your pen flow with your thoughts, avoiding self-judgement and criticism. This is an exercise in mindful exploration.

If you wish to push even deeper, consider the following prompts:

  • What does it mean to you to have a good death?
  • Where would you like to be when you die?
  • Who do you envision nearby?

When you are done, put down your pen, and without reading what you have written, take a moment to ground yourself in the present moment. Five deep, long breaths will help bring your awareness back to your body. Notice what feelings, emotions, and sensations have come up in your body and awareness during this exercise.

You may return to your writings at a later time, but it is not a requirement of the exercise. 

If this was beneficial or informative for you, you may like to integrate journaling into your daily or weekly routine.

Mindful Families Grounding Exercise: The Hug

Video created by 
Chelsea Reimer
1:23 mins, November 2018

Resources for a Good Death

The following resources have been compiled to help you and your loved ones explore the uses of mindfulness as you prepare for your death, or the death of a loved one. Mindfulness is described by psychology researcher Todd Kashdan (2011) as “being open, receptive, and attentive to whatever is unfolding in the present moment” and has emerged as a powerful tool for self-reflection in preparation for dying. Although there are countless many other books, techniques, and experts that speak to the topic of mindfulness, these resources have been specifically chosen for their relevance in preparing for a death. The selected resources include written works, audio recordings, video presentations, and contact information for external organizations, in order to appeal to a broad range of learning preferences and styles.

10-Minute Guided Meditation on Death and Impermanence

Lotus Blue

This guided meditation, led by Bernadette Keogh, allows the participant to contemplate death from the Buddhist perspective. Many people find that guided meditation allows them to make space for the difficult emotions and bodily sensations that arise when thinking about death. You need no special training or equipment to try guided meditation – a quiet space and a few minutes of uninterrupted time is all that is required. Research demonstrates that mindful meditation is useful in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress (Schreiner & Malcolm, 2008), helping us to free up valuable mental energy. This meditation can be downloaded or streamed on any Internet-connected device.

URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWLB-jKOtvU

“Advice for Future Corpses (and Those Who Love Them): A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying” by Sallie Tisdale

Lotus Blue

Written by Buddhist practitioner, nurse, and end-of-life educator Sallie Tisdale, this book of essays is designed to help you prepare for your own death as well as the death of those closest to you. Described as a “travel guide to the end of life” (Scarles, 2018), this book has been widely praised for its authentic, fearless voice. Four appendices are included for those readers seeking advice on the practical tasks of preparing for death, including drafting a death plan, preparing advance directives, planning organ and tissue donation, and exploring the topic of assisted death. Tisdale blends empathetic understanding, spiritual guidance, and practical considerations, woven in with stories from her many years of experience as a registered nurse.

URL: http://www.simonandschuster.ca/books/Advice-for-Future-Corpses-(and-Those-Who-Love-Them)/Sallie-Tisdale/9781501182174

Meditations for Sick and Dying People: Helping the Dying

Lotus Blue

This article features meditation techniques and visualizations specifically tailored for those dying and those in pain and includes links to guided meditations for those who prefer audio recordings. This article is specifically helpful for those who are comforting their dying loved ones, as it offers step-by-step strategies for compassionate caregivers to help a dying person die with as calm and positive a mindset as possible. Simple, beginner-friendly breathing techniques are also offered, with additional tips for providing therapeutic touch and massage.

URL: https://www.thewayofmeditation.com.au/blog/meditations-for-sick-and-dying-people/

End of Life Doula Association of Canada

Lotus Blue

Just as birth doulas support parents during the labour process, death doulas support individuals through the process of dying in a way that is specific to the individual’s needs, beliefs and desires. Death doulas, alternately referred to as death coaches or death guides, can facilitate conversations, organize ceremonies and rituals, and help prepare bodies for burial or cremation. In previous years, death doulas were referred to as “death midwives”, but the term “midwife” is now protected by the College of Midwives of BC as a licensed term for healthcare providers offering maternity care. The services of death doulas are private (e.g.: not covered by Medical Services Premiums), but as with birth doulas, there may be sliding-scale options available for lower-income individuals. The End of Life Doula Association of Canada maintains a referral service and membership roster, and all of their doulas have been trained by a recognized end of life care program and have provided the Association with a recent criminal record check.

URL: https://endoflifedoulaassociation.org/

“Who Dies: An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying” by Stephen & Ondrea Levine

Lotus Blue

Described as “the first book to show the reader how to open up to the immensity of living with death” (Penguin Random House, n.d.), this book was released in 1989 and continues to be considered a groundbreaking work in the application of Buddhist practices and guided meditation to the topic of death. Stephen Levine and his wife, Ondrea, drew on their experience in Vipassana meditation techniques to help thousands of individuals approach the idea of death with an open heart (Platek, 2009). Though Stephen has since passed, Ondrea continues to maintain their website, levinetalks.com, which hosts additional video and written resources.

URL: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/100574/who-dies-by-stephen-and-ondrea-levine/9780385262217/


All images were used courtesy of Pixabay, in alignment with CC0 Creative Commons licensing.

Gelles, D. (2017, May 10). How to be mindful while taking a shower. The New York Times.  Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/well/mind/how-to-be-mindful-while-taking-a-shower.html 

Germer, C. K., Siegel, R. D., & Fulton, P. R. (2013).Mindfulness and psychotherapy(2nded.). NY: The Guildford Press.

Kashdan, T. B. (2011). Confronting death with an open, mindful attitude. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/curious/201102/confronting-death-open-mindful-attitude 

Kriegel, L. (2017, August 8). Mindfulness and its meaning in palliative care. Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Retrieved from https://csupalliativecare.org/wp-content/uploads/mindfulness-ebook-08.08.2017.pdf

Martin, C. E. (2015, August 14). Zen and the art of dying well. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/14/zen-and-the-art-of-dying-well/

Niemiec, C. P., Brown, K. W., Kashdan, T. B., Cozzolino, P. J., Breen, W. E. … & Ryan, R. M. 

(2010). Being present in the face of existential threat: The role of trait mindfulness in reducing defensive responses to mortality salience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99(2): 344-365. doi:10.1037/a0019388 

Ostaseki, F. As quoted by Illing, S. (2018, January 24). What the living can learn from the dying. Vox. Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/12/7/16690024/buddhism-health-care-death-mindfulness-spirituality

Schriener, I., & Malcolm. J. P. (2008). The benefits of mindfulness meditation; Changes in emotional states of depression, anxiety, and stress. Behaviour Change, 25(3): 156-168. doi:10.1375.bech.25.3.156

Mindfulness for a Good Death II

by Abbi Fowler and Hannah Roy

Using Mindfulness to contribute to a Good Death: A Guide for Families and their Loved Ones

As we age, the aspect of death may creep into our minds more often than we may like. In many cases death occurs suddenly with little to no indication, while others may receive a diagnosis terminal in nature that allow individuals and their families time to plan and organize the type of care they wish to receive when the time comes. Death can create feelings of worry, anxiety and fear, however there are strategies that can be used by both the individual and the family to prepare for the process of dying as well as death itself that will optimally support the individual to experience a “good death”.

A Good Death

What is meant by a good death? The term encompasses the preferences of an individual that support the way in which they would like to die. For example, dying at home, effective pain management, use of alternative therapies, surrounded by loved ones etc. (Repa, 2018). What constitutes a good death will be different for every individual as individual’s needs, preferences, ideas and perceptions of death vary significantly.

One way a good death can be viewed, is the way in which individuals would ideally like the process of death to be like for them and their family. Death not only involves the physical aspects of one’s body but also the emotional, social, mental and spiritual spheres of one’s overall wellbeing. However, when someone approaches death, mindful care should be provided in a holistic way that allows both the family and the individual to be as comfortable as possible.

A Good Death

Facing our own or a loved one’s mortality is possibly one of the hardest things that humans experience. In Canada, many of us choose to almost ignore death, which can make us fearful, unprepared, and closed off to death. Dying with dignity is possibly one of the most important factors in a ‘good death’. “Dignified dying” has been defined as maintaining personal comfort and control as the end of life approaches (Rankin, Donahue, Davis, Johnson, Maas, Wedig & Katseres, 1998).

Mindfulness and a Good Death

There are many different ways to help an individual have a dignified death and if the individual is open to using mindfulness it is a great tool to incorporate. Mindfulness is an exercise that allows and supports individuals to focus attention on their current feelings, emotions and internal body sensations (Stella, 2016). When an individual practices mindfulness they approach their current experiences of feelings, emotions and internal body sensations in a non-judgmental, accepting and compassionate manner (Stella, 2016).

Mindfulness practice gives insight into feelings that may be causing anxiety and fear and creates a healthy space to confront these emotions. Mindfulness of death supports an individual and family to prioritize what is important in their life. It helps us live our last days with purpose and intention and helps mitigate feelings of uncertainty and fear so, these feelings do not consume one’s final days of life (Shonin & Gordon, 2014).

Mindfulness in Dying

It will take time to feel comfortable when practicing mindfulness as it requires a degree of attention and purpose that may have never been accessed before. Mindfulness practices can be used by both the individual who is approaching death as well as their family members and friends to address unpleasant and intrusive feelings surrounding death, grief and loss.

Mindfulness Exercises

When an individual has a strong fear of death it can lead to unbearable anxiety. When a dying individual has anxiety they feel that their pain is increased, discomfort is increased and no matter what interventions are tried to relieve all of those things the anxiety and fear still prevail. Using mindfulness to relieve some of the anxiety and fear for the individual can be beneficial. Here is a short exercise for individuals to realize the fear is present and to keep the fear and anxiety from controlling them.

Mindful Death
  • When anxiety and fear creep in start paying close attention. Notice your heart pumping more, your chest tightening, your body stiffening, let an imaginary alarm go off in your head.
  • Take as many deep breaths as you need to slow your body down. Placing your hand over your heart may help.
  • Acknowledge to yourself, I’m fearful, I’m anxious, I’m worried. Name the fear so you can create a distance between yourself and the intensity of the emotional reaction.
Mindful death

  • Say a few phrases of well-wishing toward yourself.
  • ‘May I see the source of my fear’?
  • ‘May I be safe and free from fear’?
  • ‘May I be happy and at ease?’
  • As fearful thoughts of dread and worry continue to arise, approach them with openness. Don’t treat them as a threat.
  • Be kind toward yourself for being afraid. See what happens when you hold your ground and let the fear rise in your mind. You may find comfort inside.

Mindfulness for Family Members

Family members and friends also experience waves of emotion when supporting their loved one through the dying process. It is not uncommon for family to not verbalize their feelings and/or emotions they are experiencing with others, as they do not want to burden anyone. If we keep these thoughts to ourselves they can manifest into negative self-talk and faulty thinking. Negative self-talk and even faulty thinking has the ability to perpetuate feelings of anxiety and fear surrounding death of a loved one. Below is a useful mindfulness exercise to address faulty thinking.

Mindful family

Remember thoughts are not necessarily facts.

  • Just because you are thinking something does not make it true.

Is it true?

Ask yourself, why this thought could be true? What information do you have would suggest that is true?

  • We often always believe what we tell ourselves regardless of factual information.
  • Ask yourself, why this thought could be true? What information do you have would suggest that is true?

Is it absolutely true?

  • Try to think of reasons and/or explanations of why this thought could not be accurate or true.
I am

How does this thought make you feel?

  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, focus on the inhale and exhale of the breath.
  • Sit quietly, what feelings and emotions do you begin to experience?
  • Acknowledge these feelings, do not avoid them.
  • Repeat affirmations “ this feeling/emotion is not a threat”, “I can handle anything that comes my way”, “I am safe and loved”.
  • Open your eyes.

What would things be like if I did not hold this belief?

  • If I did not hold this thought or belief, what would happen good and bad?
  • Is this thought beneficial to myself or others?

Body Scan exercise for Pain Reduction Video

Video created by 
Hannah Roy and Abbi Fowler
1:50 mins, November 2018

Resources for a Good Death

Dying with Dignity Canada

Lotus Blue

This website is the platform for the national human-rights charity devoted to improving the quality of dying, protecting end-of-life rights and helping Canadians avoid unwanted suffering (Dying with Dignity, 2015). Much of the information shared on this website focuses on end-of-life options including information on medical assistance in dying (MAID). This websites offers support to the individual who is dying as well as their family and loved ones. There are three main tabs on the home web page including find support, education and our issues. Within these tabs you can find a wide variety of information including emotional support and bereavement counseling, navigating a request for MAID, a patient navigation booklet, finding palliative care resources where you live, and making an advance care plan etc. This website also shares two of their social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter as well as a blog that shares personal stories of individuals and families surrounding their experience of MAID.

URL: https://www.dyingwithdignity.ca/

The Art of Dying Well

Lotus Blue

This website offers an abundance of information and resources for individuals who are in the process of dying as well as their family and friends. Not only does this website offer written information there are also videos available to complement the information being shared. There are 6 main tabs at the top of the home web page which include what is dying well?, talking about death, facing death personally, losing a loved one, caring for the dying and about this site. If you click on one of these tabs it will further explore the topic into many subcategories. The website also shares their social media platforms in the top right
corner including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. A very interesting resource – this website also offers podcasts regarding all things related to death, which are free to access.

URL: http://www.artofdyingwell.org

The Sacred Dying Foundation

Lotus Blue

The Sacred Dying Foundation provides resources for individuals who are approaching death. The homepage displays five tabs including home, about us, events, contact, media and resources. The events page shares various events in the Vancouver area including workshops and meet and greets (death cafe) for individuals who are approaching death as well as their loved ones. The resource tab is extremely valuable as it shares a list of books and websites that can be beneficial for anyone impacted by the process of dying or death itself.

URL: http://dyingmatterscanada.com

The Conversation Project

Lotus Blue

The Conversation Project is a public engagement initiative with a goal to have every person’s wishes for end-of-life-care expressed and respected; too many people die in a manner they would not choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain (Institute for Healthcare Improvement, 2018). Starting the conversation about death can be very difficult for many and The Conversation project wants to help by offering tools, guidance, and resources to begin talking with those that are close to you about their wishes.

URL: http://www.theconversationproject.org/

Canadian Virtual Hospice

Lotus Blue

The Canadian Virtual Hospice provides support and personalized information about palliative and end-of-life care to patients, family members, health care providers, researchers and educators ). The Canadian Virtual Hospice started in 2004. At the Canadian Virtual Hospice, you can ask a professional any questions you have about your individualized experience. This is a safe place to sort through issues related to death and dying; the information and support they get helps make sense in times of confusion, offers compassion in times of isolation, and reassurance in times of anxiety.

URL: http://www.virtualhospice.ca


Goldstein, (2017). Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. Thoughts are not Facts (Practice). Retrieved from https://elishagoldstein.com/thoughts-are-not-facts/

Institute for Healthcare Improvement. (2018). The Conversation Project. Retrieved from http://www.theconversationproject.org/

Rankin, M., Donahue, M., Davis, K., Johnson, M., Maas, M., Wedig, J., & Katseres, J. (1998, January 01). Dignified dying as a nursing outcome. Outcomes Management for Nursing Practice [01 Jul 1998, 2(3):105-110.

Repa, B., (2018). What is a “Good Death”. Retrieved from https://www.caring.com/articles/a-good-death

Shonin, E., & Van Gordon, W. (2014). Mindfulness of death. Mindfulness, 5(4), 464-466.

Stella, M. (2016). Befriending death: A mindfulness-based approach to cultivating self-awareness in counseling students. Death Studies, 40(1), 32-39.

Choosing whether or not to have children


by Renee Belgrave

Making the decision whether or not to have children is a very difficult one for women. Societal pressure has women feeling “not normal” or “unfulfilled” if they choose not to have children. Girls are often taught at a young age that a woman will meet her ideal partner and get married, so that they can have 2.5 children, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence. But a lot of women are turning down this ideal to have lives that are focused on career development, travel-adventures, and child-free responsibilities. Some women are deciding that having a baby in this economy does not make any sense, or may loathe the idea of being responsible for another human for 18+ years. Many women go back and forth in their decision to have or not have children, which may create an emotional or moral conflict within themself that might last for years or until it is too late to physically bear children.


Many women have career goals that could be affected by child bearing, or in the midst of established careers feel their “mothering instinct” kick in. This dilemma is increasingly felt in the late thirties and beyond as women feel the tick of their “biological clock”. How can a woman make this incredibly complicated decision and feel confident in their reasoning? Mindfulness is a tool that can help women tap into their thoughts and emotions in a more objective way, resulting in more confident decision-making.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is an awareness that arises when someone intentionally attends to the present moment in an open and discerning way (Shapiro, Jazaieri, & Goldin, 2012). Mindfulness involves awareness of what is arising without changing the experience, but rather how you relate to the experience. People who are more mindful have a heightened awareness of their behaviors and routines, and factors that influence their behaviors; therefore, they have the greater ability to start or stop a behavior that does not benefit them (Black, Sussman, Johnson, & Milam, 2012).


Mindfulness can strengthen your ability to stay focused while decision-making in the present moment. Without the capacity to pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, intentions, and actions, or a thorough review of your desires and goals, it can be hard to have a true understanding of what our higher purpose is (whether to be a mother or not), and how to reach self-actualization (Perlman, 2017). In order to make the right decisions for yourself, you need to understand your priority goals and intentions. Mindfulness allows you to shift from a subjective, personal perspective to a more objective one, allowing you to see the situation with greater clarity and objectivity (Shapiro et.al., 2012).


When using mindfulness, you might experience uncomfortable feelings, but it is important to tune into those in order to understand where they are coming from and whether those feelings serve you (Perlman, 2017). People who are mindful appear to have less interpersonal stressors, and are better communicators, making it easier to manage critical feedback on their decisions (Reynolds, Lin, Zhou, & Consedine, 2014).

3 Simple Exercises for Developing Mindfulness

How can the concept of mindfulness be applied when making a major decision such as having children? Like any skill, mindfulness takes practice and a bit of help to move in the right direction. Here are three simple mindfulness exercises that can help you focus on the present moment:

Mindful Breathing

(Adapted from developgoodhabits.com)

This exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, and pretty much anywhere at any time. All you have to do is be still and focus on your breath for just one minute.

  • Start by breathing in and out slowly. One breath cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds.
  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body.
Mindful Breathing
  • Purposefully watch your breath, focusing your sense of awareness on its pathway as it enters your body and fills you.
  • Then watch with your awareness as your breath works its way up and out of your mouth and its energy dissipates into the world.

Write in a Journal

(Adapted from developgoodhabits.com)

After you have completed some mindful breathing, or first thing in the morning, write three pages of long hand, consciousness writing in a journal for about ten minutes. It can be about anything that crosses your mind, and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do this. This style of journaling helps provoke, clarify, comfort, prioritize, and synchronize your thoughts and emotions, and minimizes endless mental chatter that may be distracting you from making a clear decision.

Mindful Journaling

Do a Mindful Body Scan

(Adapted from developgoodhabits.com)

The simplest way to get in touch with how you are feeling is to do a mindful body scan. A body scan is a meditative practice in which you focus on each part of your body, every area, often beginning at the toes and moving methodically up to your head. The key here is to train your attention to focus on each specific body part for a moment and pay close attention to how you feel, then move on.

Mindful body scan

These three techniques are just a sample of mindfulness exercises that will help you process and clarify your decision. When deciding whether or not to have children, it is important to practice mindfulness to understand your own goals and purpose, and utne into discomfort to determine whether it serves you in your decision and if it is in the best interest of your goals and life purpose (Perlman, 2017).

Mindful decisions

Using Mindfulness when deciding on having Children Video

Video created by 
Renee Belgrave
2:25 mins, November 2018

Mindful Resources

Childfree Reflections

Lotus Blue

This is a blog by Marcia Drut-Davis who writes to educate, support, inspire, and facilitate honest communication about the decision of choosing not to have child.

URL: http://www.childfreereflections.com/

The Hardest Thing About Deciding Not To Have Children

Lotus Blue

This blog post is about the fears and pressures of having a child when you unconsciously do not want children. “When it came time to try for a baby, something in me baulked. I knew that it was normal to experience a degree of anxiety when confronted with major life changes, but this felt different.”

URL: https://www.sbs.com.au/topics/life/relationships/article/2018/01/09/hardest-thing-about-deciding-not-have-children

Mindfulness: the Art of Being in the Present

Lotus Blue

This blog post discusses ways to integrate mindfulness into your daily life. “In the first half hour of when I wake up each morning, I’m mindful of how I’m feeling physically and emotionally. Doing this without judgment helps my entire day flow much more easily.”

URL: https://www.simplemindfulness.com/mindfulness-the-art-of-being-in-the-present-moment/

Simple Mindfulness Resources

Lotus Blue

When you sign up for their mailing list, you receive access to free mindfulness tools on various topics. Paige Oldham offers her library of free resources, like e-books, templates, and worksheets, that will help you learn more about mindfulness, find your happiness, and make better decisions, among other things.

URL: https://www.simplemindfulness.com/free-resources-2/


Lotus Blue

This blog is written by Paulina, who shares her experiences with mindfulness, spirituality, and more. “My name is Paulina and I am the creator of Mindful-30s. It is a page for anyone looking to live a more mindful life, no matter what your age.”

URL: https://mindful-30s.com/


Black, D.S., Sussman, S., Johnson, C.A., & Milam, J. (2012). Trait mindfulness helps shield decision-making from translating into health-risk behavior. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51(2012), p. 588-592

Develop Good Habits. (n.d.) 71 mindfulness exercises for living in the present moment.Retrieved from https://www.developgoodhabits.com/mindfulness-exercises/

Perlman, A. (2017). Informed mindfulness and the art of decision making. Explore ,13(2), p.143-144

Reynolds, L.M., Lin, Y.S., Zhou, E., & Consedine, N.S. (2014). Does a brief state mindfulness moderate disgust-driven social avoidance and decision-making? An experimental investigation. Journal of Behavioral Medicine,2015(38), p.98-109

Shapiro, S.L. , Jazaieri, H., & Goldin, P.R.,  (2012) Mindfulness- based stress reduction effects on moral reasoning and decision making. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 7(6), p. 504-515, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2012.723732