The Carlow Mental Health Association’s Mensana Fest 2023 brought together a community eager to explore practical approaches to mental well-being. Among the noteworthy speakers was Catherine Callaghan, whose Friday evening talk resonated with a fully attentive crowd. Catherine’s presentation, “Practicing the Pause for Parents, Teachers, and Caregivers,” unveiled a treasure trove of tools for building a personal Wellness Toolbox. The insights Catherine shared to foster mindfulness and enhance mental resilience were
- Catherine’s first nugget of wisdom involves a fundamental shift in mindset. By changing our focus from speculative “what if” scenarios to acknowledging and addressing the reality of “what is” happening in the present moment, we pave the way for a more grounded and less anxious state of mind.
- In a world characterized by constant hustle, Catherine introduced the audience to the power of controlled breathing. The box breathing technique, with its rhythmic inhale, hold, exhale, and hold sequence, acts as a simple yet potent tool to calm the nervous system. It serves as a reminder that amidst life’s chaos, moments of tranquillity are just a few breaths away. Box breathing (inhale x4 hold x4 exhale x4 hold for x4)
- As modern life encourages multitasking, Catherine advocates for a return to mindfulness by doing one thing at a time. By immersing ourselves fully in each task, we cultivate a sense of presence and focus that can significantly reduce stress and enhance the quality of our work.
- The use of a sacred mantra, coupled with a tactile experience of touching each finger to the thumb, adds a spiritual dimension to Catherine’s toolkit. The repetition of the sounds SA-TA-NA-MA, synchronized with the gentle touch, provides a calming ritual that aids in centering the mind and promoting a sense of inner peace.
- Acknowledging the profound connection between the mind and body, Catherine shared a physical action to reset the midline. Crossing the left foot over the right, the right arm over the left, and embracing oneself is a tangible gesture that symbolizes self-care and self-love. This physical reset encourages a holistic approach to well-being.
By offering a variety of tools that span the mental, emotional, and physical dimensions, Catherine empowered her audience to create their own Wellness Toolbox. As we navigate the complexities of daily life, Catherine’s insights serve as a compass, guiding us toward a more mindful and resilient existence. The event was undoubtedly a testament to the transformative power of simple yet profound practices in nurturing our mental well-being.