Over 30 years of research has shown that mindfulness promotes psychological flexibility and physical and mental health. Specifically, mindfulness practice strengthens the neural pathways that create changes in the brain, laying the foundation for new patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. This helps people impacted by trauma and complex life challenges and those who care for them by:
- Increasing awareness, improving the ability to make clear decisions
- Improving compassion, strengthening kindness and empathy
- Learning practical strategies to use in everyday situations, reducing stress
In 2011, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing completed two studies on the impact of ElderSHINESM on low-income elders. The results were published in the Journal of Urban Health and Journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine.
The Director of Kennedy Krieger’s PACT Therapeutic Nursery, who has over 25 years of experience, attended one of Amy’s professional development workshops, and knew she had to share it with her staff.
After bringing SHINESM to the nursery, she said, “SHINE has supported the Nursery in ways that I could never have imagined.”
Now, PACT will be the CMA’s first pilot organization to fully integrate mindful awareness practices with its staff and clients in all of its programs.
At PACT, the CMA is partnering with Dr. Waylon Howard, Ph.D., at the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities in order to gather information from staff members and families on SHINE’s ability to increase self-awareness, promote self-regulation, build resilience and reduce stress.
We plan to look at our impact on PACT’S other programs including the World of Care child care for medically fragile children; the Growing Together program for parents with intellectual disabilities; as well as Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Child and Family Support Program, a center and home-based early intervention therapy program.
And, although gathering data is extremely important in illustrating the benefits of the CMA’s programs, we are most proud of the fact that SHINE program participants tell us each week that the workshops have had a huge influence on their daily lives.
A senior social worker with over thirty years of experience:
“I have no doubt that your mindfulness program, in combination with our attachment work, is the most effective tool I have known to help parents regulate in the 38 years I have been working in mental health.”
A childcare teacher with ten years of experience:
“This program is ideal for anyone, no matter your social/economic status. However, underserved populations may never have this opportunity if it was not for SHINE.”
A young father (with a history of incarceration, domestic violence and drug use), shared these comments in a SHINE group:
“It’s like I’ve been on a merry-go-round. I’ve always acted on my emotions, and kept making the same mistakes and getting the same bad consequences. These keys are ways to not make the same mistakes. They change the course of my action. I can do things in a different way, and now there’s a good consequence.”
A young mother, with a history of substance abuse and homelessness:
“Last night, when my baby was screaming and yelling in his crib, I was going to go in there and pop him. Then I remembered one of the keys to mindfulness (STOP), and stopped, took a breath, saw how tense and angry I was inside, looked at my baby and thought – maybe he needed something from me. So I asked for help. I didn’t hit my baby, and they didn’t have to call Child Protective Services.”
A woman living in transitional housing:
“This program has meant a lot to me. It’s better than anger management. I moved from “F*** you“ to “let it slide.”
Low-income seniors living in subsidized housing:
“By sitting quietly we learn to slow down – we learn about peace.”
“I learned about meditating and letting your mind be free; letting the quietness come in.”
“My mind was clear and my knees don’t hurt!”