Mindfulness Academy launches at Brain Health Awareness Week

Posted on Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rippled water with floating autumn leaves
By Linda Scales

Think now: Do you go through your days functioning on autopilot? Do the weeks whoosh by and you find it hard to recall what you’ve seen or done? Unfortunately, too many people know this feeling. But help is at hand. 

The University of Ottawa’s new Academy of Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies will be officially launched, on Monday, October 3, at this year's Brain Health Awareness Week. It will study mindfulness, “the ability to sustain a calm and concentrated awareness of body and mind in the present moment,” says its website.

Diana Koszycki, one of six founding members, says the new academy will be one of the first such centres in Canada. It is intended to be a “unified umbrella where faculty and graduate students can meet to talk and collaborate,” attracting researchers and scholars from across the University, as well as from the hospitals and affiliated research institutes.

Koszycki is a professor in the Faculty of Education and holds the University’s Research Chair in Mental Health in partnership with Montfort Hospital. The other founding members are André Vellino and Anne Vallely from the Faculty of Arts, and Carol Gonsalves, Millaray Sanchez-Campos and Heather MacLean from the Faculty of Medicine.

The academy will provide mindfulness training and public education, and encourage teaching and learning initiatives, such as integrating mindfulness in classrooms to help boost students’ concentration and academic success.

Several mindfulness research projects and education programs are already happening at uOttawa, says Koszycki. Buddhist mindfulness meditation is also offered by Vellino through an arrangement between the academy and uOttawa’s Centre for Continuing Education, the academy’s Mindfulness in Medicine Journal Club meets bi-monthly to discuss evidence-based research on the effects of mindfulness in medicine, and a pilot course on mindfulness, contemplation and search for meaning is being offered to undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts.  

Third annual Brain Health Awareness Week

The uOttawa Brain and Mind Research Institute is hosting Brain Health Awareness Week, to raise public awareness about brain research. At this year’s sessions, participants will hear about:

  • Selected research on the benefits of mind/body interventions on mental health and how mindfulness training can “rewire” the brain
  • New stroke research that is driving significant advances in prevention, acute treatment and rehabilitation
  • Vision 20x20, a suicide prevention initiative that aims to reduce rates of suicide and self-harm in Ottawa by 20% by 2020
  • Scientific knowledge relating to brain disorders that can be used to help people with concussion injuries at the clinical level. Joining the experts at this session will be concussion injury survivors, who will share their perspectives
  • The Integrated Parkinson's Care Network experience through the eyes of someone living with Parkinson’s disease, plus other successes in Parkinson's research at the uOBMRI and The Ottawa Hospital.

Registration is required for each event, although all sessions are free. Events take place from October 3 to 7 at 451 Smyth Road. Most (though not all) will start at 5:30 p.m.

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