Better with Age: The Mindfulness Project

Better with Age: The Mindfulness Project

By Dawn M. Higgins, Ph.D.

Today, what are you grateful for?

This is the question being asked around the City of Alexandria from April 15 to April 21 because the city’s Commission on Aging is leading a community art activity called the Mindfulness Project.

The purpose of the project is to create awareness about the many services available to aging adults in the city and to promote wellness in the community through a mindfulness activity. Chalkboards with gratitude question are in eight different locations throughout Alexandria to encourage the community to take a moment and reflect on what they are grateful for.

The Mindfulness Project is based on the community art project by New Orleans artist Candy Chang and mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn’s meditation activities. Chang inspired a worldwide participatory art activity that encouraged people to reflect on their lives and share what they wanted to accomplish before they die. Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness Meditation-Based Stress Reduction Intervention and describes the practice as “gentle, appreciative and nurturing.”

Mindfulness is a meditation practice that focuses on awareness and the present moment. Mindfulness-based techniques have been shown to be effective in promoting well-being, improve emotional stress and decrease symptoms of anxiety. Gratitude is considered a mediator of mindfulness as a way of creating heartfulness. Unfortunately, one of the residuals of the COVID-19 pandemic is the increase of anxiety, depression and isolation for many individuals. The hope of the Mindfulness Project’s outcome is to help promote well-being in the various communities in the city.

Another purpose of the Mindfulness Project is to create awareness of the services available to seniors in Alexandria. Each chalkboard has a QR code that takes you to the website of the Alexandria Commission on Aging, Division of Aging and Adult Services and Senior Services of Alexandria.

There, you will find the initiatives of the Commission on Aging that focus on seniors. Some of these initiatives involve ensuring that seniors are included in the discussion of major changes that occur within the city. The Division of Aging and Adult Services is our local area Agency on Aging; they provide a coordinated system of services for older Alexandrians that help inside and outside of the home. On Senior Services of Alexandria’s website, you will find information on the different programs available to seniors, such as the Meals on Wheels delivery program and monthly events.

Check out the programs at the Charles Houston Recreation Center, Patrick Henry Recreation Center, Senior Services of Alexandria, the West End Goodwin House and Casa Chirilagua, as well as the resources and educational programs at Ms. Moxie’s Moon Shop. Don’t forget to stop by Dolci Gelati in Old Town and Pat Miller’s Neighborhood Square in Del Ray to reflect and share what you are grateful for today!

On April 18 at noon, the committee and staff will gather at Patrick Henry Recreation Center at 4643 Taney Ave. to note what we are grateful for. Feel free to join us to recognize this event.

The writer is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 20 years of experience as a psychotherapist.