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Meditation offers mental health benefits

By Melissa Schilz, Postmedia Network

Kim McConaghy leads meditation groups in Forest and Petrolia, and will soon be offering children’s empowerment workshops that will give kids the tools of meditation. (Photo provided)

Kim McConaghy leads meditation groups in Forest and Petrolia, and will soon be offering children’s empowerment workshops that will give kids the tools of meditation. (Photo provided)

Taking five to 15 minutes a day to take a comfortable seat and meditate can offer you more health benefits than you might think.


Meditation and mindfulness teacher Kim McConaghy said meditation gives you a chance to ground yourself, enjoy the present moment and become more mindful of your own thoughts.


The more than 5000-year-old practice can also help to reduce stress, anxiety, symptoms of PTSD, decrease insomnia and hypertension and help with chronic pain, among other things. She said beginning your day with movement followed by a few minutes of meditation can give you a clearer perspective on life. And the more you do it, the deeper your practice becomes.


It was just a few years ago when McConaghy discovered the power of meditation. She said at first she didn’t know where to start, but soon began attending group meditations in the home of a close friend, Sheri Hughes Sennhauser.


Soon enough, McCanaghy was hosting the sessions in her home with her friend leading the way.


“We would all sit in a circle on my living room couch and dining room chairs,” she said. “I was eventually inspired and felt my purpose to share this tool and create community around it.”


She has since earned certification in meditation and is set to study mindfulness this coming April. She said she practices with an array of individuals, from seasoned meditators who maintain consistence practices, to those who have never taken an intentional breath in their life.


The Forest based teacher is now offering group meditation workshops on the first Friday of every month at Circle studio, designed to spark a sense of community while offering a tool that can help individuals with a number of mental health issues.


McConaghy said her personal struggles with depression and anxiety had been something she dealt with for as long as she could remember.


“Meditation has become my greatest coping strategy,” she said. “It calms my mind, relaxes my body and lifts my spirit.”


She said it takes her out of her head and into her heart, reminding her of what is beautiful and true within herself, her situation and in life as a whole.


“It really builds a strong foundation for wellbeing and happiness,” she said.


McCanaghy said starting out can seem daunting, but doing so in a group setting can be helpful. There are also phone applications like Insight Timer that offer a helping hand.


“You’re there to just be and breathe,” she said. “There’s a lot of power when you do that as a group, and for me, that was the beginning of my journey.”


The mother of two said the sooner you start, the easier it is to make it a habit, noting that teaching children to slow down and take a few deep breaths can be beneficial for their overall health and wellbeing.


Looking back at her own childhood, McConaghy said she’s realized how much meditation could have benefited her. She said introducing a regular meditation practice in school curriculum could help with behavioural issues, attention spans and even bullying.


“There’s an instant shift, and it’s a really great coping strategy for everybody, and for children, if they’re emotional or anxious or if they get angry easily,” she said. “It’s connecting with those emotions and giving them simple breathing techniques.”


McConaghy said schools could incorporate meditation in very simple ways, taking mindful moments or starting the day with a few deep breaths and movements.


“They’re going to work so much better, because their brains are a muscle constantly working…and that’s exhausting,” she said. “Especially for children.”


McConaghy has partnered with local artist Dayna Dekroon in running a series of Children’s Empowerment workshops, that will incorporate meditation, a lesson in gratitude and craft making. Sessions are set to be held in Forest, Kettle Point, Petrolia and Exeter this spring.


“Their mental health, their physical health…it teaches them to breathe in emotional situations,” she said.


‘I Am’ Children’s Workshops for ages 4 - 9 are being held March 25 in Forest at The Shores from 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m, April 21 in Kettle and Stony Point at Bimaadiziwin Room from 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m., April 28 at the Petroia Library from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and April 29 at the Exeter Library from 1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. Cost is $18 per child. To register, contact Kim at or visit her Facebook page.


Meditation groups are also being held every first Friday at Circle Studio for $15.