What would happen if an entire city practiced mindfulness? The Vermont Community Foundation has set out to answer that question by awarding the Center for Mindful Learning an Innovations and Collaborations Grant "to teach and integrate mindfulness into the core city institutions of Winooski."
According to the Center for Mindful Learning, mindfulness is "a practice of building attention and relaxation skills." The center says that research shows that mindfulness effectively reduces stress, anxiety and depression in youth and adults.
The center offers "mindfulness training" online, in schools and at its residential center. And now that training is also being offered to residents and officials across Winooski. The city-wide initiative is called Mindful City.
The New Oxford American Dictionary (at least the version that came loaded on my laptop) gives two definitions for the noun mindfulness. It's this second definition that gets to the core of what is taught at the Center for Mindful Learning.
A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
The Center for Mindful Learning will work with the Winooski Police Department, the Winooski School District, and Centerpoint Adolescent Treatment Services to implement the city-wide mindfulness initiative. Mindfulness training opportunities will also be available to parents, community members and businesses throughout Winooski.
Mindful City Project Consultant Lindsay Foreman said community support is the key to the project. “Mindfulness gives us the skills and motivation to care for ourselves, each other and the planet." she said. "It is not easy to do, so we need a community to support us."
Winooski's JFK Elementary School worked with the Center for Mindful Learning last year. It was that experience that led to idea for school district-wide, and eventually city-wide, mindfulness training.
Foreman added, “As far as we know, a city-wide mindfulness initiative has never been tried. This is a huge opportunity for all of us and we are excited for the potential impact it will have.”
Those interested in following the progress of the Mindful City initiative can do so at the Center for Mindful Learning Blog.