From the Mental Health Team

Your Mental Health Ministry continues to provide educational and other resources in the form of brochures in the Gathering Space, a growing book collection in our Library under Mental Health—on the cart– and occasional training opportunities such as: MENTAL HEALTH 101; COMPANION TRAINING, and the 2-day ASIST training for suicide prevention, which was held in our church in September and was open to the public.

ASIST training was a very useful and successful event that gave us information, tips, and practice in how to communicate— hold a discussion — with someone who is suicidal; i.e., talking with them until finding the hook (what is important to the person) that can be used to encourage the person to stay alive for now until help is arranged. There were 20 attendees, with a good percentage from our church.

We also recently held a Mental Health Wellness event, on Monday, Nov. 14 at 6:30, which included practices that can help maintain a healthy mental and spiritual state and can help manage feelings when one’s mind is not at it’s optimal health, i.e.- anxious or so.

We practiced a type of deep breathing to help with anxiety, using belly breathing and lengthening breaths to calm our bodies and minds. Before we practiced the deep breathing, a meditation was shared that reminded us that we can’t reach God in a deep healing way through our minds but only through loving God, often in a sacrifice of quiet time becoming more aware of the Living Breath of God in us. All reported feeling calmer after this practice.

This is one of the premises behind Centering Prayer, which involves deep breathing and sitting in silence to offer one’s heart and mind as more available to God. We also used silent prayer to support one another in their concerns as we listened to each person’s burden and then sat in silence, as a gesture of sitting with them with God (in silent prayer support), for a minute in soft candle light. A candle was lit for most concerns. Tamsin led this section and reminded us that this time was not to be hurried, or pressured for everyone to share, so we often sat for a while in silence until someone was ready to share. In our impatient, impulsive world with a desire to control and fix this was a major change. There were some major burdens shared as a result. It was hard at first not to speak or react with a hug, etc.

However, later the feed back was that this was much appreciated by those suffering, because no one was trying to “fix it,” they felt safe sharing their full burden of grief, that it was ok to feel bad, in the warm soothing candle light, surrounded by loving presence of caring friends. By the end of the meeting, I witnessed a miracle. The somberness and sense of helplessness was relieved by laughter and even joy that was palpable— some lifting of suffering for a while. Suffering that was more bearable with loving support and God’s powerful subtle Spirit. We then worked together on a collaborative poem, which allowed us the pleasure and bonding of working together on something creative.

We learned yet again the value of prayer, connection to God, listening in love and the importance of staying silent at times. Stay tuned in the coming months for more of these special mental wellness events.