Dale Wells-Marshall, like many other people, has experienced situations that caused her overwhelming stress that affected her mentally and physically. Wells decided she wanted the tools to put herself in the “driver’s seat” to transformation and overcoming situations, rather than having a victim mentality. She decided to take ownership of her mindset, actions and personal development, and learnt about mindfulness – a practice of training the mind to focus or pay attention to the present moment. Mindfulness helps people to balance their emotions, which results in them becoming more aware of their thoughts and emotions, so they can choose how they want to respond, rather than their actions being led by their thoughts and emotions.
“Adding mindfulness to my daily routine helped me to build a resilience that I could not fully get anywhere else,” said the mindfulness coach. “Each time that I meet difficult times in life, I always add mindfulness as one of the tools toward restoration,” said the founder of Star Inspired, Inc.
Wells-Marshall said scientific research has proven that the brain has “plasticity” – which means the brain has the ability to change or reorganize itself, by creating new patterns. And when practiced over time, mindfulness gives a person the ability to recognize their mental patterns and choose a new or desired response.
“Mindfulness develops the brain. We teach people to understand the triggers that arise in their brains and bodies and how to handle them, so they can choose their response. In essence, we are strengthening our ability to change toxic behavior, emotions and rewrite harmful patterns. This is exciting for people dealing with behavioral issues, emotional problems, chronic pain, managing everyday stress and learning new information.”
After seeing the change that it brought about in her life, Wells-Marshall said she began to reflect on the fact that many adults face critical times and are faced with having to “unpack” a lifetime of emotions that they were never taught how to process. She became curious about how she could be a part of providing help for them.
The educator by profession, who is also a certified kids yoga instructor, pursued the study of mindfulness at the Academy of Modern Applied Psychology as well as Mindful Schools because she said she felt a strong sense of purpose to practice and share mindfulness as her life’s work.
“It is my life’s purpose to bring this tool to our communities and work spaces to open up a dialogue of self-care. You matter in whatever it is that you bring your time and talents to. Your best self should be allowed a quiet space or conscious moment to breathe and live even more fully. How would more focus, emotional awareness, balanced moods, decreased anxiety, less stress and a brighter, more aware outlook affect your life? I’d bet there’s definitely room for these things in busy schedules.”
The Star Inspired, Inc. founder said mindfulness is important because it is the groundwork for a person building the mindset that they want, rather than working through the mindset that their environment has influenced them to take on.
“Our minds are naturally busy, and often wander, causing us to lose focus on important things. Because we have a tendency to focus our attention on things that have not yet happened (future), we experience fear and anxiety; and when our mind is focused on things that have already happened (the past), we can experience regret, depression and frustration. At the mercy of all the stressors and experiences, we cannot achieve a positive mindset.”
Training the brain to focus on the present moment she said helps people to be in control of their thoughts, emotions and response. And also increases their ability to learn and focus on information.
In a pandemic world, Wells-Marshall said mindfulness has its place and has not changed. What has changed she said is the ways that people have had to access mindfulness practice. Talks and practice groups have moved into virtual spaces to enable people to continue to be able to find support groups to help them stay committed to their personal growth.
A misconception she said that many people have about mindfulness is that it is a spiritual or religious practice; both ideas she said are false.
“There are no spiritual or religious practices, references or words whatsoever involved in mindfulness-based therapies and interventions. The interesting thing is that you don’t have to meditate at all to practice mindfulness if you don’t want to. A trained mindfulness instructor/coach can utilize many different multi-sensory ways to help people practice mindfulness exercises,” she said.
“There’s a little magic in all of us if we should learn to find the pause in our lives. In a world of constant activity and hustle being glorified, we often run on autopilot. This autopilot doesn’t remind us to ‘check in’ with ourselves and stand in the awareness of what we are truly experiencing mentally, emotionally and physically in each moment. By committing to this practice regularly, or in moments of high stress, people have come to find the peace and power to choose their response in challenging situations.”
Wells-Marshall said mindfulness is a credible practice and a time-tested, powerful tool, backed by neuroscience and research from the medical community.
Neuroscience she said has decades of research that fully supports the amazing benefits of mindful practice on our brains. The research she said is astounding that the practice of mindfulness helps people to self-regulate (find calm and regulate hard emotions); manage behavioral response to emotions; focus; reduce tension, anxiety and stress; and increase positive learning outcomes.