Awareness and education about nutrition, physical activity and UV protection, and how they reduce cancer rates have been targeted in town through the Pincher Creek Wellness Committee. One issue that doesn’t receive as much attention, however, is stress.
“Stress is a huge multiplier for any illness,” said Ria Frith, group leader for the mindful meditation sessions and member of the Pincher Creek Wellness Committee. “Anytime you have more stress on board, you have less healing, less resilience, less immune function.”
Town locals have been gathering twice a week in Cenotaph Park to practice outdoor mindfulness meditation. The meetings are part of a new initiative in Pincher Creek through the Recreation and Community Services to make a healthy lifestyle more easily approachable.
The meditation sessions are part of a provincial grant program called Alberta Prevents Cancer and is provided through Pincher Creek Wellness Committee. The program is designed to increase the accessibility of healthy choices to residents. It also creates access to activities that have not been offered in the past.
“[It’s] really focused on supporting [and] building a culture in Pincher Creek that is making it easier for people to have lifestyle shifts that are going to be most resilient around lifestyle diseases,” said Frith.
Cancer is the main focus of the provincial grant program due to the immense about of research that has been done on the disease. The research shows how different lifestyle choices impact cancer rates, such as lowering stress levels, increasing physical activity and curbing habits such as smoking.
Frith adds that meditation is a good way to alleviate some of the stress we pick up throughout the day. There are three forms of meditation, she said, and mindfulness is the less intense of the three. The experience is all about your immediate surroundings.
“[It’s] about trying to experience the present moment without putting a lot of judgement or extra interpretation into it,” she said. “It’s really good for integrating all parts of the brain.”
The culture we live in puts a lot of emphasis on the left side of the brain — logic. Mindful meditation allows the right side of the brain — creativity and arts — to “come into play a little bit more and even things out,” said Frith.
The meditation sessions are open to anyone who would like to peacefully enjoy the early morning air of Pincher Creek from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. in Cenotaph Park. The sessions are free of charge and are held every Tuesday and Thursday morning until July 27.