Author Brenner is mindful about mental health
May 20, 2016
Mental health, like physical health, is something that should be maintained throughout our lives and not just addressed when there is a crisis.
Mental exercises are just as important as aerobic and anaerobic activities, and use the brain instead of the brawn.
That’s what Rebecca Brenner, owner of Park City Holistic Health, and author of "The Kid’s User Guide to a Human Life" books, will talk about during her free presentation tilted "Power of Mindfulness" on Tuesday, May 24, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Lecture Hall at the Park City High School, 1750 Kearns Blvd.
In addition to Brenner, a group of Park City School District counselors will be at the event to answer any questions.
The event is presented by Connect Summit County, an organization that raises awareness of the importance of mental health.
"I will give a talk and teach the audience three mindfulness tools that they will be able to apply the moment they leave," Brenner told The Park Record. " It’s never too late for people to start meditating and being mindful."
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Brenner’s presentation is based on her books, which, so far, includes "An Open Mind," which was published in 2014, and "An Open Heart," which will hit bookstores in August.
Both books will be available for purchase at the presentation and the first 50 people will receive a free, signed copy of "An Open Mind."
"Book one focuses on mindfulness of mind and includes practices and vocabulary of what that means, which is to consciously use our intentions to look at what our mind is generating," Brenner said. "That includes habits, conditioning and things that we have inherited in regards of thought patterns."
Book two looks at another piece of mindfulness — emotions.
"In mindfulness, there is a distinction between feelings and emotions," Brenner explained. "The book looks at that. It examines how feelings come through and how emotions get built up around feelings.
"It looks at how our mental habits contribute to the momentum of all of that and how we can use our attention to step out of that," she said. "When we can step out of what’s going on, we have some space to consciously work on what’s happening, instead of becoming overcome by thoughts and feelings."
It is a lifelong process, and that is something Brenner will address Tuesday night.
"There is a misconception that if you practice mindfulness and yoga that you will reach this state of bliss and float off on a cloud," she said. "We’re still going to experience challenges, strong emotions and feel afraid or a loss when we lose someone or something that we care deeply about. But we will have this base, this reference point to prevent us from becoming possessed by the issue."
Brenner’s life experiences spurred her to write the books.
"I grew up in a family where there was a lot of mental illness and addictions and for whatever reason, I was led to meditation, mindfulness and holistic nutrition," she said. "Mindfulness has been essential to helping me come through those times in my life with a deeper understanding and letting go of things that no longer serve me.
"One of the reasons I was so interested in writing the series and sharing mindfulness with all ages and ranges, is because when I was getting into my late teens and early 20s and coming into my own challenges, fears and anxieties and emotional habits, I was shocked that yoga, meditation and mindfulness wasn’t part of our curriculum," Brenner said. "There is nothing magical or mystical about mindfulness. These are real cognitive capacities we all have and, like any capacity or skill, they can be developed and strengthened. The benefit this could have for young people, families and community organizations can be powerful and transformative."
Even simple mindfulness practices can help.
"As you remember that you can be in the moment, whether you are driving your car or washing your dishes, you consciously come out of the flood of discursive thoughts that flood your mind," Brenner said. "If you do that on a daily basis, once you get to crises, if you do get to crises, the mindfulness becomes your base. And you have those skills that will help you work through these issues.
"This sets up a life path that is a health regimen for your emotional well-being," she said. "That’s what I like about the ‘Kids User Guides.’ We say it’s for kids and for the ‘inner kids.’ It’s for all ages, because the best thing you can do to teach kids mindfulness is to practice it yourself, every day in home. It’s not just being present, but being available with your attention and not on your phone, computing or driving all at the same time."
Connect Summit County co-founder and board member Dyan Pignatelli reached Brenner through Samantha Walsh, the intervention counselor at Park City High School.
"Dyan reached out to Sam and Sam reached out to me and told me that Connect was putting together these amazing programs for Mental Health Awareness Month and asked if I would be interested in participating," Brenner said. "I was like, ‘Yes.’
"My role and why I’m passionate about what Rebecca does is that I see Connect as an organization that keeps people healthy mentally," Pignatelli said. "I see meditation and mindfulness as a direction that I would like to see Connect go because I believe we are going to have to have that balance in order for us to get a larger population to focus in on mental health."
The Park City School District in partnership with Connect, a non-profit group trying to bring awareness to mental health issues, will present the "Power of Mindfulness" with author Dr. Rebecca Brenner on Tuesday, May 24, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Lecture Hall at the Park City High School, 1750 Kearns Blvd. Refreshments will be provided. The event is free and open to the public. For more information about Rebecca Brenner, visit http://www.rebeccabrenner.com. For more information about Connect Summit County, visit facebook.com/ConnectSummitCounty.