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You are not alone: Course offers mindfulness training

Leslie Wall is the program coordinator for Plumas Rural Services, a Northeastern California community-based, nonprofit organization providing services and opportunities for the well-being of local residents and families to improve quality of life by promoting health, education, prevention and treatment. Photo by Stacy Fisher

Local resident Pam Birdsall organized a free wellness event at Chester Memorial Hall titled “Wellness Through the Mind, Body & Soul — Another Approach to Suicide Prevention” on Dec. 3, bringing together an assembly of healing activists, special speakers and concerned community members to address ways to keep ourselves healthy emotionally, mentally and physically through various resources that are available in our area.

The statistics are staggering. The number of people suffering from stress-related issues is rising, according to the American Psychological Association, which reports that eight out of 10 people are experiencing some form of physical and/or emotional issues related to stress, often compounded by excessive drinking or drug abuse in an attempt to suppress symptoms.

Depression is a major concern in communities across the nation, and it is no different for many of those living in Plumas County, noted Leslie Wall, one of the speakers at the event.

Wall is the program coordinator for Plumas Rural Services, a Northeastern California community-based, nonprofit organization providing services and opportunities for the well being of local residents and families to improve quality of life by promoting health, education, prevention and treatment.

Under the auspices of PRS, Wall conducts various programs, workshops and counseling services.

With over 20 years of experience working with children, families and individuals, and facilitating small group discussions, classes and workshops, Wall is a certified Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction Practitioner, Mindful Nurturing Parenting Instructor, family teacher, trained peer counselor and suicide prevention specialist.

She shared information on programs at the wellness event that addressed suicide prevention available to anyone in the county that seek to engage those most at risk, including young people, veterans and seniors.

Wall said programs are funded through the Plumas County Department of Social Services and Child Protective Services to provide parenting classes for the county, “which I offer at the Wellness Centers in Portola, Chester, Greenville and Quincy.”

Called Mindful Nurturing Parenting, each session runs two hours a week for eight weeks and are completely free, she said.

Classes are open to anyone mandated to attend, as well as to those who are not required to appear. Programs are appropriate for parents, grandparents, CASA workers, teachers, and foster parents, “where we introduce the concept of mindfulness.”

In addition, “I have developed another eight-week curriculum based on mindfulness-based stress reduction.”

That class will be offered for the very first time at Feather River College in the spring, she said.

“We are now in the process of writing a Mindful Co-Parenting class, also available next spring for a small fee.”

For parents who need added support, “I also offer one-on-one coaching for parents and other clients. … Most of the parents I work with come to me from referrals” through the County Department of Social Services’ critical support program.

“I also provide coaching services using the mindfulness concept for people who are looking for private pay sessions as well,” Wall said.

According to Jon Kabat Zinn, the originator of the mindfulness-based stress reduction program at the University of Massachusetts, mindfulness is the awareness that arises from paying attention to our feelings, moment-by-moment in a non-judgmental way.

Wall continued, “Mindfulness is a powerful, scientifically proven resource for breaking free from harmful emotional ruts and mindless habits in order to live with full awareness and greater freedom.”

She said it’s important to point out that mindfulness is a healing practice for everyone, including those who may be suffering from depression or general anxiety.

“There’s so much we can learn to do that is self-calming that’s beneficial to our wellbeing,” adding that “mindfulness can alleviate those negative emotions that may lead to addiction, criminal behavior or self-harm.”

Wall goes on to say that, “Mindfulness is a life preserver of resilience that increases our ability to recognize our internal experience of mind and body. This recognition can lead to greater clarity, less chaos in our day-to-day lives, and allows us to learn to direct where we place our focus and attention.”

Exploring concepts such as acceptance, patience, non-judging, non-striving, trust, letting go/letting be, gratitude and generosity can lead to self-discovery, personal growth, and inner healing are the meat-and-potatoes of her teachings, she said.

“I am very much a supporter of any kind of suicide prevention work that’s currently being done in our county, but my push is to focus on creating a life that people don’t feel they need to escape from.”

Anyone interested in her services can contact Leslie Wall directly or register through PRS. Email Wall at [email protected] or call 283-3611.

More information can be found on the PRS webpage at www.plumasruralservices.org/mindfulness.

PRS domestic violence staff can be reached at 283-5675, Monday through Friday (except holidays). If you are in need of assistance with a domestic violence emergency, call 911 immediately.

Further after-hours assistance can be found by contacting the Plumas-Sierra Crisis Line at 877-332-2754 or by texting “Here2Help” to 72727.

PRS Counseling & Psychological Services offers a variety of adult and children’s mental health services on an outpatient basis. This service accepts private payments, insurance and employee assistance programs.

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