PeaceBox supports Whole Foods Lunch and Learn on Mindfulness

PeaceBox supports Whole Foods Lunch and Learn on Mindfulness

PeaceBox founder Stacy Thrash partnered with Whole Foods Market wellness for a Lunch and Learn session on Mindfulness, Wednesday June 21. This event coincided with Austin-based Whole Foods Market becoming one with Amazon, a milestone that could potentially be stressful for the close to 100 WFM Team Members that voluntarily attended. The news of the acquisition was announced on Friday, June 16th alleviating rumors about chains like Kroger and Albertson’s potentially acquiring the natural food grocer.

Thrash along with Dr. David Wilson, psychologist, participated with WFM Onsite Health Promotion Specialist Sarah Holick in 3-person panel on Wednesday to address questions about the benefits of Mindfulness for Stress Reduction and Overall Wellness.  The session focused on the “Science and Benefits” of Mindfulness and Meditation as part of WFM’s wellness initiative.

The 1-hour session began with a Mindful Eating practice where participants were served 3 types of fruit and instructed to approach the experience of eating the fruit as if it was the first time, even though common fruits of banana, apple and blueberry were used.  Participants reported noticing things they had never noticed before, such as how loud the apple sounded when chewed, how flavorful the banana is and how each blueberry has a different taste and the inside is NOT purple or blue (see for yourself.)

The panel was asked a series of questions related to the health benefits as well as how mindfulness and meditation impacts the brain and nervous system.  Common misconceptions, like “I can’t stop my thoughts so I’m not doing it right” were debunked as panelists explained that movement of the mind in the form of thoughts is one of 3 ways stress is released from the nervous system during meditation.

“Stress accumulates in our nervous system like dust accumulates on a coffee table.  Think of the table as your nervous system, dust as stress and meditating as the dust cloth.  If we have never dusted (i.e meditated,) the table will be full of dust.  Thoughts, body sensations and emotions may arise as a natural releasing of stress,” Thrash said.  After meditating for a period of time, the table is free of dust and the mind and nervous system will naturally settle.

The panel answered questions about brain science and as research reveals, both the structure and function of the brain changes with a consistent meditation practice.  Changes in the brains of meditators include more dense gray matter in the evolved hippocampus (learning and memory) and less density of gray matter in the limbic (reptilian) part of the brain, the amygdala responsible for our fight-or-flight response.  These brain-structure changes make it possible to respond mindfully vs. react impulsively to stressful or intense situations, which is one of the many benefits.

Team Members were encouraged by WFM senior managers to continue taking good care of themselves, especially in times where stress may be increased due to change.   “If our attention is on the past, future or other people (where we have no control) we tend to feel anxious, frustrated or depressed, which are some of the emotional affects of stress.  When we can ground our attention in the present moment by simply having our MIND FULL of what we’re doing while we are doing it, and connecting to where we do have control (how we respond to the present moment) that’s where Peace is found,” Thrash said.

For more information about incorporating PeaceBox health and wellness practices to improve productivity and decrease stress at your workplace, visit here.

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