“Mindfulness helps in communicating on a day-to-day basis, no matter who you’re talking to. It could be a major work problem, a very personal problem, or a very risky kind of conversation. Being mindful is a tremendous asset. It helps you be present and eliminate judgment. I don’t think I’ve ever been so conscious of judgment as I have been since I started doing mindfulness practice. If somebody is telling you what’s going on in their lives, it causes you to listen more, rather than to second judge. We react according to what we are thinking, instead of stopping, listening, and then responding. Mindfulness puts reaction into context. It puts judgment into context. I am so glad I met Andrew Safer and was exposed to the mindfulness practice.”
—Dr. Edna Turpin ICD.D (Corporate Director)
“Growing up as a Buddhist, meditation was always a part of my life, but I struggled to apply it in the ways I hoped. After attending the weekly meditation practices and the six-week Mindfulness-Awareness workshop series with Andrew, I discovered the true purpose of meditation, and his guidance jumpstarted my journey to self-awareness.
I now understand what it feels like to be in the moment, practice non-judgemental thinking and calm my anxieties. Having the weekly practices and workshop was my saviour; it gave me the structure I needed, a safe environment to share my experiences and the mental tools to face anxieties during my clinicals. These tools have shown me that self-awareness has a tremendous effect on your life and the only way to be in touch with yourself is to be mindful and make mindful decisions especially with the high stress and responsibility that nurses endure.
I could not have done it without Andrew’s unwavering commitment to help others and his expertise as a mindfulness instructor. I am eternally grateful.”
–Kelly Aung (3rd Year Accelerated Nursing Student)
Regarding the Navigating Anxiety and Stress through Mindfulness workshop series Evaluation Summary (Fall 2014), “The table that showed the Pre-/Post-Comparison indicates that your participants made dramatic gains.
“The findings in the Evaluation Statement table impressed me. It is remarkable how 8 sessions over 2 months can produce so much learning and positive change. You just don’t see this kind of personal growth with other teachings and therapies. I think policy makers and program people would be remiss not to include this kind of course as a structural component of all mental health programming.”
—Paul March, Mental Health Coordinator, Promotion and Prevention Services, Mental Health and Addictions Services, Eastern Health.
“Our main service is a 24-Hour Crisis Support and Information Line (1-800-726-2743). This line is staffed 24/7 by many dedicated volunteers who receive extensive training and coordination. As staff, an important aspect of volunteer coordination is ensuring volunteers are engaging in self-care and that they feel appreciated. We hired Andrew to facilitate an hour session for our Crisis Line Volunteers – the session was full of inspiring information and provided experiential learning opportunities. We left the workshop feeling more self-aware, relaxed and inspired. Andrew has a very calming approach and facilitation style and I would absolutely recommend his mindfulness training.”
—Kayla Follett, Outreach Coordinator, Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre
“It became clear to me that I could control where my mind went, just like I control where my body goes. For me, it’s like going to the mental gym and helping me be mentally fit as well as physically fit. It allows me to get rid of the fog in my mind, see where I really am, and choose where I go rather than just drift there.”
—Dan Walker, PhD, P. Eng, Associate Professor of Ocean and Naval Architectural Engineering
“I was very thankful to have the opportunity to offer Mindfulness to students at our high school. We have seen an increase in anxiety and depression among teenagers and it is important that schools are able to recognize and offer programs to provide help. Many students commented they found the course valuable and that it taught them the importance of living in the moment. As well I had the opportunity to attend after school sessions along with a group of students and experienced first hand the peacefulness of mindfulness meditation. Thanks, Andrew, for bringing Mindfulness to our school!”
—Bridget Ricketts, Principal, Bishops College
“I first met Andrew Safer two years ago when I attended a six-week Mindfulness-Awareness workshop series. I continue to attend group mindfulness-awareness meditation practice that is offered weekly, and other workshops or retreats throughout the year. I have personally benefitted in many ways through my introduction to mindfulness-awareness meditation and continue to work on bringing my attention to the present, relating to thoughts non-judgmentally, and using mindfulness tools to deal with stress and difficult emotions.
I work with youth in the St. John’s area and have seen a dramatic increase in anxiety, substance use/addictions, and other mental health issues. Mindfulness-Awareness can provide tools for youth dealing with the pressures and pace of today’s world. Instead of avoidance or escape, youth can find ways to stay grounded in this rapidly changing world.
I recommended a number of youths dealing with challenges to a small group program offered by Andrew. The benefits were tangible and striking. They learned to acknowledge their thoughts and emotions; disengage from storylines in the past and the future – stay present; be less judgmental and more accepting of themselves. I participated in a couple of sessions and was impressed with the connection Andrew had established with them, as well as the sense of group connection. Complex concepts were explained in plain language and the students were given effective tools they could use in everyday life.
Andrew Safer’s knowledge, commitment and dedication have made a significant contribution to the community of St. John’s.”
—Lori Fritz, Educator
“I began the practice of mindfulness meditation about three years ago. At that time I was experiencing a high level of anxiety on a daily basis. For me, the anxiety manifested in feelings of extreme nervousness or excitement, deep fatigue, erratic sleep patterns, inability to make decisions or concentrate, mental fogginess, and a general feeling of insecurity. Most distressing to me was what I think of as the “mental churning” that I experienced…..having persistent fearful, self-critical, worrisome thoughts that I could get “stuck” on. These “thought loops” generated more intensity in the physical signs of anxiety.
In the beginning, my interest in meditation was not related to my concerns about anxiety. However, very early on in my practice of mindfulness meditation, I began to notice a gradual and significant reduction in my anxiety, and an increase in my ability to focus and enjoy life in a state of well-being.
On a physical level, the practice of sitting, breathing deeply and naturally, and simply paying attention to my body causes physical relaxation. Tension dissolves.
On an internal basis, the process of simply observing and then “letting go” of thoughts made me realize that I can, in fact, exercise the choice not to attach to intrusive or disturbing thoughts. I can just let them come up and float away. This practice of “letting go” of thoughts extends itself beyond the times when I am meditating. When I do pay attention to my breath, it really supports not getting involved in whatever is passing through my head.
The benefits that I have derived from mindfulness meditation began to happen almost immediately. Within a couple of months there was a dramatic improvement in my overall sense of well-being, happiness, and health.
—Anne Malone, Disabilities Advocate
“Getting to know and becoming best friends with my anxiety, fear and panic attacks and depression is a new concept for me. We are always trying to get rid of our discomforts. Cover them up (drugs, food, shopping, gossip, etc.) and deny them. Now, this was/ is in no way easy for me. Anyone who’s suffered these anxieties and fears, will know what I mean. But I am beginning to really grasp the idea that suffering is a part of life, and that there is a way through suffering. This is not to be mistaken or taken out of context. It is not to say life is miserable so why bother; it’s a more kind and gentle approach to suffering.
So I can either run from it or I can face it. But even more than that, I can embrace it. For me, it is literally like having this friend stuck with you who you despise and hate, but can absolutely learn to live with, and even love. You can be with this friend day in and day out and see that she /he is not the enemy. The friend you have despised,, it turns out, is your way through. There are days when I am thanking her for reminding me to embrace her.”
—Deborah Jackman, Artist
“I first became acquainted with mindfulness and awareness practice about two years ago. I had experienced the sudden loss of a loved one. My life abruptly changed and my security pattern was threatened. This caused extreme grief and I experienced a sense of anxiety and panic that I never knew existed in me.
Immediately, I sought counselling and, six months later, it was suggested that I would probably benefit from the Mindfulness and Awareness course being offered by Andrew Safer. I loved the course. I learned so many skills to help. My family could see changes in me.
I was finding it very difficult to live in the present without my loved one. I also learned that “now” or “the present” is really all I have. I know that the closer I get to accepting the reality of “now”, the less I will suffer.
Mindfulness and awareness and the shamatha meditation practice have taught me how to stay grounded and present. I know that thoughts are just thoughts and it’s up to me how much emotion I give to them.”
—Cathy Conway, Retired Educator
Read what participants had to say about the relevance and impact of the Navigating Anxiety and Stress through Mindfulness workshop series, on completion of the program. On the second page of this PDF, read what participants said about the relevance and impact of the Mindfulness in Recovery workshop series (for people with addictions), seven months after completing the program: Anxiety and Recovery Participant Comments PDF June 24 15
It was my last hope. During the few weeks before contacting Andrew Safer, I had been inquiring about Dying With Dignity. For more than 40 years, I had spent time in mental hospitals, attended workshops, seminars, courses, discussion groups, self-help groups…anything–ANYTHING–that would ease my relentless mental and emotional torture. From the age of 9, trauma ruled my life.
With age, it intensified. Each morning, an emotional assault waited for me when I woke from sleep. I needed to end it. Then a friend told me about a mindfulness/meditation group. Still waiting for more information from Dying with Dignity, I reluctantly decided to go to just one session. That turned into many more; and–almost right away–I felt a change…a calmness…even a small light of hope. Soon, my days and nights became oriented toward others; and my own distress became almost manageable. Today, I am still working toward awakening…and–for now–Dying With Dignity is on hold.