Brain Booster: Bonnie Olechno
The important role mindfulness plays in brain health
When Bonnie Olechno broaches the fascinating subject of how mindfulness can affect our brain activity, her re-assuring voice rings with the sound of experience, expertise and, even more important to those dealing with issues of mental impairment, compassion.
At the Alzheimer Society of Oxford’s 4th annual Brain Booster Workshop & Expo in November she’ll bring with her 15 years of experience as a dedicated R.N. working at CMHA Oxford and crisis worker helping those in dire situations.
Her most recent role has been utilizing her training in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self Compassion, Mindfulness, Dialectical Behaviour Training and Somatic Experiencing helping a wide range of people from 18 to 80+ gain control of life-altering stress.
“With new science released to the public, much is difficult to learn so this is a great opportunity to take this science, reduce it to a simpler form so everyone understands and can practice it. Mindfulness is a beautiful modality for all, even sitting in a chair. You relax while letting go of your thoughts.”
In this role she introduces people to a unique form of awareness for developing a connection to their own personal source of guidance, comfort and well-being. In the present they experience what occurs in the body through seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touch.
As a teacher of dialectical behaviour therapy Bonnie has developed a program that teaches people the basics of mindfulness.
“Starting my Brain Booster presentation, I’ll ask people to purposely pay attention to present experiences in a non-judgemental way,” she explained. “The average brain has between 60-100,000 thoughts a day. Mindfulness teaches us to notice thoughts and the reaction in your body.
“Science focuses on three kinds of mind techniques. At this event I’ll show a picture of the brain, talking about letting go of your thoughts, coming into your breath and relaxing. After doing this 45-minutes daily for eight weeks, we’ll look at a picture of how the brain changes.”
Turning to the practice a loving-kindness meditation for eight weeks, she’ll show another photo of the results of this exercise.
“Letting go of your judgement, we’ll see a photo of a changed brain,” she continued. “Towards the end I’ll do a 10-minute mindfulness activity with everyone, leaving them an example of the first, second and third so they can feel and hear what it’s like to practice. They’ll be introduced to their breath and all their senses. Loving thoughts relax our body and change our brain.”
Dedicated to resolving trauma worldwide by providing state-of-the art professional training and public education in Somatic Experiencing, Bonnie is also part of a global trauma healing team. This gentle natural approach guides people to develop increasing tolerance for difficult bodily physiology and emotions.
“This is my first Brain Booster Workshop & Expo so I’m very excited to be participating,” she said. “It’s truly an honour to speak at this event because mindfulness is a new modality that has grown over the past decade.
“Our brain health at all ages is a vitally important matter that needs to be fully addressed. Mindfulness can play an integral role dealing with an issue that affects everyone.”
The 4th annual Brain Booster Workshop & Expo, a free public event, takes place 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, November 4, 2019 at Goff Hall. For more information please contact The Alzheimer Society of Oxford at 519-421-2466 or 1-877-594-2368 or email [email protected].