Having a personal interest in the benefits of meditation, and having attended AXON’s mindfulness training course, my colleague Shanida and I volunteered our ‘Giving 10’ to Meditatio, the outreach of the World Community for Christian Meditation, founded in 1991. Meditatio drives various initiatives, including one that focuses on meditation and mental health, which has been active for over 3 years. A dedicated team of volunteers has accomplished a number of commendable achievements, including running seminars and meditation retreats, publishing booklets and creating the Meditatio Journal of Mental Health. Despite its origin, Meditatio activities have attracted individuals from a diverse range of beliefs and professions, including scientific researchers, Buddhists and psychiatrists – all of whom have an interest in the benefits that meditation can bring to mental well-being.

You might be wondering what the link is between meditation and mental health? In simple terms, meditation reduces stress levels. Stress and disease are intimately intertwined, which is why meditation can bring health benefits to patients with conditions that are exacerbated by stress (cardiovascular disease, cancer, addiction, psychological disorders and chronic diseases). Integrating the practice of meditation into patient care could benefit and support our healthcare system by providing a simple technique that patients can easily use to help lessen the burden of disease and improve general health. This is the primary focus of the Meditatio – Meditation and Mental Health initiative.

As with many non-profit organizations that rely on the availability of volunteers, the Meditatio -Meditation and Mental Health team has not had the opportunity to meet regularly in order to align their thoughts and identify goals for the initiative. We therefore decided to run a strategy workshop for them to bring about this alignment. The workshop started with acknowledging the group’s many accomplishments and reflecting on the success of each item. Then we identified the group’s strengths and weaknesses, and the different target audiences within the mental health sector with whom they should be targeting with their communications. The group then had the opportunity to daydream about what they would like to have achieved in a year from now, helping to distil the group’s vision for 2014. The result was outlining a 5-step advocacy building and training initiative in order to raise awareness of the benefits of meditation amongst healthcare professionals practicing in the area of mental health.

The Meditatio volunteers left the workshop feeling energised, inspired and confident about the agreed 2014 plans. We look forward to seeing their great achievements in the months to come! You never know – your doctor might be prescribing you a daily meditation routine in the very near future.

Britt Akermann