Ottawa, KS is Becoming the First Mindful City in the Nation

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November 26, 2018 (Ottawa, KS) – One percent of the population has trained in mindfulness through a course offered by Ransom Memorial Health, the local hospital. Course alumni who staff local service organizations are, in turn, applying mindfulness in their work with clients. These organizations include the Elizabeth Layton (community mental health) Center, the Willow Domestic Violence Center, ECKAN, the City of Ottawa, Prairie Paws Animal Shelter and Ransom Memorial Health.

Mindfulness is the practice of bringing awareness to present moment experience while responding in a relaxed-but-ready way to life rather than reacting stressfully in the body, emotions, and thoughts. Ransom Memorial Health provides an intensive 8-week course in Stress Management based on Mindfulness Meditation to enhance the physical, mental, and social health of the community. The fee is low, at $100, to make the course broadly affordable. “The course is for everyone in the community,” said Matt Heyn, President/CEO of Ransom Memorial Health. “We encourage leaders in all areas of the community to take the course, not only because it benefits them, but because mindful leaders positively affect their organizations and everyone they have contact with.” Research backs this up, showing that mindful bosses have happier employees.

Leaders in the city meet monthly to work on building a mindful community. They include the City Manager, a representative of Ottawa University, and the President/CEO of the hospital, Community Mental Health Center, and Chamber of Commerce. Their organizations and many others have paid for employees to attend. “Research shows that mindfulness increases productivity, decreases burnout, and increases job satisfaction,” said William Hale, M.D., course instructor. “Beyond considerations of the bottom line, however, people who practice mindfulness develop skill in being able to flow comfortably with the stressors of life rather than being swept away by them. Mindfulness doesn’t remove external stressors, of course, but it helps people manage their stress reactions,” said Richard Nienstedt, City Manager. “It helps us let go of the everyday stressors of life and work, so that’s better for the family and coworkers around us.”

Dates of the next course are January 22 – March 12, 2019.

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