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Rachel Gilbertson  
Rachel Gilbertson teaches Mindfulness in Motion at UMD  
   

Balancing being a mom, going to graduate school, and working as UMD’s health coach and health educator, Rachel Gilbertson frequently found her thoughts bouncing between her lengthy to do list and being distracted by the past, without a lot of focus on the present.

Today, she’s more aware of "the now" thanks to an increased ability to be mindful. “Mindfulness reminds me to take a deep breath, slow down, and soak in the moments. I don’t want to miss my life.”

Rachel practices what she preaches. She’s one of the instructors of UMD’s Mindfulness in Motion, an eight-week class designed specifically for employees. “It offers pragmatic resiliency tools that are easily implemented in the workplace to reduce daily stress and increase productivity,” explains Rachel.

UMD is one of few universities in the nation offering Mindfulness in Motion, making it an innovative institution when it comes to holistic health for its employees. It was offered for the first time at UMD and at the U of M this past fall.

The program was developed by Dr. Maryanna Klatt at the Ohio State University College of Medicine and was designed to help people reduce stress where the stress occurs. “This program helps you accept that you won’t always have control of situations, but we do have a choice as to how we respond to them,” says Rachel.

Each week a theme is introduced, there’s a short group discussion and presentation, and the class concludes with 20 minutes of relaxation, gentle stretching, and yoga chair session.

Rachel taught the fall 2013 class and collected testimonials from her students. One, who wishes to remain anonymous, found a significant reduction in the number of migraines she was having because of her work on mindfulness:

When I look back at my workbook notes from the beginning, I was having two to three migraines per week. As I took the final survey, I realized I'd only had one in 10 days. So if you get the chance to take this wonderful program, I suggest you snap it up! And as research is discovering, we need not even 'believe' in the practice for it to have a positive effect, just set aside our judgments, and do it.

Anecdotes like this are backed up by science. A 2009 study by Klatt, Buckworth, and Malarkey found that significant reductions were made in perceptions of stress, improved sleep quality, and the ability to acquire “present-centered attention awareness.”

Mindfulness in Motion is offered by the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality & Healing. UMD’s next Mindfulness in Motion class will be offered on Thursdays starting January 30. Employees who are UPlan members are eligible for reimbursement and Wellness Points. Registration and more information can be found here.

Story by Lori C. Melton

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