Mixing mindfulness with martial arts

·2 min read

Point in Time is partnering to remotely deliver a mental health martial arts program to kids and youth this month.

The charity is bringing back its Mindfulness Martial Arts and Young Warriors programs, which combine martial arts and yoga with behavioural therapy techniques. The programs, for ages 12-18 and 8-11 respectively, will be delivered online through the Youth Hub for the first time.

The courses will last 18 weeks. Point in Time Family Support’s Melanie Jones said mindfulness practices can be valuable at any time, but even more so at times such as during a pandemic.

“The program really focuses on bringing yourself to the present moment, being with uncomfortable feelings, uncomfortable thoughts and then not judging them,” Jones said. “Change how our thoughts impact us.”

The Mindfulness Martial Arts Program was adapted locally through Haliburton Highlands Secondary School in 2014 but was sidelined by the pandemic. Jones said organizers worked for months to find a way to deliver it remotely, collaborating recently with the Integra Child Development Institute for a new online model.

Kelly Outram is a martial arts instructor with K.O. Martial Arts who is teaching the course for the first time. He said the concept inspired him, as he used both mindfulness and martial arts to help overcome his mental health struggles. He added martial arts offers a good way to improve oneself and gain physical benefits as well.

“You recognize you’re able to do things you could only imagine doing when you started,” Outram said. “If you’re able to stay consistent about it, you get a lot of physical health benefits as well that also keep your mind fresh.”

The programs were previously delivered in-person, but Jones said there are some benefits to online delivery, including home comfort. Parents in the younger course will also take an active role in participation, she said.

With Point in Time also starting a campaign to address connectivity issues for youth in need, Jones said they are willing to work through internet problems.

“We’re willing to work with every family to try and eliminate all of those barriers, whatever they might be,” Jones said.

Outram said he had some reservations on the format, but there is plenty in martial arts that can be taught remotely, even without a partner. He added the mindfulness side of the program should translate well.

“Especially in this pandemic, which has given everyone a whole host of new stresses, and we need new ways to respond to these stresses,” Outram said. “Mindfulness practices is one of the best ways to do that.”

Young Warriors begins Feb. 23 while Mindfulness Martial Arts will have an information night Feb. 22. Information is available by contacting 705-457- 5345 or melaniej@pointintime.ca.

Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander