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Mental Health Week 2024

Honouring Our Sacredness from Within


May 6-12, 2024, is the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Mental Health Week. Throughout the week, the Ontario Native Women's Association (ONWA) is supporting mental health with a series of teachings and mindfulness activities that honour the sacredness within.


Highlights

Learn more, reflect on the teachings, and explore the mindfulness activities (click to jump to section):


 

Supports


Talk4Healing


Beendigen’s Talk4Healing Helpline offers help, support, and resources 24/7 in 14 languages.


Call or text 1-855-554-HEAL (4325) and live support will be there to listen, any time of day. Click on our live chat option and start your session to begin your path to healing at https://www.beendigen.com/programs/talk4healing/



ONWA Mental Health and Community Programs


Learn more about ONWA's programs and services: https://www.onwa.ca/services


Contact ONWA:

Telephone: 1-800-667-0816

​Hours of Operation: Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm


 

Monday, May 6 - Press Release



Honouring Our Sacredness from Within


ONWA is honouring and promoting awareness about Mental Health Awareness in alignment with the CMHA Mental Health Week campaign.



 

Tuesday, May 7



Focus: “Replenish, Renew, and Recenter Yourself”


In the hustle and bustle of life, find moments to pause and embrace the power of replenishment, renewal, and recentering. Take a step back, breathe, and focus on nurturing your mental health. You matter. Remember, self-care isn't selfish, it's necessary.


 

Teaching: Flower Moon



The Flower Moon is the time for healing and cleansing. During this moon, we begin again, acknowledging the time for replenishing our spirit. It is the time we feast our bundles and recharge, readying ourselves for the coming moons. It is when we prepare our gardens for the planting of seeds, knowing what is to come.


Learn more about the Thirteen Grandmother Moons at: https://www.onwa.ca/full-moon-ceremony


 

Mindfulness Activity: May Moon Meditation



Amidst the noise of the world, meditation offers a sacred pause. Embrace stillness, calm the chatter, and cultivate mental clarity. With each breath, find solace, clarity, and resilience. Let go of stress, invite serenity, and embark on a journey of self-discovery.


 

Wednesday, May 8


Focus: “Connection to Ancestor, Self, and Community”



Cultivating mental well-being is a journey of connection—to our ancestors, ourselves, and our community. Let's honor our ancestors, embrace self-discovery, and uplift our communities.


 

Teaching: Tobacco (Sehmah)



The gift of Tobacco is communication. It is used as an offering for everything and in every ceremony; for seeking help and advice, for expressing gratitude, and for harvesting medicines. During challenging times, we can offer tobacco to the Creator and ask for help and advice; or to thank him for the good things we have in our lives.


 

Mindfulness Activity: Tobacco Offering for Mother Earth



During this day, how can we be kind to mother earth? For this activity, take a small handful of tobacco and go out to the land and place it down under a tree or in a spot that you feel is calling you today. Notice why you were called to this space.


What is the tobacco and land telling you?


 

Thursday, May 9


Focus: “Kindness to Yourself and Others”



In the journey of mental health, kindness is both the destination and the path. Kindness is a gift we can give freely—to others and to ourselves. Be gentle with yourself and radiate that same kindness to those around you.


 

Teaching: Sweetgrass (Weengush)



Sweetgrass has a calming effect and is used for smudging and to purify the spirit. It is considered the sacred hair of Mother Earth, its braid and sweet aroma remind people of the gentleness, love, and kindness she has for the people.


 

Mindfulness Activity: Spreading Kindness and Love



Sweetgrass is a kindness medicine. Take some time to spread kindness and love to others and to yourself. Remember, you don’t know what others are going through in their daily lives. Give compassion and love, and you will attract those good energies back to yourself.


How do you show kindness to yourself and others?


 

Friday, May 10


Focus: “Release What Does Not Belong to You”



In the journey of mental well-being, sometimes the bravest act is to release what does not belong to you. Release what weighs heavy on your heart—whether it's past pain, future worries, or the expectations of others. Create space for healing, growth, and self-love.


 

Teaching: Sage (Sukodawabuk)



Sage is used in ceremonies, in traditional healing, and to cleanse homes, sacred items and individuals. It can help release what is troubling the mind & remove negative energy.


 

Mindfulness Activity: Removing negative energy through journaling or mindful breathing



To begin, take your sage and place it in your smudge bowl (if you have it with you) or place some in the palm of your hand. Begin by taking a long, slow breath and notice the feeling of air moving in through your nose, going down the back of your throat and into your lungs. Take another breath and watch what happens in your body as you inhale and exhale. Keep breathing and watching. Notice the sensations in your body as you breathe and begin to connect to Mother Earth beneath you.


Now turn your attention to what you feel emotionally. Look inside and find the emotion you are experiencing right now. Or find an emotion that you felt recently. Notice whether the emotion is a good or bad feeling. Notice if it is pleasant or unpleasant. Just keep your attention on the feeling until you have a sense of it. Pause here for a minute or maybe write it down if that is helpful for you.


Now look for words to describe the emotion. For example, is it elation, contentment, or excitement? Is it sadness, anxiety, shame, or loss? Whatever it is, keep watching and describing the emotion in your mind. Notice any change in the feeling and describe what’s different. If any distractions or thoughts come to mind, do your best to let them go without getting stuck on them. Notice if your feeling is intensifying or diminishing and describe what that’s like. Pause here for a minute or maybe write it down if that is helpful for you.


Keep observing your emotions and letting go of distractions. Keep looking for words to describe the slightest change in the quality or intensity of your feeling. If other emotions begin to weave in, continue to describe them. If your emotion changes into an altogether new emotion, just keep observing it and finding the words to describe it.


Thoughts, physical sensations, and other distractions will try to grab your attention. Notice them, let them go, and return your focus to your emotions. Stay with it. Continue observing it. Keep going until you’ve observed your emotion or change diminish. Notice anything else that you wrote in your journal or anything you noticed throughout this activity.


Tip: You can record yourself following the instructions of this exercise and repeat whenever you are looking to let go of negative energy that you may be experiencing. 


 

Saturday, May 11


Focus: “Keeping Yourself Safe”



Prioritize your mental health by keeping yourself safe—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Set boundaries, seek support, and trust your instincts. Your well-being is worth protecting. You deserve to feel safe and supported in every aspect of your life.


 

Teaching: Cedar (Keezhik)



It is said that Cedar has protection powers, that a guardian spirit lives amongst it and will chase away bad spirits. Cedar is used in ceremonies to purify and cleanse the body, mind, heart, and spirit.


 

Mindfulness Activity: “What is your Safety Plan?”



Having an effective safety plan is beneficial. It helps guide and support individuals who are experiencing thoughts of suicide and crisis to ensuring their well-being and safety. Safety plans are to be done when an individual is not experiencing a crisis or suicidal thoughts and can be supported by a professional or trusted person. Take a break during the writing of your safety plan if any overwhelming feelings come up. Safety plans are focused on an individual’s strengths and identifying supports and strategies to help when a crisis occurs.



Tip: If your feeling unwell, try a cedar bath to help heal your body or try cedar tea for cleansing, purification or energy. Cedar baths are used to cleanse yourself from any negative energy, heal your body, provide protection and help improve your well-being.


For more information on cedar tea, check on ONWA Tea Recipes Booklet:


Tea Recipes Booklet _ v3 (2023-May)
.pdf
Download PDF • 755KB

 

Sunday, May 12



The Medicine Wheel teaches us that our wellbeing is best when the four dimensions/directions of self (body, mind, heart, and spirit) are healthy and in balance. The restoration and maintenance of Indigenous women’s mental wellbeing is integral to the wellbeing of themselves, their families and community.


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