Local group working to create a Centre for Mindfulness in Muskoka

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A group of people who have a passion for meditation, mindfulness and bringing peace into the lives of others are currently in the process of creating a Centre for Mindfulness right here in Muskoka.

“To me mindfulness is being aware in the present moment with kindness and without judgement. It changed my life,” said Jiana Cutting. “I want to share that with people and have a place to go to locally that supports my practice. We are all about being inclusive and helping people get to that happier place.”

Cutting and Nancy Atkinson-Tiessen came up with the idea after attending many meditation classes, going to retreat centres and seeing the benefits of having somewhere local where people can practice their meditation.

“If you’re not mindful you’re living in the past or in the future. You’re not in the present at all. Regardless of what that looks like, you’re experiencing everything as it’s happening,” said Cutting.

The Centre for Mindfulness Muskoka (CMM) committee’s vision is to “be an inclusive and thriving retreat centre for curious mindful and contemplative practices offered in beautiful Muskoka.” That’s complemented by their mission to “provide a space where mindfulness-based interventions can be offered to guide and support the journey from suffering to awareness.”

They will “operate with compassion, inclusiveness and integrity to foster education and connection.”

Other similar centres include True North Insight in Ottawa and Insight Meditation Society in the US, two of the retreat centres that inspired Cutting to start one in this community.

As there are no like centres between Sudbury and Orangeville, the group thought Muskoka would be the perfect location.

The Centre for Mindfulness will have residential (overnight) retreats, mindfulness programs, mindfulness groups, yoga classes and more, and will be open to everyone of all ages.

“Not only would the centre offer us a home for the sangha but it would offer a space for hosting other like-minded groups,” said Cutting. “Once you’ve gotten into the practice you want to meet a community of like-minded people you can share it with.” A sangha is a group of mindfulness practitioners who meet to practice and learn mindfulness together. Many of the people involved in the Centre for Mindfulness Muskoka are part of a local sangha that meets every Wednesday evening.

The Centre for Mindfulness Muskoka is now an incorporated not-for-profit organization and the committee has completed writing its bylaws. They are applying for their charitable status in the near future.

Cutting says when the original discussion was brought up in April there were a number of people from all over Muskoka who stepped forward to be on the board. Current board members include Jiana Cutting, Nancy Atkinson-Tiessen, Maureen Shipton, Sarah Carlin-Bell, Leanna Zylstra-Bigwood, Bill Knight, Sandy Inkster, and Nicole Moore.

The board currently has no timeline for opening the retreat centre. Next year will be dedicated to fundraising. In January the committee is launching founding memberships for 75 people, all of whom will be members for life.

Everyone is invited to get involved, even those who are beginners to mindfulness and meditation.

“Once you start meditating you realize how amazing it is and how much it really works and you keep wanting to do more and more. There is so much benefit to a concentrated retreat centre,” said Cutting.

They are also considering hosting a mindfulness festival in the summer but a date and location have not yet been confirmed.

You can donate to the centre here.

There are three vacancies for board member positions. Email [email protected] if you are interested in being involved.

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