Mindfulness Festival for Well Being Oct. 24

When Trish Miele gets off a phone call, she doesn’t say “goodbye.” Instead, she advises, “be well.” As a licensed teacher and tutor, Miele has come into the practice of leading a “mindful” life. She co-founded the New York Open Mindfulness Festival and is soon bringing a fest to Princeton.

With Princeton Public Schools having “wellness and balance” as one of its primary goals in the new strategic plan, a festival about well being may be just what the doctor, or PTO, ordered. Miele has dedicated her career to training teachers, guidance counselors, support staff, parents and children about how to be mindful. The festival will offer insights into this through experience-based activities.

“Many people ask, ‘What is mindfulness?’ The festival is a great way to address that question,” Miele said. “Our communities are so much more driven by experiences rather than ‘here’s a PowerPoint.’ For instance, there will be a speaker discussing what it is to eat mindfully – how much we can benefit from just slowing down and eating.”

The festival, on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 2 to 4:30 p.m., will begin with a 30-minute introduction by the various “experience leaders” who will each host activities simultaneously, and this will give attendees an opportunity to choose what they want to drop in on.

Attendees can choose from Mindful Movement led by Fran Swart, Mindful Eating led by Ayami Yamamichi, Mindful Parenting led by Karen Cohen, Miele or Blair Crowley, Mindful Art led by Carmen Williams – which will include guided creativity and coloring for both children and adults – and Mindful Therapy Offerings/Options led by Dr. Mark Cooperberg. Miele will provide a plethora of mindfulness resources to explore and from which to learn.

“There will also be a presentation on managing your child’s difficult emotions, monitoring your own reaction and becoming more aware of that interaction,” Miele said. “It can help so much to learn to pause, take a couple breaths and come out of that reactive state to make a more rational, driven choice,” Miele said.

Miele explained that mindfulness is something to adapt to, not something you need to set aside time for each day or practice, practice, practice.

“There’s no real right way to mindful,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just being aware. If you’re on a walk in nature and you just really feel jazzed, that’s mindfulness. It’s just normalizing that feeling and bringing it into the mainstream.”

Miele sees evidence of individuals, schools and communities opening the door to the idea of mindfulness, whether through self-exploration, religious pursuit, scientific methods, exercise or yoga, education and “everyday living.” She is working with Village Charter School of Trenton to make it the first “Mindful School” in the state. Beginning with afterschool programs, the school is evolving to “address the whole child, a notion that has fallen by the wayside.”

“I do an activity where I have everyone turn on their cell phones and let them ring. It’s crazy to experience the narrative that races through your head when you don’t answer and the physical responses you wouldn’t normally notice,” Miele said. “This is about building awareness. Mindfulness takes us out of being on autopilot.”

The Mindfulness Festival for Well-Being will take place indoors this Saturday, Oct. 24 at the Princeton Speech-Language & Learning Center, 19 Wall St. There is a $15 charge, which Miele said is “less than an hour drop-in yoga class.” She welcomes all residents of the Princeton area to come discover a start to wellness, balance and being mindful.

“Come here and give it a try!”


About Erica Chayes Wida

Erica Chayes Wida is a writer, mom, and complete zealot when it comes to poetry, paella and globe collections. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, Erica moved to Italy where the seasons and old architecture inspired her journey back to the East Coast. Since then, she and her husband have created a nest egg locally and, over time, developed a rather grand love affair with the town of Princeton. Erica is senior editor at The Princeton Sun and enjoys fulfilling her Princeton affections on a daily basis. | View all posts by Erica Chayes Wida