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“Free the Mind”

On August 2nd Film Streams at The Ruth Sokolof Theater partnered with Mindfulness Outreach Initiative to screen the documentary, “Free the Mind,” which was followed by a panel discussion and guided meditation. The film follows Professor Richard J. Davidson, a world renowned neuroscientist, who studies the use of meditation, breathing, and mindfulness as an alternative treatment to depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder.

Davidson’s research participants included an Iraq and an Afghanistan war veteran, as well as a preschool child, all whom have experienced severe levels of trauma. We watched as all three individuals dive headfirst into their traumatic pasts on a daring journey into the depths of the human brain.

Throughout the documentary they begin incorporating Davidson’s breathing and meditation techniques into their daily lives, and we begin to see a gradual change in their perceptions and reactions to outside stimulus.

The expert panel included Nonprofit Association of the Midlands Chief Executive Officer Anne Hindery; Mindfulness Outreach Initiative Founder and Executive Director Johnathan Woodside; Dr. Terry North, Director of the PTSD program at the Nebraska-Western Iowa VA Medical Center; and Elizabeth Figueroa, a public school teacher with 26 years of experience incorporating mindfulness in the classroom.

Figueroa discussed ways to incorporate mediation into the classroom to help improve children’s ability to refocus and lower anxiety. She has her students practice breathing and meditation for 2-3 minutes after lunch every day. Woodside introduced local mindfulness resources and described some of the additional benefits to practicing including improved physical health, stress management, and improved emotional intelligence.

For more information on mindfulness practice, go to to learn more.

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Jill Hamilton, Project Coordinator, The Kim Foundation

Jill Hamilton has been the Project Coordinator at The Kim Foundation since 2014. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations from The University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. Since working at the foundation, she has become an active member of the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition, Nebraska LOSS Advisory Committee, The Omaha Metro Hoarding Taskforce, The Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, Nebraska State Conference Planning Committee, is Chair of the Nebraska LOSS Teams Conference Planning Committee, and serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the Metro Area LOSS Team.