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An Evening with Friends — Recap of Sound Mind: A Celebration of Mindfulness and Mental Health through Fiction, Memoir, and Music

By B.A. Tanner

A piece of paper with the word "mindfulness" on it leaning against a window

On the Thursday evening of March 28, room 1050 of the Earth Sciences Centre at University of Toronto (UofT) swelled with the comforting sounds of meditative gong notes, honest conversation, and an impressive cello performance.

Sharing the stage were Ranjini George, Rebecca Higgins, and Erika Nielsen, once again bringing together Editors Toronto, Canadian Authors–Toronto, and the Creative Writing Program at the School of Continuing Studies, University of Toronto (SCS–UofT), to deliver an inspirational and informative panel discussion. These three talented women used their life experiences to tackle the tough subject matter of mental health and wellness as it applies to freelance artists.

The program started with an introduction by Lee Parpart, programs chair of Editors Toronto and co-president of Canadian Authors–Toronto, then moved to the first speaker of the night: Ranjini George, who teaches courses on mindfulness, meditation, and creative writing at the SCS–UofT.

Ranjini addressed the need for freelance writers, editors, and artists to foster mental and physical well-being while they manage numerous projects with various deadlines. Referencing the stories from her 2016 book Through My Mother’s Window: Emirati Women Tell their Stories and Recipes, she talked about her own experiences working in the field of mental wellness and encouraged everyone to practise mindfulness regularly. Ranjini explained how sound can be used to help centre the self and control our continuous wave of thoughts. Treating the crowd to the sounding of the gong, combined with several moments of meditation and deep breathing, she left us with the simple but powerful reminder to “Breathe. Be present.”

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