Man brushing his teeth

The essence of mindfulness is recognizing that the present moment is all we can control. This is done by resting our attention on the present, focusing on our breath or other bodily sensations and returning to the present when our mind wanders. These simple practices can create more happiness and joy in our lives.

Mindfulness has many benefits. Mindfulness enhances emotional well-being, reducing stress and anxiety. It also improves focus, leading to better decision-making and overall mental clarity. Mindfulness can also have other health benefits like regulating inflammation and sleep as well as reducing blood pressure.

So how can you practice mindfulness? Mindfulness can be practiced in numerous ways throughout the day. It doesn’t even require much time. Here are some ways to practice being mindful in your everyday activities:

  • You can be mindful in the car. Focus on the steering wheel in your hand, the vibration of the vehicle or the sound of the vehicle.
  • When you’re making the bed, feel the texture of the bedspread, the softness of the sheets, and the firmness of the mattress or pillow.
  • When you’re in the shower or bath, feel the water on your skin. Notice the smell of the soap and texture of the bubbles of the soap on the skin. Acknowledge the warmth or coolness of the water.
  • If you’re eating, take in the sensation of biting into food along with the taste or texture of the food. Be aware of how the food feels in your mouth and how it feels swallowing the food.
  • When you’re brushing your teeth, feel the bristles of the toothbrush against the gums and teeth. Recognize the texture and taste of the toothpaste.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in daily activities that we forget to focus on the present moment. Focusing on tasks or responsibilities from the past or future can prevent us from being in the present.

When you’re in a conversation, being mindful can lead to better communication and understanding. Check out these tips for better mindful communication:

Sometimes during the day, we may get stressed or overwhelmed with work or life burdens. We might need to recenter. One way to relieve this stress is by going outside and being grounded in nature. Watch this video and discover the benefits of being mindful while being in nature:

NCHPAD Mindfulness Curriculum Coordinator Emily Hornsby shared these benefits and tips for being mindful throughout the day:

Mindfulness is paying attention to what is going on in and around you moment by moment without judgment. Another way of thinking about mindfulness is being in “the flow.” When you are engaged in an activity just for the sake of being engaged in that activity, and you are not thinking about the future or ruminating about the past, you are in “the flow.”

You can practice mindfulness, or being in “the flow,” in your everyday activities like washing the dishes, taking a shower or taking a walk in nature. When you are paying attention to the way the warm soapy water feels on your hands when you are washing dishes, and how the sponge feels in your hand as you clean the dishes, you are mindfully washing dishes.

When you are taking a walk in nature and you pay attention to the sound of the breeze when it blows through leaves on a tree, or the smell of honeysuckle, or the sound of birds or squirrels scurrying on the ground, you are taking a mindful walk in nature.

When thoughts come into your awareness, you acknowledge them without judgment, and then decide whether you want to rest your attention on that thought or if you would rather let that thought go like a cloud in the sky and return to the present moment.

Practicing mindfulness in your everyday activities retrains your brain as you are creating new neural pathways towards more joy and happiness. We are happiest when we are present and not thinking or worrying. Try mindfulness in your everyday activities and see how it goes!

You can learn more about mindfulness through our website articles and videos on YouTube

A yellow background with a paper cutout of a human head with gears turning over the brain area.

Mental Health includes so many aspects of our overall well-being. The way we think, feel, move and act are all impacted by our mind. 

Do you ever ignore your mental wellbeing until you feel angry or sad? Giving your mental health a boost doesn’t have to be reserved for when things are going wrong. Mental health exercises can and should be done any time. They help you stay refreshed and have a clear and positive outlook in life!

Here are some helpful resources to support mental health and wellbeing provided by the NCHPAD GROWTH team!


  • CDC Mental Health
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have created several helpful resources for coping with stress, such as mental health quizzes, information for mental health in teens and children, and more!
  • Mental Health America
    • Mental Health America is a leader in creating positive change for individuals with mental health conditions. With helpful videos, toolkits, data and podcasts, you can learn more about the facts behind mental health!
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
    • NAMI is a great resource to learn more about a broad range of topics, including mental health conditions, warning signs, support groups and advocacy.
  • National Institute of Mental Health
    • NIH covers a wide range of mental health topics with helpful information to help individuals understand certain mental health conditions, treatments, symptoms and more.


  • Insight Timer
    • Insight Timer is an app that covers a wide range of helpful resources about sleep health, mental health and more. With informative blogs about mental health and guided meditations, Insight Timer could be a great app to try in your daily routines!
  • Headspace
    • Headspace is an app with content primarily focused on mindfulness, mental health and sleep. They also have helpful articles and resources that cover many different topics within mental health!


  • 6 Mindfulness Exercises That Each Take Less Than 1 Minute
    • This blog from Psychology Today covers several mini-mindfulness exercises to try from anywhere and on your own time. These exercises are not like typical meditations, instead, they focus more on being present and noticing physical and emotional feelings.
  • Mindful.org
    • Mindful has many great articles about guided meditations, meditations on podcasts, links to courses and helpful guides.
  • Mindfulnessexercises.com
    • Mindfulness Exercises is loaded with great mindfulness and meditation practices with videos and audio on the site. Receive guided meditations from several different meditation experts and learn more about the science behind meditation in their articles.


  • Mindfulness Mode by Bruce Langford
    • This website has good links to podcasts and mindfulness, meditation and sleep. You can also find links to books about mindfulness, downloadable tools and helpful blogs!
  • Tara Brach
    • Tara Brach is a well-known mindfulness meditation teacher who focuses on spiritual practices and having full engagement with our world. The website has links to mindfulness courses and communities with other individuals who are interested in mindfulness!


  • Mental Health Screeners
    • These online screening tools come from Mental Health America to determine your symptoms and help lead you to a further discussion with your healthcare provider if needed. You can also learn more about several different mental health conditions as well.
  • CDC Explore Your Emotions
    • Our mind is a complex thing! Sometimes we may feel certain feelings and not know why. The CDC’s Explore Your Emotions resource can help you take a deep dive into what you’re feeling and what you can do about it and get helpful resources along the way.
  • Psychology Tools

Finding Treatment

Searching for treatment, a psychologist or a psychiatrist? Visit these sites and find local support.

Mental Health Awareness Month. Be Kind to Your Mind. An illustration of a jumbled line at the top of the graphic to symbolize a busy mind.

The #BeKindToYourMind Toolkit

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re launching #BeKindToYourMind to promote mental well-being and self-care and raise awareness about the importance of mental health.

In this toolkit, you will find social media content that is ready to post and the best ways to share it! These posts are all about how to improve your mental well-being in your day-to-day life through exercises to try on your own or with others, helpful tips for boosting your mood and providing beneficial links to resources.

Sharing Our Message with Everyone: Accessibility Best Practices

We want to ensure everyone can easily participate in the movement to #BeKindToYourMind! Here are some inclusive tips to use when promoting content!

  • Image Descriptions: Provide clear and concise alt text for all images, briefly describing the content and its relevance to the post.
  • Use Captions: Include captions for videos and live streams and consider providing downloadable transcripts for extended video content.
  • Clear Communication: Communicate in simple terms, avoiding technical language and jargon. Keep your sentences brief and straightforward for easy understanding.
  • Hashtags: Using camel case will help make hashtags more readable (e.g., #CommitToInclusion). This helps screen readers announce them clearly. Our Mental Health Awareness Month hashtag is #BeKindToYourMind.
  • Limit Emojis: Emojis, while enjoyable, should be used in moderation and placed at the end of sentences. Refrain from depending on them to convey your message.
  • Color Contrast: Color contrast between text and background on images helps with readability.

Social Media Post Examples

#BeKindToYourMind for Mental Health Awareness Month! We are proud to partner with @NCHPAD to spread the word about self-care and boosting mental well-being! Check out their latest article on 10 things you can do every day to improve your mental well-being! https://bit.ly/NCHPAD-10-things

Our friends at @NCHPAD are launching the #BeKindToYourMind initiative to support positive mental health practices during Mental Health Awareness Month! Learn more about the health benefits of mindfulness and meditation in this blog! https://bit.ly/NCHPAD-Mindfulness

Mental health matters! We’ve partnered with @NCHPAD to let everyone know to #BeKindToYourMind! Find out more about the MENTOR program and the benefits of mindfulness in their video! https://youtu.be/WiKz1WK92-o?si=9V7L08QG08vvVMUQ 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month! Join us in supporting #BeKindToYourMind with our friends at @NCHPAD. Check out their website for self-care tips to prioritize your mental well-being! https://bit.ly/NCHPAD-10-things

People with disabilities face greater mental distress risks. This Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re teaming up with @NCHPAD to promote #BeKindToYourMind for improved mental well-being. Check out their site for more info! https://bit.ly/NCHPAD-10-things 

Promoting Inclusion in healthcare practices

Mental health is for everyone! May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and our partners at @NCHPAD offer guidelines for inclusive and accessible mental healthcare for individuals with disabilities. Check out the article to learn more! https://bit.ly/NCHPAD-promoting-inclusion 

Downloadable Graphics to Share

Reminder, please us alt-text when you share them!

Mental Health Awareness Month – Main Image (Square)
Mental Health Awareness Month – Main Image (Horizontal)
It’s okay to prioritize your mental well-being
Self-care isn’t selfish
Mental health is just as important as physical health
Mindfulness Benefits
Mental Health for Individuals with Disabilities
10 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Mental Well-Being
A woman using an electric cart to shop for fresh produce at a farmers market. A man is handing her a bag of produce.

We all know that mental health is important, but we often don’t prioritize it compared to our physical health. Sometimes we don’t take the time to manage our thoughts and emotions until we reach a breaking point. Frequent mental distress can also be more common for individuals with a disability compared to those without disabilities.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and there is no better time to commit to a new start for improving your mental health.

Better overall mental well-being can start with simple practices. These simple tasks can be done every day, and you don’t need special equipment. You can try these from anywhere! 

Kalani Upshaw, NCHPAD Community Health Educator, shares these 10 things you can do every day to improve your mental well-being.

  1. Take up a relaxation practice: Spend a few minutes each day practicing mindfulness, meditation or deep breathing. This can help reduce stress, enhance concentration and promote a feeling of calmness and peace.
  2. Exercise regularly: Physical activity releases endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. Even a short 30-minute daily exercise can significantly lift your mood and reduce stress.
  3. Get enough sleep: Sleep has a profound impact on mental health. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to help regulate mood and improve brain function.
  4. Eat a balanced diet: Nutrition plays a key role in brain health. Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains can help boost your mood and energy levels.
  5. Connect with others: Social interaction is vital. Spend time with friends or family, or foster connections by joining a club or group that interests you.
  6. Take breaks: When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take short breaks throughout the day. A few minutes away from your workstation or daily routines can help clear your mind and reduce stress.
  7. Set realistic goals: Set achievable goals each day, even if they’re small. Achieving goals gives a sense of satisfaction and purpose.
  8. Practice gratitude: Take a moment each day to think about the things you’re grateful for. Keeping a gratitude journal can shift your focus from what’s lacking to what’s abundant in your life.
  9. Limit screen time: Excessive use of screens can negatively impact mental health. Try to reduce the time spent on digital devices, especially before bedtime. 

Seek professional help when needed: If you’re struggling with mental health issues, don’t hesitate to seek professional help, especially if it has been going on for two weeks or more. Talking to a therapist or counselor can provide support and strategies to manage your mental health effectively. 

Your body and mind are closely connected. When you look after one, you often help the other too. Try these tips and hopefully you will notice a positive impact on your mental and physical health!

Here are some helpful resources from our team to help fulfill these practices:

Relaxation Practices: Our Guided Meditations on YouTube.

Exercises: Our Inclusive Home Workout Playlist on YouTube.

Searching for a way to connect with others? Learn more about NCHPAD’s Coffee Club!

To learn more about NCHPAD’s 6-week mental wellness promotion program, Growing Resilience Out of Wellness and Thoughtful Habits (GROWTH), visit this link.

1999-2024. National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability. An image of a table with NCHPAD brochures and marketing items on it. A photo of children smiling. A photo of a man using a wheelchair to cross the street. A graphic with a large "25" on it and "Twenty-Five years of Inclusion" underneath. The O in Inclusion is the NCHPAD logo.

As we celebrate 25 years of NCHPAD, we’re immensely proud of the nationwide impact we’ve had promoting the health, wellness and inclusion of people with disabilities into all areas of life. To commemorate our 25th anniversary, we’re looking back on our two-and-a-half decades of work.

NCHPAD’s 25 years of work with and for people with disabilities set the bar for our society to become more accessible and inclusive.

“Inclusion in health promotion and wellness activities is one of the most essential human rights in our society, no different from what curb cuts, ramps and accessible bathrooms did many years ago to allow people with disabilities to leave their homes,” said Dr. Jim Rimmer, NCHPAD Director. “NCHPAD’s 25 years of work with and for people with disabilities set the bar for our society to become more accessible and inclusive.”

From 1999 to 2012, we were known as the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD), based at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Our journey began with a clear mission: enhancing access to physical activity for individuals with disabilities.

During the first 13 years of NCHPAD, we focused on what could be considered the most important pathway to optimizing health and function: exercise. As we became a leader in promoting physical activity in people with disabilities, we decided that we needed to broaden our emphasis on health and well-being, and in 2012 we added an “H” to our name, for health.

“Adding health to our name gave us more tools in our toolbox to assist people with disabilities in improving their personal health and well-being,” said Dr. Rimmer. “And moving here to UAB, which includes a strong core of researchers who understand every aspect of physical activity and disability, has been absolutely crucial to our growth as the national leader in promoting the health and wellness of people with disabilities. We really could not practice this type of inclusion science without strong, continual support from UAB.”

Paralympian and public speaker Bob Lujano joined NCHPAD immediately after the move to Birmingham. He is grateful for the resources and opportunities NCHPAD has provided and proud to continue our legacy of inclusion and accessibility.

“Over the past 12 years, it has been my honor to work as an Expert Inclusion Specialist (EIS) at the NCHPAD – a job that is a continuous joyful endeavor,” said Lujano. “A big thanks to NCHPAD and those who have paved the way for me to have a platform of disability service in which I am allowed to forge ahead with my own disability lived experience. Here’s to many more years of NCHPAD continuing to better the lives of people with disabilities!”

During our first few years in Birmingham, we pioneered several initiatives promoting health and wellness among the disability community. From building a ‘paperless’ Information Center to transitioning towards dynamic online programs, we continuously evolved to better serve our community’s needs.

Our goals during this time were ambitious yet important: We wanted to improve access to programs, venues and services while increasing participation in beneficial physical activity and nutrition. We also worked to promote adherence to healthy behaviors and advocated for policy change and education by bridging research to practice through several unique, innovative approaches.

We are immensely proud of two significant milestones during that time: the launch of “NCHPAD 14 Weeks to a Healthier You,” a revolutionary online program offering personalized resources for physical activity and nutrition to individuals of all abilities and health aspirations, and our collaboration with the American College of Sports Medicine to introduce the Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer training program.

“The past 25 years have allowed NCHPAD to make a positive impact on inclusion and disability in the education space,” said Penny Edwards, NCHPAD Program Manager. “We have impacted administrators, future leaders, university professors, classroom teachers, health educators, physical educators and the list goes on in the education space, reaching well over one million students! We can’t wait to see what the next 25 years bring.”

We have impacted administrators, future leaders, university professors, classroom teachers, health educators, physical educators and the list goes on in the education space, reaching well over one million students!

In 2013, we launched our YouTube channel. Our YouTube channel is our largest resource hub, with over 30,000 subscribers – reaching millions each year. It’s been an incredible journey of sharing valuable content and stories that equip and empower people with lived experience and stakeholders who work with people with disabilities.

“Throughout the years of NCHPAD, we’ve interviewed hundreds of people with disabilities. It’s a huge privilege to be trusted with that access, learn about their needs, platform their stories and foster change,” said Matt Henton, NCHPAD Video Production Manager. “We get to work directly with these individuals to create resources that can help millions of people. We’re uniquely poised and honored to slowly fill the disability health and wellness content vacuum, one video at a time.”

In the beginning days, our focus was on creating concise exercise videos that catered to individuals with physical disabilities, to promote health. As time passed, we broadened our content to include information on adapted sports, community inclusion guides, cooking demonstrations, disability education and material tailored for teenagers and children. This expansion reflected (and continues to reflect) our commitment to serving people of all ages and backgrounds, promoting health and advancing inclusion.

“I was born with cerebral palsy and have active epilepsy, so NCHPAD, for me, has been a place to learn about Universal Design, the ADA, internalized ableism, medical ableism, aging and disability, mental health and so much more,” said Ingrid Pfau, Lead Digital Media Producer. “We are here to share stories, educate and help people as much as possible with our resources.”

As time passed, we broadened our content to include information on adapted sports, community inclusion guides, cooking demonstrations, disability education and material tailored for teenagers and children.

Some of our video highlights include our “How-To” series featuring Paralympian Mary Allison Cook, offering practical tips and tricks for navigating life as a wheelchair user, and The Awesome Mary Show with Mary White, focused on spreading positivity and advocating for equal treatment for people with disabilities.

During COVID-19 lockdowns, our nationally recognized home workout video playlist, which provided expert advice for older adults, was featured in The New York Times. In addition to that playlist, we have collaborated with Coach Dave Geslak at Exercise Connection to promote exercise for children with autism and provide valuable resources for parents, caregivers, educators and therapists – and this video series is closing in on an incredible one million views.

The Autism Exercise video series started in 2015 because both Exercise Connection and NCHPAD wanted to provide evidence-based strategies so practitioners and caregivers could help their autistic clients or children in a variety of physical activity settings. At that time, there was not a lot of information available,” said Dave Geslak, Exercise Connection President and Founder. “Over the years, we have heard from people all over the world, and they say it is so valuable because we are not only sharing evidence-based strategies with field-based exercises but that the videos also involve individuals with autism.”

Lately, our video team has focused on content for our growing roster of health promotion programs, including videos on mindfulness, meditation and healthy, delicious recipes.

In late 2022, we launched NCHPAD Connect, revolutionizing how we connect individuals with disabilities to health promotion programs and personalized resources! NCHPAD Connect is our online portal housing a growing community of health promotion programs and resources for people with disability.

“We have people who have had their disability from birth or people who have gotten their disabilities from accidents or different situations in life,” said Marie Granucci, a participant in several NCHPAD Connect programs. “It’s nice to connect with other people and see things from broad perspectives, like how different people look at different parts of disabilities. No one is ‘woe is me’ or ‘what am I doing here?’”

NCHPAD Connect tackles health disparities head-on by providing comprehensive programs and resources specifically designed to support the health and wellness of people with disabilities and help prevent secondary conditions.

NCHPAD Connect tackles health disparities head-on by providing comprehensive programs and resources specifically designed to support the health and wellness of people with disabilities and help prevent secondary conditions.

“NCHPAD Connect provides information and options for ALL levels of ability and tailors the information to the recipients,” said Teresa White, program participant and assistant coach of a NCHPAD health promotion program. “This is something that I believe makes NCHPAD a unique and valuable resource for any individual with a physical disability.”

Each program focuses on holistic health and wellness, from diet and nutrition to evidence-based mindfulness and meditation, exercise, and more! Each year, there are new programs available through NCHPAD Connect, specially tailored to individual participant needs, goals and feedback.

“We see NCHPAD as a ‘disruptor’ in health and wellness,” said Dr. Rimmer. “We provide connection to every single area of health, from physical and mental health to emotional or spiritual health, which has been often neglected.”

“This connection includes building strong relationships, giving back to others and a versatile, evidence-based spiritual practice that connects the individual to a state of mind that induces peace, joy and love.”

Central to our success has been our collaboration with national healthcare partners, facilitating patient involvement and educating healthcare providers on the importance and impact of inclusive wellness initiatives. Since we started, we’ve made incredible strides in fostering partnerships and expanding our reach to thousands of individuals with disabilities nationwide.

“Our healthcare partners are vital to our success in reaching thousands of additional people across the country. We empower each provider with expert training and disability education that helps reduce medical ableism while increasing empathy and access to care,” said Tracy F. Tracy, NCHPAD Healthcare Inclusion Specialist. “This gives often overlooked or marginalized populations access to programs and resources that make a huge difference in overall health and wellness.”

Our healthcare partners are vital to our success in reaching thousands of additional people across the country. We empower each provider with expert training and disability education that helps reduce medical ableism while increasing empathy and access to care.

Our collaborative approach is deeply rooted in the belief that strategic partnerships are vital for the development and sustainability of community health inclusion.

“Spaulding Adaptive Sports Centers values partnering with NCHPAD; it enriches our programs by connecting us to like-minded organizations and rehabilitation hospitals on a national level, as well as strongly aligns with our four Pillars of Excellence: Education, Advocacy, Outreach and Research,” said Hayley Brown, Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) with Spaulding and MENTOR health coach. “More specifically, collaboration with the MENTOR Program supports ongoing resource development that is available to all our staff and clients.”

With over 60 national partners on board, including respected names like Ochsner Health, Craig Hospital, Spaulding Adaptive Sports Center, Health Choice Network, Methodist Rehabilitation, Alabama Department of Public Health, Motus Nova, OhioHealth and Cerebral Palsy Research Network, among others, we’re proud of the diverse network we’ve built and the impact we’re making together.

As we reflect on our journey these past 25 years, we’re grateful for the support of our partners and the opportunity to continue advancing inclusion and revolutionizing access to health and wellness. Here’s to many more years of collaboration and progress!

“I would like to end with a tribute to all the NCHPAD staff who joined us from 1999 to the present,” said Dr. Rimmer. “It’s been a joyful 25 years meeting all of these wonderful and dedicated staff and watching them grow into careers that are addressing a tremendous need in our society – inclusion and acceptance.”

Looking ahead, NCHPAD is expanding on our important work of the last 25 years to reach more of the millions of Americans with disabilities. Thanks to our Data Coordinating Center (DCC) and Evaluation and Performance Measurement Team, we are refining and personalizing programs and resources with even more precision.

Comprehensively capturing health behavior changes among our participants across the entire United States deepens our understanding of the multifaceted needs within the disability community. And this systematic data collection effort empowers us to rigorously evaluate the impact of our health promotion programs on participants’ health and quality of life outcomes and continue building evidence-based resources and practices for the disability community. We couldn’t be more excited about the future!

Whether you need a health promotion program, inclusive resource, partnership, educational resource or simply a community to interact with, NCHPAD has something for you. Connect with our team at nchpad@uab.edu or give us a call at 866-866-8896.

A meditation bell on a mantle with small lit candles.

Spiritual practice is an important method for improving and maintaining mental and physical health. But what is spiritual practice? How can it help me? How do I implement it into my life?

This topic is the second blog in our series about MY SCORECARD, an acronym we use to explain the domains of wellness that we focus on in the NCHPAD MENTOR program. The second letter in MY SCORECARD, Y, stands for “Your spiritual practice.”

What do we mean by “Your spiritual practice?”

First, it’s important to know that for the MENTOR program, “Your spiritual practice” is not associated with religion. It can be part of the spiritual tradition or religion that you practice in life, but it does not have to.

In MENTOR, “Your spiritual practice” means maintaining a strong relationship with yourself and others and realizing the broader purpose of life in relation to the ‘source’ of all forms of life. 

Spirituality has more to do with the connection of all things and a deep understanding of our connection to each other.

While there isn’t one specific definition for spiritual wellness, there are terms that are associated with this practice: peace, harmony, compassion, connection to others, purpose and transcendence (something beyond this universe). 

The National Wellness Institute defines spiritual well-being as “the search for meaning and purpose in human existence, leading one to strive for a state of harmony with oneself and others while working to balance inner needs with the rest of the world.”

The essential foundation of spirituality is an understanding that everything connects to the whole. 

When the life of others becomes more important than your own life, and your level of faith to an outside source gives you reason for hope and optimism, you are gaining a sense of spirituality that connects you to the rest of the world.

How does Spirituality benefit me?

In a 2016 study, Australian researchers conducted a review of 28 studies focusing on spirituality among individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI). This comprehensive review explored how spirituality contributes to the adaptation and resilience of individuals and their family members following SCI.

This review highlighted three key findings that showed the significance of spirituality: 

  1. Higher levels of spirituality were associated with improved quality of life, life satisfaction, mental health and resilience for individuals with SCI. 
  2. Families and people with SCI would like health professionals to use spirituality in their practice. 
  3. The researchers concluded that there is great potential for conducting more research in spirituality to determine how and why this important practice leads to better health outcomes. 

Following a recent injury or new diagnosis, engaging in spiritual practice can offer solace to individuals seeking to regain a sense of balance in their lives. For some, the path to recovery may involve spirituality, offering a profound insight into their inner purpose and ultimately fostering a heightened sense of peace and serenity.

How to apply “Your Spiritual Practice” in your daily life

From NCHPAD Director Dr. James Rimmer

Upon awakening every morning, seek out a place in your home where there is stillness and silence and meditate for about 5-15 minutes (start with one minute if five minutes is too long). Make this your daily practice. 

  1. While meditating, connect with whomever or whatever is your spiritual source, that is, your understanding of how you arrived into this world. 
  2. During your meditation practice, focus on compassionate thoughts for a) family, b) friends and c) those you don’t know who are suffering anywhere in the world.
  3. Use your meditation practice to reach a state of consciousness where you understand how to remove fears, doubts, anxieties and other emotions. Replace them with peace (acceptance of this moment only – no thoughts about the past or future).
  4. Set up your daily mantra (a saying that keeps you grounded in your spiritual practice) to use whenever you fall back into an emotion (fear, anger, jealousy, etc.). For me, it is – “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it yourself.” Eckhart Tolle 
  5. Remember that the focus of spiritual practice in MENTOR is that ‘outflow equals inflow.’ The more you give to others, the more you receive in return. Positive relationships with whomever you meet or with family IS the central aspect of a strong spiritual practice. 
NCHPAD Mentor logo, the words "MyScorecard: Mindfulness" are below it. The text overlays a colorful background.

We’re often told to think positively when we feel sad or stressed, but it’s not uncommon for our minds to have negative thoughts.

Negative thought patterns exist because of early survival skills everyone develops to prevent us from harm. This pattern could be from a perceived danger, learned experience from a previous negative situation or life uncertainties.

If left unchecked, negative thought patterns can create deeper anxiety, worry and anguish. But what tools can we use to control our thoughts and emotions?

In the NCHPAD MENTOR program, we focus on multiple domains of wellness through the acronym MY SCORECARD. The first letter in MY SCORECARD, M, may be the most important. It stands for “Minding your thoughts and emotions.”

So how can we mind our thoughts and emotions? Mindfulness, one of the main parts of the MENTOR program, can help.

Here are some of the benefits of Mindfulness from Emily Hornsby, NCHPAD Mindfulness Curriculum Coordinator:

Mindfulness and meditation help us to be more open and accepting of the difficulties and joys of life – just as they are. Scientific research indicates that the practice of mindfulness and meditation can have the following benefits:

1. It changes the brain so that the individual experiences more happiness and well-being.

2. Improves attention.

3. Lowers stress.

4. Improves thinking and quality of life.

5. Positively changes responses to pain.

6. Lowers anxiety.

7. Improves mental fatigue.

8. Increases calm and focus.

9. Improves the quality of life for caregivers and survivors.

10. Improves the ability to attain goals.

11. Enhances self-resilience.

With these benefits, it is easy to see how practicing mindfulness and meditation can positively contribute to all the other domains of wellness, from being more present in our relationships and our time in nature to knowing when we need to practice self-care or rest and relax. Mindfulness and Meditation can provide a portal to our spiritual practice, and it is a self-care skill available to all of us. Being present with mindful eating and exercise can help us with our weight management and overall health.

When we look inward through mindfulness practice and meditation, we can see with more clarity what our core values are, and we are better equipped to focus our attention on contributing to others as-opposed-to being fixated on worrying about the future or ruminating about the past. Mindfulness and Meditation are tools that can help us with all the wellness domains in MY SCORECARD.

Mindfulness can help prevent negative thought patterns that turn into reactions. Awareness of a negative thought pattern and stopping it from becoming an emotion can prevent a negative reaction.

Living well and managing the day-to-day stresses of difficult life’s situations like finances, emotional setbacks, relationship difficulties and job burdens start by placing the mind in the right mindset or simply staying in the now.

Think of Mindfulness as an anchor in your life that you can return to when stress, anxiety and negative feelings start to impact your life.

Watch some of our Mindfulness videos here on our YouTube channel.

To learn more about the MENTOR program and join today, visit our MENTOR page.

A laptop with many colorful sticky notes on it and around it

By Emily Hornsby, NCHPAD Mindfulness Curriculum Coordinator

We have all heard of multitasking, but do you always like to multitask? Do you ever feel too busy? Trying to complete several different tasks at once can sometimes be overwhelming and even cause anxiety.

Multitasking is doing more than one task at the same time. We drive and talk on the phone, or we talk on the phone and clean the house, or we even type on our computers while talking on the phone or on a Zoom call.  

Multitasking is necessary for many people, and multitasking is even considered an admirable trait! But is it always good?

Have you ever been frustrated, anxious or stressed out when you are multitasking? Do you ever move from one thing to the next without completing any of the tasks? Do you make more mistakes when you multitask? You aren’t alone.

Recent studies have shown that multitasking can be less effective and productive than previously thought. It can decrease the accuracy of certain tasks.

When we shift from one task without completing it to another, the brain needs time to focus on the new task. If we are constantly switching from one task to another without completing them, this can increase the amount of time it takes to complete the task. This often causes frustration, anxiety and stress.  

And when we are frustrated, anxious or stressed, we are unable to do our best work or be our best selves.

Single-Tasking to Reduce Anxiety and Improve Productivity 

Productivity experts suggest that the best way to accomplish something well is to direct all our attention, energy and time to completing one task before we move on to the next one. This is also known as “single-tasking.”

Harvard researchers recently tracked the activities and thoughts of several thousand volunteers, and they found something really interesting. Almost one-half of the time, our thoughts are not related to what we are currently doing; our minds are wandering. We are not present.

The researchers also found that we are happiest when we are present and focused on exactly what we are doing – whether having a conversation, moving down the street or doing the dishes. In other words, single-tasking.

So, what are some tools that will help us to be able to rest our attention on one task at a time and be happier? Mindfulness and Meditation.  

Mindfulness is simply paying attention to the present moment without judgment.

You can practice mindfulness in your everyday life by resting your attention on whatever task it is that you are doing. This can be anything from cleaning the house, brushing your teeth, washing dishes or having a conversation with someone.  

Being fully present with the experience that is going on right then and there without stressing about the future or over-thinking about the past is mindfulness.

Meditation is just a formal way of practicing mindfulness. In meditation, you direct the focus of your attention deliberately without judgment. Here are some helpful meditation tips if you’re just starting out:

  • Focus on your breath and have that be your anchor.
  • When thoughts, feelings and emotions come up – AND THEY WILL – simply notice them and even name them to yourself.
  • Let your thoughts go like clouds in the sky or waves in the ocean and return to your breath. 

Scientific studies have shown that mindfulness and meditation improve your attention, lower your anxiety and stress, and increase calm and focus.

This simple practice of mindfulness and meditation will help you be able to single-task. Try focusing your attention on one thing at a time to reduce your anxiety, frustration and stress.

Today, try completing one task before you begin another. Even if you can’t single-task all the time, pick some tasks in which you can rest your full attention on that task until you complete it. See how you feel!

Thank you and see you soon!

If you would like more information about the MENTOR program or Mindfulness and Meditation please contact the National Center for Health, Physical Activity and Disability at www.nchpadconnect.org or call 1-866-866-8896.

New Year Intention Setting. Mindfulness Practice with Tara Beech

The new year offers time to pause and reflect on the previous year before starting fresh. In this blog from Tara Beech, NCHPAD Mindfulness Instructor, we focus on intention setting to create a clear and focused outlook on the new year, a key element of the NCHPAD MENTOR program.

“Our intentions create our reality.”  Dr. Wayne Dyer

The new year often represents a time to reset and begin again. It can become a time of making big promises with New Year’s resolutions. However, any of us who have made resolutions in the past knows how hard it is to start new habits and keep up the momentum to sustain them. Anyone who has signed up for a gym membership in January and tried to get out of that contract later in the year knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Take a moment to pause and reflect.

First, consider – What are the things that made you happy the year before? What did you get excited about? What things happened that you felt good about?

Is there a theme tying these things together? Is there a word or phrase that represents the feeling or action?

Next, consider – What are some of the things that are challenging to you? Are you over-committed? Have you been dealing with health challenges? Do you have a strain in your relationships?

Is there an intention, such as self-care or compassion, that you can set to support you through these challenges?

For myself, I would like to be less critical of myself and others and the phrase, “Be judicious with your words” comes to mind. I have two questions to ask myself before I speak or go into deep thought that will help me remember this.

Is it kind?

Does it need to be said?

Do my thoughts reflect self-compassion and kindness?

Here is a sample of other words that might

inspire you to set an intention for yourself:

Words of Reflection

pause, reset,

gratitude, resilience,

optimism, awe,

and awareness.

Words of Change

rest, renew,

nourish, recharge,

simplify, energize,

and grow

Words of Connection

forgive, relate,

reconnect, balance,

cherish, comfort,

and listen

Choosing something that resonates for you. You might ask how you can align a word or phrase with something that will contribute to your sense of ease.

Use the word or phrase as a resource to shift your mindset when you feel caught up or stuck in narratives and stories that pull you away from your values, intentions, and hopes.

You might honor your intention and chosen word or phrase by pausing to light a candle or placing a hand on your heart.

May you encounter much joy, peace,

and love in the new year!


Tara Beech

Mindfulness Meditation Instructor

Mentor Spotlight, Emily Hornsby, NCHPAD Mindfulness Curriculum Coordinator

Emily Hornsby is a NCHPAD Mindfulness Instructor and will begin a new role this month as our Mindfulness Curriculum Coordinator.

How long have you been with NCHPAD?

I’ve been with NCHPAD for a little over six months or so.

Tell us about your background & education. What brought you to NCHPAD?

I grew up in Tallassee, Alabama, a small town in Elmore County located between Montgomery and Auburn. I graduated from Tallassee High School in 1987. I attended Birmingham-Southern College and graduated in 1991 with a double major in English and Business. I attended The University of Alabama School of Law and received my J.D. in 1994.

I went to work with the law firm Pittman, Hooks, Marsh, Dutton and Hollis in 1994, representing individuals who were catastrophically and permanently injured in some way. After the birth of my two children (and a stint as a stay-at-home mom), I went to work (in 2001) as an Assistant Attorney General with the State of Alabama, representing the Department of Human Resources in child abuse and neglect cases in Jefferson County, Alabama. In 2004, I changed jobs and began working with the law firm of Morris Haynes in Birmingham doing personal injury work representing individuals who had been seriously injured or killed in automobile and trucking accidents, train wrecks and helicopter crashes, as well as cases where individuals have been injured or killed by defective products and legionnaire’s disease. I made a career change in June of 2023 and left Morris Haynes after 19 years of law practice to focus on a career in mindfulness.

I met another NCHPAD Mindfulness Instructor, Cathy Wright, in 2019 at a silent retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. We were both enrolled in the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Training Program, a 2-year program taught by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. Cathy and I started chatting – before we had to go into silence – and realized that we were both attorneys from Birmingham who were passionate about Mindfulness. Cathy created the curriculum for the MENTOR Mindfulness classes and was the founding Mindfulness Curriculum Coordinator for the program. Several years after we both completed our Mindfulness teacher certification training, I told Cathy I wanted to make a career change and focus on Mindfulness, so she invited me to teach in the MENTOR program. That is how I came to NCHPAD, and I am forever indebted to my mentor and creator of the MENTOR Mindfulness curriculum, Cathy Wright, for introducing me to this wonderful program and inviting me to teach.

How long have you worked with people with disabilities?

I’ve worked with people with disabilities in a professional sense since 1994, when I went to work with Pittman Hooks, a personal injury firm. I have represented a myriad of individuals over the last 29 years who have been severely and permanently injured and disabled. As a personal injury lawyer, I saw people who had recently gone through a very traumatic experience that injured them and changed their lives forever. At times, I say personal injury lawyers are, more times than not, a counselor and a legal advocate for their clients. 

On a personal level, I have worked with disabilities all my life. My dear Aunt Joan O’Daniel, was born with cerebral palsy. Upon her birth in 1946, the doctors did not think she would live very long, but through her resilience, determination, and sheer will and hard work, she has survived and thrived to age 77. She graduated high school and went to Auburn University and got her degree in library science – and she was a librarian for 20 years until she retired. She was named Woman of the Year and has received many other accolades in her lifetime.

I have accompanied Joan to doctor’s appointments, to ER visits, to the symphony, to the movies, to family reunions and to family gatherings. I’ve been Joan’s advocate at doctor’s appointments, at planning meetings at the assisted living facilities where she’s lived and at the skilled nursing facilities she’s inhabited. All that to say, I have witnessed up close and personal what my aunt Joan and other people who are living with a disability encounter on a routine basis in this country.

I also have a mother who is in the end stages of Alzheimer’s and a father who has recently been diagnosed with multiple myeloma – both of whom are in their mid-80s. I have witnessed their journey with their disease and am their only child who is living in Birmingham, so I spend a great deal of time caring for my parents and my Aunt Joan, who is in a nursing home in Birmingham.

What program or programs do you work with? How long have you worked with that program?

I work with the MENTOR program and am a Mindfulness teacher. I was introduced to MENTOR approximately six months ago by Cathy Wright.

I’m also on the Board of Directors of the Mindfulness in Law Society, a 501c3 organization that promotes mindfulness meditation and other contemplative practices to those in the legal profession to reduce suffering. I, along with my legal colleague, Susan Han, started the Alabama chapter of the Mindfulness in Law Society, where we have meditation sits, yoga classes and social gatherings. I am also the representative from the state of Alabama for IWIL (Institute for Well-Being in Law). I have spoken at the Alabama State Bar meetings and Birmingham Bar Meetings about mindfulness meditation.

What talents or expertise do you bring to NCHPAD or this program?

My talents or expertise is my lived experience in my professional and personal life. I was introduced to meditation in 2012 when I attended a family weekend at an alcohol inpatient rehabilitation center in Minnesota, where my husband at the time was a patient. I was a single mom trying to balance a personal injury law practice while raising two children and having a husband who was sick with the disease of alcoholism. I remember the family weekend at the alcohol treatment center had programs for me – the loved one of the alcoholic. They introduced meditation, which was a new concept to me. It was from that point forward that I began my spiritual journey. 

I went online and took a meditation course with Deborah King; I went to an “I Can Do It” retreat in Atlanta and heard Wayne Dyer speak; I attended a “Wake Up” festival sponsored by Sounds True in Estes Park, Colorado; I attended a retreat at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York and heard Anita Moorjani speak about her book Dying to be Me; I hired a life coach, Lee Irwin, who led me in many meditation sessions; and I ultimately graduated from a two-year mindfulness meditation course taught by renowned meditation teachers Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach to become a certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher. 

Mindfulness and yoga provided me with the resources I needed to get through some truly tough times and they have changed my life for the better, and I am passionate about sharing these practices with others – particularly the disabled community.

What is your favorite thing about NCHPAD or this program?

My favorite thing about MENTOR is that individuals who would not ordinarily take a mindfulness course and may never have been introduced to mindfulness experience it as part of the MENTOR program. It’s wonderful to see participants benefiting from the teachings.

What are you most looking forward to in this program?

I am looking forward to sharing Mindfulness with people who might otherwise have never been exposed to it.

My students tell me that the two rules we teach them (1. Be kind to yourself, and 2. Remember the first rule) have helped them to become aware of their inner critic and how they are treating themselves. This awareness of how they are treating themselves is the gateway to presence and a much richer life. 

 What hobbies do you have outside of work?

My hobbies outside of work include furthering my spiritual journey through meditation and yoga, spending time with my parents, my aunt and my children, walking in nature, and traveling.

What’s your favorite food, favorite thing to cook or favorite recipe?

My favorite food is blackened redfish. My favorite recipe is Santa Fe soup, which I cook every year the Friday night after Thanksgiving for my family.

What’s your favorite music, movies or tv shows?

I love ALL music. Music is a very important part of my life.  Music makes the world go round and brings people together, no matter their political views or sexual orientation. It is a great healer to me.

My mother was a child prodigy of sorts and played piano by ear from a very early age and continued playing in church as the church pianist when I was growing up. She instilled in me a love and appreciation for music.

I took many years of piano lessons growing up and I played the clarinet in the high school band and sang in the church youth choir. I took drum lessons for a brief period of time later in my life. I rarely play the piano but I sing every chance I get – and LOVE to listen to music!

What’s your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is: “All is well.”

Who or what inspires you?

Music inspires me; pursuing my passion of mindfulness inspires me, and all the students in my class who are doing the very best they can inspire me deeply. My Aunt Joan inspires me daily.

If you could switch careers for a day, what would you choose?

If I could switch careers, I would be a backup singer to a very famous singer. I don’t necessarily want to be the lead vocalist, but singing back up regularly and harmonizing and making music to me would be heaven.

What’s one thing (not related to your job) that you could teach someone else how to do?

The one thing I could teach not related to my job is yoga poses: how to breathe through a pose and hold it for a little longer.