One percent of the population in the City of Ottawa has trained in mindfulness through a course offered by Ransom Memorial Health, which makes Ottawa the first mindful city in the nation.

Course alumni — who staff local service organizations — are, in turn, applying mindfulness in their work with clients. These organizations include the Elizabeth Layton (community mental health) Center, the Willow Domestic Violence Center, ECKAN, the City of Ottawa, Prairie Paws Animal Shelter and Ransom Memorial Health.

Mindfulness is the practice of bringing awareness to present moment experience, while responding in a relaxed-but-ready way to life rather than reacting stressfully in the body, emotions, and thoughts. Ransom Memorial Health provides an intensive eight-week course in Stress Management based on Mindfulness Meditation to enhance the physical, mental, and social health of the community. The fee is low, at $100, to make the course broadly affordable.

“The course is for everyone in the community,” Matt Heyn, President/CEO of Ransom Memorial Health, said. “We encourage leaders in all areas of the community to take the course, not only because it benefits them, but because mindful leaders positively affect their organizations and everyone they have contact with. Research backs this up, showing that mindful bosses have happier employees.”

Heyn added leaders in the city meet monthly to work on building a mindful community. They include the city manager, a representative of Ottawa University, Heyn, community mental health center, and the Chamber of Commerce. Their organizations and many others have paid for employees to attend.

“Research shows that mindfulness increases productivity, decreases burnout, and increases job satisfaction,” William Hale, M.D., course instructor, said.

Richard Nienstedt, city manager said mindfulness doesn’t remove external stressors, but it helps people manage their stress reactions.

“It helps us let go of the everyday stressors of life and work, so that’s better for the family and coworkers around us,” he said.

The next course runs Jan. 22, 2019 through March 12. Classes are at in the RMH conference rooms. To register, visit and choose Stress Management Program from the drop-down menu or call (785) 229-8458. The class is limited to 30 people on a first-come, first-served basis.