The art of presence: Sept. 1 speaker offers techniques to harness the power of mindful practice

Dave JohnsonWomen looking for ways to build resiliency and flourish as they meet the challenges of change and stress will learn practical tips on how to do so at a free lecture Sept. 1.

It is the second installment of the Manchester University Women’s Impact Project: Conviction in Action series designed to educate and empower women of northeast Indiana to use their passions and leadership skills to make a difference.

Dr. Dave Johnson, a licensed clinical social worker, and marriage and family therapist, will speak about “The Art of Mindful Presence” at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, at the  Fort Wayne campus, 10627 Diebold Road.

Simply put, mindfulness means living each moment – being aware of our thoughts, feelings, surrounding environment and what our body is feeling. To practice mindfulness, we tune into what we’re sensing at this moment rather than multi-tasking, rehashing the past or imagining the future.

“I think the big takeaway for folks will be how to recognize when they are caught in their ‘thinking mind,’ which is often stressful, and have an awareness of how to reclaim a sense of calm and balance that comes with the practice of mindfulness-based meditation,” Johnson said.

Although this practice has roots in Eastern meditation, secular mindfulness techniques can aid anyone looking for personal renewal, Johnson said. Insight gained from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), he said, can enhance leadership, self-care and the “art of presence within our personal and professional lives.”

He will introduce:

  • Methods designed to enhance personal resiliency and sense of presence.
  • The brain physiology involved and how the MBSR practices can build resiliency for themselves, family, clients and employees.
  • How the practices can help a person recognize choices and take control of thoughts, including emotional responses such as anger, anxiety, fear, depression or feeling overwhelmed. 
  • The know-how to set goals for enhancing your own sense of resiliency and professional renewal.

Johnson is a regional consultant and employee assistance specialist with Parkview Health and a professor of nursing at the University of Saint Francis.  He has worked with more than 250 local and regional organizations with consultations, presentations and publications.

The Women’s Impact Project is a quarterly series featuring discussions on contemporary topics. The debut event in May featured Carolene Mays-Medley, vice chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, who spoke about how faith empowers her to persevere “beyond the bumps in the road.”

​​She addressed dozens of northeast Indiana women, sharing her story that includes rising from a past with domestic violence to being elected to the Indiana House of Representatives and being offered a job in the Obama administration that she ultimately turned down – to remain on the state regulatory commission and stay in Indiana to raise her children.

“The forum provides women in the community an opportunity to network, celebrate diversity, and mentor others,” said Staci Beiswanger, employee development manager at Steel Dynamics Inc., who attended the May presentation.

The Sept. 1 speech will be preceded by a networking reception with light hors d'oeuvres and cash bar at 5:30 p.m. Doors for the presentation open at 5:55 p.m., and the program ends promptly at 7 p.m.

Please let us know as soon as possible if you are coming. We want to have enough handouts and hors d'oeuvres for those who attend.

"This series is a gift to the women of our community, and I will encourage all my friends to attend," said Beth Goldsmith, who attended the debut presentation. She owns Sold by the Gold, North Eastern Group Realty.

For more information about the Women's Impact Project, contact Lisa C. Schall at 260-470-2702 or

Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., offers more than 60 areas of academic study to nearly 1,500 students in undergraduate programs, a Master of Athletic Training and a four-year professional Doctor of Pharmacy.  Learn more about the private, northern Indiana school at

June 21, 2015

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