by Joseph Quigley 
BELLEVILLE – The first event of the”Disconnect to Connect Week ” took place Tuesday morning as students and staff connected with nature through a smudging ceremony.
The weeklong event is trying to encourage students to take a break from electronics to appreciate nature and the people around them.
The first scheduled part of the week, a smudging ceremony, took place in the Loyalist Aboriginal Resources Centre . The event offered students a chance to take part in an Aboriginal cleansing ritual.
The ceremony is practiced by several Aboriginal communities. The ritual includes burning multiple herbs, taking the smoke in one’s hands, and rubbing or brushing it across the body. This is done to cleanse the spirit and body of negative energy.
Sarah Michelle Ogden, Loyalist’s mind and wellness practitioner, organized the event. She said the ceremony was a good opportunity for students to relax and experience something natural.
“Smudging is a really significant indigenous practice,” said Ogden. “It really does capture this appreciation for what we’ve been given by the natural world. All of the medicines used in smudging come from nature. It seems like a very appropriate way to recognize this week.”
Ogden added that the ceremony itself offers a unique, soothing experience:http://www.qnetnews.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/full-interview-for-smudging-ceremony.mp3 
Ogden said she wants the “Disconnect to Connect Week” to make students more mindful and aware of each other physically.
“Disconnect to Connect Week is about just taking some time to step back from our phones a little bit and our electronics and just trying to be more aware of each other physically. Just trying to be more mindful, be more present, and putting our phones away helps us to be more mindful and to be present in the present moment,” said Ogden.
The final event of the week will be a phone-free walk through the Loyalist arboretum on Thursday.