STOP BREATHE and THINK!
My wife is right about most things. The only reason I don't say "all things" is she would say she is far from perfect. One of the infinite things I love about her.
Several years ago she suggested I try meditation. I had no idea what it was and stumbled upon a local transcendental meditation program. I don't recall what kept me away from it. I think it was cost. Regardless, I kept hearing about meditation from time to time. I kept seeing this video about these guys in Baltimore doing amazing things with meditation and yoga in public schools.
More on these guys in the next post! I can't wait to tell you about them!
But that video circulated social media like wildfire, and it kept coming back to me. I had some typical work stress at the time, and I felt I needed something to help ground me so I can help others.
I turned to Insight Timer.
I think what drew me here was the vast array of practices; the ability to sort by time; and the overall ease of use. I started meditating in my closet where I could shut a few doors and segregate from teenagers, noise and the dog. I started practicing daily, waking up twenty minutes earlier. As I started seeing the benefits of my practice (more calm, lower blood pressure, and the word just seemed slower), I wanted to bring this experience to my students. But I thought Insight Timer was more for adults.
Enter: My Life: Stop. Breathe. Think.
This app stood out because it was the only one focused on schools. It also provides before and after data! I was instantly hooked. From the layout, feel and ease of use, this was a remarkable discovery. I was ready to implement it with some students who regularly came to see me. What I discovered changed the course of my professional and personal life.
Students reported feeling more calm.
Student reported feeling less stress.
Students stated they noticed their breath.
Students reported they felt "lighter," more grounded.
Here are some students who share first hand
I immediately wanted to tell the world what I discovered! I was using my "go to" counseling techniques for years helping students discover how to solve their problems. But now....NOW there was something that offered INSTANT gratification, something all adolescents want. Especially in this digital age!
What I love about MyLife is their signature feature: The Check In.
You can see as you scroll from left to right above, students are asked how they currently feel, but it is specific, intentional. Ask a student how they feel on a normal day and they reply, "Fine" most of the time and regardless of the truth. Put technology in their hands, ask them how they feel physically, mentally and emotionally with carefully chosen vocabulary and you have first hand, reliable, quantifiable data. Then, as you can see from the last slide, students get instant meditation practices related specifically to how they currently feel. Talk about personalization. Every adolescent wants to feel heard, paid attention to, noticed. Here, they have it in the palm of their hand. Even more, I love the word choices displayed: Simple. Concise. Relatable.
What is even more brilliant is this short check in process repeats itself after a student practices. So now....there is a before and an after. Instant feedback for kids who want instant feedback. The adolescent brain craves immediate feedback. (For more on that, here is one of my favorite Ted Talks discussing "The Mysterious Workings of the Adolescent Brain."
Below are the examples of what a student sees when they are done.
What is so helpful for a teen (really anyone of any age) to see are the Top Emotions Before Meditating and After, as displayed in the photo on the right above in orange. Again.....brilliant. I can't tell you how many of these screenshots I send to parents to say, "Look at what your son or daughter did today! First, they came to a trusted adult. Then, they tried something new and different. Lastly, they found proven results!" Now....they just have to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
I can not say enough about this app and the people there. I'm just a guy in Indiana who reached out to express gratitude for their product. The support they continue to provide educators is not just exceptional. It should be the norm in our society. In fact, I once requested to speak to someone in the organization for our counseling department podcast. When I thought an intern or assistant would most likely return my email, the opposite happened. Jamie Price, CEO and Co Founder replied saying she would be delighted to be our guest. Wait! What?!?!? She was willing to wake up at 6 a.m on the west coast to speak to me?! Not too good to be true. It's just who she is. It's just who they are.
Click here to listen to that podcast.
If you are anyone who works with kids, this app is a must. If you work in a school, not only is the app a must, but MyLife for Schools is super exciting. My school has looked at the demo a few times and hoping we can adopt so every student can engage with it routinely . . . all 1,400 of them! Moreover, teachers can get the pulse of their classroom by having every student engage. Then, that teacher can teach accordingly. Talk about Social Emotional Learning!
Five years later, I am still using MyLife: Stop Breathe Think. Students continue to respond. The company continues to evolve. It just works.
If you are an educator and you have questions about how to implement this, please connect with me. I'd love to hear from you. It does take a village.
Stay tuned in for my next post where I will continue to share my journey with you. My experiences with The Holistic Life Foundation in tandem with MyLife: Stop Breathe Think, sent me on a path that I am still on today.
Lastly....check this out...