For several months our board has been looking for a more appropriate name for what was formerly Life Support. Certainly, Life Support was kind of cute, but it didn’t say what we did. For us, it was just a name to use until we found the right one, and InStill appears to be it.
To give you a bit of context, Life Support was formerly the name of Executive Director Jamie Reygle’s single proprietor business. It was mostly just a little mindfulness-related work ‘on the side’, and was never really much of a going concern until it became a nonprofit run by a competent board of directors, with a vision to bring mindfulness to southwest Virginia.
We had an issue with that terminology, too. Nobody is bringing mindfulness anywhere. Mindfulness is already within all of us. All we are doing is making people more aware of their own capacity for it. So now we say we are instilling mindfulness in southwest Virginia. That sounds better, doesn’t it?
How do you like our new name? We’d love to know what you think.
If this program proves successful (and so far it has!), we aim to expand this program over the coming semesters—first through the other grades at Blacksburg Middle School (BMS); then at the three other middle schools in the county; and finally to introduce it to other school districts in our region, as part of our overall vision to instill mindfulness throughout southwest Virginia.
At BMS (the home of the Titans), the 6th grade students break into 15 ‘Titan Time’ groups for 25 minutes every day. Each Wednesday, Life Support Executive Director Jamie Reygle and four Radford University Counselor Education students come to Titan Time to instruct the students in what we like to term real-world interrelational mindfulness.
In our first class, we begin by asking the students to move their chairs into a circle, while we play them Stressed Out by Twenty One Pilots. We then ask each of them what makes them feel stressed out, and then what strategies they use to deal with stress. As expected, these students are very wise, and are able to provide many effective methods for overcoming stress in their lives.
Fortunately—through mindfulness—we have even more! So we give them a quick explanation of why their strategies work (largely because they focus the amygdala on something else), and then let them know that we’ll be sharing a whole bunch of similar strategies with them over the coming weeks. We introduce them to a chime, asking them to raise their hands when they can’t hear it anymore, and then ask them to turn their chairs out (so they’re not distracted by / distracting other students), and invite them to experience their breathing while we play Breathe by Jonny Diaz.
With a bit of luck, we still have time to put the chairs back at the end of the class!
It’s short, it’s sharp, it’s to the point, and the students and teachers really seem to enjoy it. So much so that next week, Jamie Reygle and Angela Cardenas begin teaching mindfulness to a large cohort of teachers at the school. Teachers will be able to receive re-certification points for these classes, too!