We are very happy to say we finished off our Make a Great Match campaign having achieved our goal of raising $5,500 to support our InSchools mindfulness program in Floyd County Public Schools.
The InSchools program trains faculty in mindfulness, which we define as to be noticing with curiosity, in the present moment, and without judgment, which enables practitioners to cultivate focus, concentration, kindness, compassion, wisdom, and heartfulness towards themselves and others. InStill Executive Director, Jamie Reygle, said, “We feel mindfulness is such a good fit for schools, because qualities like focus, concentration, kindness, and wisdom are critical for a truly effective school environment.”
The campaign culminated in a $1,000 donation from the Community Educational Resource Coalition (CERC) and $2,000 worth of support from the June Bug Center for Arts & Education. June Bug Executive Director, Amber Wojciechowski, said, “The JBC is excited to combine efforts with this great organization in helping expand mindfulness and education to the members of this wonderful community.”
Reygle said, “We received $5,710 from 26 separate donors in December, which is amazing considering all the other things people are dealing with at that time of year. We are incredibly grateful for all this support, and promise to put it to good use, teaching a skill that benefits everyone: the faculty, their students, their families, and the community itself. To everyone who contributed to this campaign, and to everyone else who has supported us in myriad ways throughout 2017, thank you.”
It’s that time of year when we’re all supposed to be making resolutions that we are then likely to break within a month or so. How do you feel when you ‘fail’ at something, such as a resolution? What impact does it have on the behavior you were attempting to address? If you’re like most people, you feel bad about yourself when you fail, and you are not only likely to return to the behavior, but to do so with a vengeance.
This is perfectly normal. Typically, the behavior we are addressing is one we turn to when we are not feeling ‘whole’, and we feel a whole lot less than whole when we’ve failed at some great plan.
At InStill, we feel that an intention can prove to be a lot more effective than a resolution. This may seem a little counterintuitive—a resolution is a firm decision, after all, while an intention is, well, just an intention. Intentions can seem a little wishy-washy in the face of resolutions.
But it’s so much harder to fail at an intention. Every time you don’t meet your intention, you can note this and aim to do better next time. A resolution is a much more ‘one and done’ kind of thing. Once you break it, there can a hard swing in the other direction, just like the one drink, one drunk of Alcoholics Anonymous.
And intentions can have another advantage over resolutions, in the very nature of how we address them. Resolutions tend to be about outcomes while intentions tend to be about process. I might resolve to lose 40 pounds, but I am more likely to intend to eat more healthily or exercise more. The practice of mindfulness is always about the process rather than the outcome, which is one reason why intentions are so much more relevant to this practice than resolutions.
To make them even more relevant, we would suggest you make your intentions true intentions by focusing on intrinsic goals. Instead of eating more healthily or exercising more, for instance, you might have an intention to be more contented with your body image. For some of us, this is as simple as changing the way we see ourselves; for others, this involves changing how we live our lives; and for most of us, it involves a bit of both. Sticking with the same kind of outcome, another intention might be to pay more attention to what your body is telling you. If you listen closely, you will know when it is time to eat (and when it isn’t), and how much you really need. You’ll be able to say ‘no’ to food, not because you’re trying to lose weight, but because you’ve noticed you’ve had enough, or maybe because you’ve noticed that particular type of food doesn’t work for you. If you listen closely, you will also hear your body telling you to get off your butt and get active from time-to-time.
There are also many unforeseen benefits received from setting intentions. As you begin paying more attention to your actual needs, you may also begin noticing these, too.
Happy New Year! May it be filled with positive intentions and unexpected blessings for outcomes.
We are celebrating the generosity of the Floyd community for Christmas, after receiving two big gifts towards our Make a Great Match campaign, which is aiming to raise $5,500 to pay for our InSchools faculty mindfulness training program in Floyd County Public Schools.
We made it another 10% of the way there on Friday when iBme founder and InStill Advisory Team member, Joe Klein, gave the organization $300, and Citizens Telephone Coop gave us $250.
InStill Executive Director, Jamie Reygle, said, “We are thoroughly thrilled with the support we have received from the Floyd community. We went into this campaign having no idea what to expect, and we’ve now raised $3,500 in just a couple of weeks. The generosity we have encountered gives us so much faith, not only in the people and businesses of Floyd, but also in what we are doing.”
InStill defines mindfulness as “to simply be noticing with curiosity. By doing this in the present moment, without judgment, one is able to cultivate focus, concentration, kindness, compassion, wisdom, and heartfulness towards oneself and others.”
The InSchools program teaches mindfulness to faculty from across the Floyd County Public Schools division, with the aim of giving them the skills to regularly provide mindfulness-based interventions in their classrooms, staff rooms, and throughout the school system.
You can help support the program by clicking here.
According to Promises Treatment Center, “Being emotionally sober means getting in touch with your emotions, whether positive or negative, and allowing yourself to feel them.” This, of course, is a key component of the practice of mindfulness.
As one of our teachers at InStill, Anna Pittman, likes to say, in practicing mindfulness we are not so much trying to let things go as we are trying to let them in. When we come across a difficult emotion, instead of trying to push (or wash, or pop, or smoke) it away, we welcome it in, investigate it, experience it, and give it the compassion it is longing for.
In A Course in Miracles, it says everything is either a cry for love or an expression of love. A difficult emotion is—in this context—a cry for love. In our culture we have typically been taught to deny these emotions, which simply leaves them bottled up inside. As we continue to bottle them up, they build and build until we find a way of releasing them. Drugs and alcohol appear to be great mechanisms for this, partly because they help distract us from our current reality, but also because they enable us to shift the responsibility for our words and actions from ourselves to the substance we are abusing.
If, instead, we embrace these emotions as non-judgmentally as possible, and simply notice the experience of having them, we put ourselves in a position of understanding in which we can see both where the emotion is coming from, and the impact it has on ourselves and others.
This doesn’t mean that we stop having these emotions, especially not in the short term. Indeed, as we begin to uncover some of the more difficult emotions that we’ve been trying to hide from ourselves and others, we may even experience them more often and more intensely. What it does mean is that we come to accept them as a part of who we are in this moment.
Which leads to another core concept of mindfulness: impermanence. One thing that helps drive some of our strongest emotions is identifying with them: how many times do we hear someone say something like, “I’m an angry person,” or “I’m always depressed”? There is a solidity that comes with identity, that makes it so much harder to shake off. The truth is that we are not any one of our emotions, instead we are a constantly changing conglomeration of emotions, thoughts, sensations, perceptions, and experience. With mindfulness, we come to appreciate this and become more attentive to what this is now. As Ajahn Sumedho likes to say, “Right now, it’s like this.”
When we appreciate the impermanence of an emotion, we loosen our attachment to it, and therefore our identity with it. As this happens, it becomes much easier to come to terms with it, because we are no longer looking at “me”, but “a part of me in this moment.”
So emotional sobriety is a byproduct of practicing mindfulness. This is an important point. Another key concept of mindfulness is detachment, and this includes detachment to expectation. If we practice mindfulness with the intention of developing emotional sobriety, we are much less likely to achieve it that if we practice mindfulness simply to see what happens next (or, more appropriately, to see what is happening now). Certainly, intention is important in mindfulness, but only insofar as your intention is to practice mindfulness to the best of your ability. Beyond that, intention becomes expectation, and expectation is blinkered, blinding us to the full range of possibilities that lie before us.
The only question really is, where do you start? And the answer is simple: start here, with this. Wherever here may be, and with whatever this is now. If it happens to be a difficult emotion, fantastic! If it happens to be a wonderful emotion, fantastic! If it happens to be a recurring thought, fantastic! It really doesn’t matter: just be with it and notice with curiosity what you have before you. That is all mindfulness really is.
We would like to say a very big THANK YOU to OMNIBUILD General Contractors for their generous donation of $500 for our InSchools public school mindfulness program, presented here to InStill Executive Director Jamie Reygle by OMNIBUILD owner Matt Sebas.
These funds go towards teaching mindfulness to faculty members from over 10 local public schools, potentially impacting thousands of children in Southwest Virginia for years to come!
In our ongoing quest to instill mindfulness throughout the region, InStill Mindfulness SWVA is launching Knowvember next month, with a series of retreats and classes, as well as our new InSchools intensive training program for faculty in Floyd and Montgomery County Public Schools.
The Breathing Space is hosting a fundraiser for our InSchools public schools program next Saturday, September 9. A Day of Inspirationis a meditation and movement fundraiser featuring a day full of fascinating workshops and classes by some of the best teachers in the area (including representatives from InStill), as well as food from the Till & Grill food truck. So please, come along and support a great cause, while also feeding your body and soul.
It is well known in mindfulness circles that things change. Constantly. Finding peace with this incontrovertible fact is, in many ways, the core objective of mindfulness itself.
Here at InStill we are noticing a lot of changes: changes in space, appearance, and activity.
Last week we moved into our new office at the Floyd Center of the Arts. We feel this will enable us to better interface with the public, both through greater visibility and accessibility, and also because we should be able to utilize this location for regular mindfulness classes and other activities. We are very happy to be here, and our arms are open should you wish to drop in and say hello. We need to make a few finishing touches, including some floor coverings and art for the walls, but we’re off to a good start with a table and bookshelf designed and donated by The Natural Woodworking Company, as well as a desk and filing cabinet donated by InStill board members Swede McBroom and Steve Weber.
Thanks to friend and supporter Parrish Lee, we also have a new logo, which we are very happy with. Our original logo was designed by our Executive Director, Jamie Reygle, who is the first to tell you he is not a designer. Fortunately, Parrish is. He has been working with us to design everything from flyer templates to business cards, and came up with this logo based on the Japanese minimalist ensō (or circle). Since we’re always gathering in circles at InStill, this seemed like a great symbol to represent us.
And finally, we’re looking at how to most effectively deliver our programming. We have received some wonderful feedback from our last semester working with thousands of middle school students, with one survey indicating:
95.9% of them enjoyed the classes;
87.7% of them said it had a positive effect on their experience of school;
85.9% of them said it had a positive effect on their self-esteem; and
79.5% of them said it had a positive effect on their relationships!
It is so rewarding to know our work is having a positive impact, and we are always looking at ways to deepen that impact. One thing we have found is that it is imperative to have as much buy-in as possible from teachers – not just in supporting what we do, but immersing themselves in it as well. For this reason, we are currently in discussions with Pure Edge, with the intention of delivering their proven professional development programming here in southwest Virginia, which will then enable teachers here on the ground to develop their own mindful classrooms, and instill mindfulness in their students and colleagues on an ongoing basis.