Meditation at 30,000 Feet

Explore how children, bakers, barbers, marines, police officers, and even an entire flight of people 30,000 feet over Syndey, Australia are proving that mindfulness is not a “soft skill,” it’s an essential craft.

Eniko Kis/Unsplash

Mindfulness meets baking

Just like with meditation practice, research has found baking can help reduce anxiety and increase well-being. So why not mix—or knead, or braid—the two together? Baker Ian Waterland, who worked in health and social care for 28 years before changing careers, is leading Mindful Bread workshops out of his bakery in Leicestershire, England. The workshops will offer instruction in bread baking alongside guided practices in engaging the senses and mindful breathing. 

Salesforce supports mindfulness for kids

Software giant Salesforce has made mindfulness a central theme in its philanthropy. The company, which is based in San Francisco, has pledged $15.5 million to two Bay Area school districts to bolster computer science programs, train teachers, and support mindfulness training for students. 

Mindfulness lifts off

You may have meditated on a plane before—either on your own or using one of the in-flight entertainment guided meditation programs offered by many big airlines including Delta, British Airways, and, as of October, American Airlines—but now the trend is really taking off. In October 2018, to launch its partnership with nonprofit Smiling Mind, Virgin Australia hosted a one-time “meditation flight.” Virgin’s founder Sir Richard Branson, VIP passengers, and company employees meditated at 30,000 feet while being treated to hot towel service and hand massages. Smiling Mind’s guided practices are now part of VA’s in-flight entertainment. Sadly, hand massages will not be included.

To pause and protect

In a mindfulness trial in Bedfordshire, England, 72 police officers who took part reported, on average, decreased burnout, while a number also reported better sleep, reduced pain medication use, and lower reactivity. Encouraged by these results, the UK College of Policing is funding an eight-week mindfulness trial for 1,500 officers, aiming to improve officers’ listening skills, firearms handling, and management of high-adrenaline confrontations. Nerys Thomas, head of research at the college, told the Guardian that if the positive results continue the program may be rolled out to all forces in England and Wales. 

Tell it to the barber

Talking about emotional distress isn’t easy for some men. The Confess Project aims to remove the stigma by bringing these topics out into the open in a safe environment: the barbershop. The Beyond the Shop initiative partners with barbers in communities of color throughout the South and Midwest to present mental wellness events and train barbers to recognize signs of depression among their clients.  

Mindfulness for Marines

At Camp Hansen, in Okinawa, the US Marines is trying a more progressive approach for those sent to the brig for infractions such as alcohol abuse. The Marines follow a strict code that can lead to discharge for even relatively minor infractions, but the new program at Hansen, emphasizing mindful pauses to re-orient oneself and goal-setting, focuses on reintegration. With positive reviews from commanders and participants alike, the program may soon be implemented at stateside bases. 

Acts of Kindness 

In an often bleak and depressing social media world, someone (@bookoisseur) asked people to share their experiences of kindness from strangers. The responses were heartwarming:

“I was flying home bc my dad was dying. The woman next to me asked if I was ok (I clearly wasn’t) and I wound up spilling my guts. She held my hand the entire flight, then hugged me and kissed my forehead when we landed.”– @kym_possible23

“I was homeless. It was in a suburb of Chicago in the winter, well below freezing. I’d not eaten or really slept in days. A Pakistani family who owned a Dunkin’ Donuts invited me in, fed me hot soup and donuts. They very literally saved my life.” –@lynlandon

“Once I was feeling like I could vanish and it wouldn’t matter and didn’t ride my bus two days in a row and when I got it the bus driver was just like ‘Glad you’re back. I was worried’ and I bawled.” –@xandradhartmann

Apps to help you disconnect


Flipd diverts digital distractions by locking you out of nonessential apps for your desired amount of time. The app is designed to up your intentional screen-free time.  


Put down your phone and help the environment? Forest is partnered with an environmental nonprofit that plants trees when users earn credits, which you do by staying off your phone. While it’s not in use, cute little trees “grow” into a forest on the screen. Aww. 

Screen Time

With their new Screen Time feature, Apple devices now let you track your screen habits—such as how often you receive notifications or pick up your iPhone or iPad—and set limits for how long you can spend on your most-used apps.