Mindful Grocery Stores and Twitter Feeds

Catch up with the latest news and notables as mindfulness goes mainstream.

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English Schools Try Mindfulness 

More than 350 schools across England are taking part in a study, launched by the UK government, that will see students and teachers learning a variety of practices for emotional wellness, including mindfulness, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques, guided by experts. The two-year study will yield data on what works best in schools to support young people’s mental well-being.

Sensory-Friendly Shopping 

The sensory onslaught of large, busy stores deters many people with autism from buying groceries. Inspired by a class of 4th-graders who learned about sensory challenges and autism and then wrote letters to the Canadian grocery chain Sobeys, a partnership between Autism Nova Scotia and Sobeys is making space for “sensory-friendly shopping.” During Sunday evenings, at stores around the Canadian Maritimes, lights are dimmed, music and loud noise is hushed, and extra staff are present. Sobeys workers report appreciating the calmer mood as much as their customers. Executive Director of Autism NS Cynthia Carroll says it’s an exciting step toward allowing those with sensory processing challenges to move through their communities with greater ease and autonomy. 

Mindful Aviator

In the world of aviation, mental health is a tricky subject: A pilot who is diagnosed with depression or anxiety and doesn’t disclose it to their airline is at risk of prosecution from the Federal Aviation Administration. A pilot who’s diagnosed and does disclose it faces immediate grounding. Carl Eisen was in that exact predicament in 2007, when, in his midforties, his doctor prescribed him antidepressants and recommended therapy. Eisen was grounded for a year, during which he discovered meditation. “I understood immediately that that’s what had been missing.” He meditated for 20 minutes a day, and after a month his “anxiety level was almost to zero.”

More than a decade later, Eisen is now a certified mindfulness teacher and runs Mindful Aviator, an online resource that makes mindfulness and meditation accessible to airline pilots.

Eisen hopes talking openly about mental health will someday be as common among pilots as any other topic. “With the drug and alcohol program, they introduce it at training. But we do not have conversations about mental health in training. We just need to have the conversation for real, out in the open.”

Mindfulness in Arabic

Mindfulness in Arabic, a free online program, aims to provide trauma-informed mindfulness training in Arabic to refugees fleeing violence in their home countries. Developed by JuDitta Ben-David, a mindfulness teacher and therapist specializing in trauma, the effort has been supported with input from leaders in the mindfulness community, social workers on the front lines of refugee relocation efforts, and Arabic language specialists. The eight-week program is designed to be used by aid workers at refugee camps as well as by refugees who have online access—some of whom are in transit, and others who have relocated to cities around the world.   

Join Mindfulness in Arabic founder Juditta Ben-David, MA SEP and Jamie Pragya Marich, PhD, for the latest episode in the MiA webinar series Mindfulness and Embodiment: Trauma-Informed Mindfulness in Crisis Areas on March 17, 2020.

Eyes Off the Road

People often say they want to meditate but can’t find the time. Ride service Uber, partnering with meditation app Calm, is solving that modern dilemma by giving British passengers the opportunity to experience 3- to-30-minute mindfulness sessions en route, without a moment’s disruption to their busy lives.  

Acts of Kindness

When Twitter user Michael Beatty made a jab at comedian and actor Patton Oswalt in response to a politically charged tweet, Oswalt first responded with a lighthearted joke. He then checked out Beatty’s Twitter feed, only to discover the man was a Vietnam vet who had recently set up a crowd-funding campaign seeking $5,000 to pay medical bills resulting from sepsis, diabetic ketoacidosis, and a coma. Oswalt donated $2,000 and shared the campaign with his massive online following. Within 24 hours, the campaign had raised more than $35,000. 

Ron and Sharleen Gillies were driving to see Sharleen’s dying mother when they got into a minor car accident. A man named Dean Moore noticed the couple by the side of the road and stopped to help. Hearing their story, Moore drove the Gillies 200 miles out of his way so the couple could say goodbye to Sharleen’s mother, who died the next day.

27-year-old Altavious Powell noticed the home of his 93-year-old neighbor, Maria Cabral, was on fire. He rushed over and smashed a window with the cast on his broken arm to rescue her.