On March 13th we moved into our new, large office space with excitement for what the future held for Calmer Choice and the programming department. Our time was before us to finally be able to offer our community programs in our own beautiful space. Then life seemingly stopped as schools, businesses, and families shut down.
We began to experience what others in the world were already experiencing and discovered very quickly that the “new” normal was to be here for a while. Like many in the business communities, the past few months have taken quite a turn for us at Calmer Choice as we began to work from home. When the seriousness of the pandemic became apparent and the Massachusetts guidelines were put in place on March 17th we were In the midst of delivering the 2nd wave of our in school programming, providing four community programs, and leading 28 individuals through our 2019-2020 instructor training program.
We were required to discontinue ALL of this work. Fortunately, in short order, we became creative and pivoted our focus. Our team brainstormed and asked, “How can we continue to provide our programming, especially in this time of need?” With a lot of support from our programming staff and instructors, we were able to develop, rather quickly, a way to engage with people as they were confined to their homes.
We began with an idea for engaging families with kids while being at home. We created a playlist on YouTube called Mindful Moments. It is a collection of short mindful practices, fun ways to engage with your family, lessons on mindful awareness, strategies for practicing mindful awareness and mindful books read by Calmer Choice Instructors. From this base idea we then created two more playlists called: Guided Practice Series for Teens and Adults and Mindful Awareness Audio Practices for Kids.
Our programming team has stayed in touch virtually with our Calmer Choice instructors and our school based instructors, providing support and continued practice of mindful awareness. We quickly shifted the community classes that were in process, to an online platform and were able to finish out our 8-week courses via Zoom. To date, we have now launched a six-week online course and are currently finishing up six sections of this new offering! Our current plan is to continue this virtual course beginning every eight weeks. You can see a current schedule of the course here. We hope to be offering a “level 2” community course in the fall, so stay tuned! Support to the community has also been offered via the Zoom platform with weekly mindful awareness practice sessions.
Our 2019-2020 instructor training ended last week with the final phase, which was recreated by two of our instructors into an online retreat. Although disappointed to not be ending in person, we were able to find creative ways to engage the trainees virtually and bring it to completion.
In February we submitted an application to the state to become a professional development provider, a long-time goal. We have received the exciting news that as of April 1st, we are officially approved by the state of Massachusetts to be a provider for teachers to earn Professional Development Points which are needed for continued state licensure. We are currently working on what is necessary to provide individuals participating in our courses the ability to receive graduate-level credit as well.
The pandemic has also opened up an opportunity for us to start a Calmer Choice blog, which shares various perspectives on mindfulness and personal practice. We hope to be able to have a variety of writers share their personal experience with mindfulness while continuing to share the Calmer Choice story.
So, although life in many ways became still on March 17th, Calmer Choice programming did not. Calmer Choice was created in response to crisis in the community and we are honored to continue our work in serving the needs of the community… day in, day out, …crisis or not.