Calmer Choice, non-profit organization in Barnstable, Massachusetts Calmer Choice, non-profit organization in Barnstable, Massachusetts

Programming Updates, August 2020

As the summer begins to wind down, Calmer Choice is gearing up! We have spent these last few months preparing, planning and experimenting with new ways of delivering mindfulness to the community. With the uncertainty around re-opening plans for schools, we are preparing to provide and support schools in a multitude of formats. While we sometimes find ourselves with Zoom fatigue, we have been humbled and amazed by the power our curriculum has over a virtual platform. Here are a few highlights of what we’ve been up to and what’s to come…

In planning for the fall school re-opening we came to the realization that even if students are back to schools in some capacity- we will probably not be going to schools in person, for safety reasons. Despite our love for being able to connect in person with children, we feel confident we can still support the social- emotional well-being of students virtually. We are going to be working with Cape Cod Media Center to develop our lessons in video format for schools that choose this option. We currently have two virtual pilot programs for kids running this month to “test” out providing our lessons “live” to children. Preparations for supporting teachers during this time is also a top priority as we segue into new ways of moving in the world.

Our team of instructors have been teaching community classes as well as providing free mindfulness practice groups three times a week.

We are preparing to start our third round of virtual community classes on August 19th (register online here).

Initially we offered a 6-week mindfulness course and are moving back to our original 8-week format for this next round of classes. The addition of offering PDPs (professional development points) has been such a gift for teachers!

We are also working on being able to offer graduate credit for our 8-week course (stay tuned for more details on that!). The response to our virtual offerings has been overwhelming, and we are reaching far beyond Cape Cod! Here is a recent testimonial about the impact of the course on one participant:

I had the honor of participating in the 6 week Calmer Choice course offered to educators during the pandemic. This experience was truly life changing for me during a very challenging time spiritually, emotionally, and physically. When the pandemic first began and schools across the state closed, and then the stay at home advisory was put in place, anxiety took over in my world.

I faced not only the physical isolation created by COVID, but also the emotional isolation inside myself that I felt for a number of reasons. The pandemic created a state of loss....loss of a job, loss of in person social interactions and in person learning, loss of physical touch (hugs, handshakes) from others, loss of hope, and a loss of security. Fear set in for many, including myself, as uncertainty pervaded our world. Even greater for me, during this time, was the grief I felt and began to process for the first time since the loss of my son back in 2016.

Calmer Choice was offered to me at the perfect time. Calmer Choice simply stated gave me a calmer choice, a choice to practice mindfulness....a choice I could choose at any moment in time...whenever or wherever I wanted. Just knowing a had this choice available to me whenever I needed it brought me comfort. The choice to practice mindfulness always exists. I can choose to practice mindfulness when I am stressed. I can choose to practice mindfulness when I am fearful. I can choose to practice mindfulness when overwhelmed, when tired, when energized, when happy, when sad, when grateful, when ungrateful, when jealous, when worried, when anxious, when angry, when calm, when peaceful. If I choose it, I can practice it. I can practice focusing on my breath, the sensations I feel in my body and the sounds I hear around me.

The fall is also a time when our instructors come together for training and preparation to teach. On the forefront of our training plans this year is a way to respond appropriately to trauma and racial issues confronting our nation. We are preparing to dive deeply into these inter-connected areas in order to provide relevant and impactful programs.