Chris McKenna

“Just Breathe” Original Film

This incredible video was filmed and created by one of our Mindful Schools graduates, Julie Bayer Salzman. We’d like you to watch it and then share it with everyone you know. It’s that good.

Artist’s statement:

The inspiration for “Just Breathe” first came about a little over a year ago when I overheard my then 5-year-old son talking with his friend about how emotions affect different regions of the brain, and how to calm down by taking deep breaths — all things they were beginning to learn in Kindergarten at their new school, Citizens of the World Charter School, in Mar Vista, CA. I was surprised and overjoyed to witness first-hand just how significant social-emotional learning in an elementary school curriculum was on these young minds. The following year, I decided to take a 6-week online course on mindfulness through Mindful Schools, figuring that if my son was learning about this, it only made sense that I should learn too. Within the first week, I felt the positive effects of this practice take root not only on my own being but in my relationships with others.

As a filmmaker, I am always interested in finding a subject worthy of filming, and I felt strongly that Mindfulness was a necessary concept to communicate visually. Thankfully my husband, who happens to be my filmmaking partner, agreed. We made “Just Breathe” with our son, his classmates and their family members one Saturday afternoon. The film is entirely unscripted – what the kids say is based purely on their own neuro-scientific understanding of difficult emotions, and how they cope through breathing and meditation. They, in turn, are teaching us all …

– “Just Breathe” by Julie Bayer Salzman & Josh Salzman (Wavecrest Films)

Randima Fernando

Welcoming a New Year

All of us at Mindful Schools hope that your 2015 is off to a spectacular start!

As the year begins, interest in secular mindfulness has grown to an all-time high – with coverage in Time Magazine, 60 Minutes, countless contemporary books, and new research released almost every day, mindfulness has truly made it into the mainstream.

The notion that mindfulness is getting so much exposure is wonderful for all of us, whether we are practicing it personally or applying it in fields like education, health care, therapy, and so many others. If we pay close attention to the fidelity with which mindfulness is taught and represented, it has the potential to profoundly transform the way people of all ages and backgrounds relate to themselves, to others, and to the challenges and opportunities of being human.

For Mindful Schools, the essence of the Mindfulness in Education movement is transformation from the inside out. This organic, bottom-up approach is quite different from the typical education movement where an intervention is designed and implemented from the top down via policy, testing, or fiscal pressures. Educators have seen such interventions come and go numerous times, and they need an approach that genuinely puts their needs first. Our philosophy is to meet educators where they are – to start by aiding them with their own stress, well-being, and job satisfaction, and then offering the option to learn how to use mindfulness in their work with youth if they are moved to do so.

Our goal is to create a widespread, well-trained, and peer-supported network of mindful educators who are passionate about mindfulness because of their personal experience with it. We believe that these “early adopters” who lead the movement will inspire people around them to learn more – and we are thrilled that this is exactly what we have been seeing in our course enrollments. What began as individual registrations years ago has now grown to larger groups and entire schools driven by genuine interest in mindfulness rather than mandated policy – all as a result of the passion and dedication of our amazing community of graduates.

We are deeply grateful to all of you who have walked this path with us, whether you’ve taken our courses, supported us financially, advised us, volunteered, introduced funders, or assisted in any other way. All your actions, large or small, make a difference: conversing with your colleagues over lunch, commenting and sharing on social media, participating in course forums, or trying new mindfulness ideas with youth.

We thank you for all the innumerable ways that you’ve made it possible for thousands of educators and countless youth around the world to share the precious gift of mindfulness.

Our entire team wishes you the very best in happiness, health, and success in all that is truly important to you in 2015 and beyond. We have some very special announcements coming in the next few months, and we eagerly look forward to continuing this journey together with you.


Sincerely yours,

our-organization-randima-fernandoRandima (Randy) Fernando
Executive Director
Mindful Schools

Chris McKenna

Holiday Mindfulness

Below is a short excerpt from this week’s Mindfulness Fundamentals with Guiding Teacher Kevin Griffin, longtime practitioner and addiction-recovery specialist:

One of my favorite movie lines is from Airplane, where Lloyd Bridges says, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.” It’s one in a long line of gags about how difficult it is to change our habits. This week as the pressures of the holidays build, you might find yourself saying, “Looks like l picked the wrong week to practice mindfulness.” What with shopping, cooking, family responsibilities, and socializing, it may seem unmanageable to keep up with your practice. In fact, though, this might be the perfect time to practice. Now is the time when you can really benefit from being present. Can you enjoy the fun part and relax a little around the busy part? Can you breathe and calm yourself when the food is taking too long to cook? Can you let go of control when the kids are going wild, the doorbell is ringing, and you realize you forgot to pick up an extra quart of milk?

Whenever our routine gets shaken up with holidays, our regular healthy behaviors can get disrupted. Sure, you might not have time to sit with your breath as much as you have been; maybe you’ll fall a little behind in the material. But you can always pay attention. I find it really helpful to bring mindfulness to these unusual types of circumstances. I get to notice different feelings, thoughts, and sensations. And I get to see how memories of past holidays affect the present moment in terms of expectations, traditions, and habitual reactions.

I hope you’ll find this to be a rich week for practice. And for those celebrating, Happy Holidays!

~ Kevin Griffin


Chris McKenna

Apply to our Year-Long Certification

We’ve officially launched the application to our 2015-16 Year-Long Certification!

We invite you to join us in this inspired work and bring mindfulness into your community.

A heartfelt thanks to our 2013-14 graduating class who created a scholarship fund to ensure ongoing support of this compassionate community of educators.

Sunset photo credit: 2014 retreat grounds by Patricio Madrigal Cauduro, Year-Long Graduate