A week or so into his first term of kindergarten, my eldest son came home asking to listen to "balloon bellies." After some investigation, I came to understand that he was referring to a meditation. Specifically, a Smiling Mind breath meditation.
Considering Isaac’s previous listening requests had consisted almost exclusively of The Greatest Showman Soundtrack and Scatman by Scatman John (honestly), I knew Smiling Mind must be on to something.
It turned out his class were undertaking a daily meditation practice after lunchtime, with the help of Smiling Mind. Isaac told me it made him feel calm and ready to learn (“and I’ve only fallen asleep ONCE, Mum!”). Cue: frantic downloading of the app and a personal mission to make this part of our lives.
So it was somewhat serendipitous when I was offered the opportunity to interview Jane Martino, the founder of this life-shifting app. And what I discovered was not only a surprise, but a joy. Because Jane is living proof that meditation works. Not just in slowing our breath and in keeping us calm, but in helping to achieve to our maximum capacity. She has the resume to prove it.
Renowned for developing thriving businesses, Jane has been a finalist in the Telstra Young Business Women’s Awards, built one of Australia’s top communications agencies, is a published author (of the gorgeous Thank You series), founded a fundraising platform, is on a series of boards, and oh yes, has three children.
But Smiling Mind may just be her most exciting achievement to date. Combining her love of young people and meditation, Smiling Mind creates a modern approach to mindfulness that kids (and adults) can incorporate seamlessly into their lives, in order to better cope with everyday stresses. The result? More resilience, gratitude, happiness and an opportunity to give back to the community. If that isn’t exactly what we’re looking for in our kids and ourselves, I don’t know what is.
Here’s what Jane had to say …
When did you start meditating? What prompted you to start?
I started meditating just after becoming a mother, now almost 15 years ago! I think it was a combination of intense sleep deprivation and no longer having the energy to resist it after so many friends trying to rope me in that meant I just jumped into it.
I was busy building a business and adjusting to motherhood – and I had, for so long, said to my friends who recommended it I was ‘too busy’ to meditate. Of course I now know that is EXACTLY why I needed it and when it works most effectively – oh the benefit of hindsight.
How long did it take for you to notice a difference in your mood/day/life as a result of meditation?
Almost immediately. Like anything you are training, making it a regular part of your life and embedding it into a routine it certainly compounds over time. However, I felt different within days of beginning. Even after quite a short session your body certainly feels different – I really notice this when doing our meditations in groups or with my family from our new families program.
Even if just five minutes, people come out of the meditations and there is a much greater sense of calm in the room.
In addition – it has been clinically proven that a positive impact can be felt as soon as after 10 consecutive days of 10-minute sessions. It really is unlike anything else that we all have access to, to help ourselves be at our best – I call it a gift!