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Mindful : August 2014
Changing Minds Jesse Torrence (profiled opposite page) first began Minds, Inc., as a sister orga- nization to Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme), taking the mindfulness retreat model to schools in the Wash- ington, DC-area. “I was working at the World Bank, staring at a cubicle eight hours a day, Excel sheets up and down—I thought I could use a break,” he says. “I went on an iBme retreat and I was really blown away. The sense of connection the kids were getting—kids who were cutting themselves, or feeling suicidal. Whatever end of the spectrum they were on, if they were struggling or suffering, within a few days I could see the dif- ference. They were able to take off their masks, really be seen and see each other. I’d never seen that, and I’d worked with youth before.” Torrence, who studied public policy and develop- ment at Har vard and worked with volunteers on the 2008 Obama campaign in Ohio, was sure his group could take the practice, the playfulness, and the deep connection students experienced at retreats and apply them to ever yday school To see video of Jesse Torrence in action, go to mindful.org/torrence environments. He found like- minded suppor t from iBme founder Joe Klein, along with Tara Brach, Hugh Byrne, and Glen Harrison at the Insight Meditation Community of Washington (IMCW), to help his organization connect with parents, volunteers, experi- enced mindfulness instructors, and city educators. Minds, Inc., is now ser ving more than 20 schools, almost 3,000 kids, 500 teachers, and about 600 parents—all with no adver tising or marketing. All publicity is word of mouth, which builds longer-term sus- tainability into the model, says Torrence. “We’re empowering the people involved by asking them to help us get the word out. They open doors.” Qualified mindfulness instructors are walking through those doors. “We’re ver y selec- tive about who we put in the classroom, our teaching core. They’ve trained and practiced for years. They bring a tremen- dous amount of expertise.” ● PHOTOGRAPHBY©IOFOTO/VEER