For more than a decade, Tools for Peace has been working with people of all ages—primarily students—to encourage them to exhibit kindness and compassion in their daily lives. The organization, which is based in Pasadena, California, does most of its outreach via classrooms, after-school programs and summer camps for teens. But, now, Tools for Peace is expanding its efforts into the digital world, aiming to serve its base and reach a wider audience with the creation of a meditation app for iPhones and iPads called Stop, Breathe & Think.
Why meditation? "Meditation is a really useful skill. You can change your whole frame of mind with just a few minutes of meditation. Imagine how different our interactions with family, or people at school or work, would be if we just took a few minutes to shift into a more calm and compassionate state of mind," says Jamie Price, executive director of Tools for Peace, which created the concept for the app in-house, then worked with One Long House, a cooperative of designers and programmers, to produce it.
There are numerous meditation apps available out there, but Price says the interactive check-in feature of the Stop, Breathe & Think app sets it apart from the rest of the field. "The app gives you the option to check-in with how you are doing, mentally and physically, and then presents a list of meditations tailored specifically to you," Price says, noting, "The check-in process is a simple way to quiet down, be still and figure out what’s going on inside. Then the recommended meditations are meant to be a support, to help you deal with whatever is going on. The app creates a log of your process, and you can share what you're up to."
The app is also unique in that it has two sets of meditations—one for adults and one for teens. Tools for Peace has already integrated use of the app into all of its school programs, and the students enjoying using it, Price says.
There is an audience well beyond the educational realm for the app, according to Price, who believes meditation is beneficial for anyone who works in a creative field. "The meditations in the app can help you get calm, clear, and focused," Price says. "They can also help you create the mental space for inspiration. If your creative process has to do with understanding and communicating with people, the meditations are geared to help you put yourself in another person's shoes and really try to imagine their experience."
Singer k.d. lang, who volunteered at a Tools for Peace summer camp and supports the organization's mission, swears by meditation. She tells Co.Create that "it opens us up to explore thoughts and ideas that the internal editor might otherwise shut down." Creative people ranging from Russell Simmons to Ariana Huffington have also extolled the virtues of meditation, and a few years ago filmmaker David Lynch wrote Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity, a book explaining how meditation has helped him reach his creative potential.
Meanwhile, a study conducted in 2012 by researchers from Leiden University in the Netherlands showed that certain styles of meditation do indeed foster creative thinking.
Have any of you seen creative benefits from meditation?