By Eric Michael B.
Every Wednesday evening from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm ET, a diverse group of people from across the United States gather online and over the phone. They gather to practice mindfulness, share challenges and successes (both big and small), and connect together in shared community. Since these calls are hosted through Zoom, a popular free video conference platform, people who might not normally be able to meet and learn from one another across great distances are able to connect in an accessible way. Many of these individuals are teens who’ve previously attended, or might be interested in attending, iBme retreats. Others are highly skilled iBme mentors. And some are members of iBme’s groundbreaking teacher training program. Anyone who identifies as a member of the iBme community is welcome to attend this weekly program, called Sit and Share.
One recent session was facilitated by David Hart, an arts educator, mindfulness instructor, and longtime friend of iBme. Hart began the evening as many facilitators do, by offering participants the opportunity to “check-in” and respond to the question: “What is one thing you are grateful for tonight”? In order to maintain a high degree of confidentiality, participants’ responses won’t be quoted here, though many expressed appreciation for their friendships, their families, and for personal milestones. After checking in, Hart outlined the structure for the rest of the call, saying he hoped participants could use the Sit and Share program as a chance to find “time to rest and restore.”
Prior to beginning the meditation session, Hart briefly shared his experience of reading a recent article by NBA player Kevin Love. In the article, Love writes about his struggle with panic attacks and reminds readers that “everyone is going through something,” even though we may not be able to see it. Hart reflected on his experience reading the article and asked participants to contemplate Love’s words, asking: “How are you showing up for yourself” in the midst of day-to-day life? “How are you befriending yourself” when challenges arise?
Having raised these questions, Hart began the meditation session by offering guidance on how to use the breath and simple body scans to help let go of the stresses of the day and feel grounded in the present moment. At the end of the half-hour mindfulness practice, Hart asked participants one final “check-out” question: “What’s one thing self-care could look like for you this week”? Participants volunteered a wide array of ideas they could use take to care of and befriend themselves in the week ahead, ranging from concrete actions around eating and sleeping to more general commitments to honesty and open communication.
At the close of the hour, Hart offered the group a quote from New York Times bestselling author Jen Sincero: “Because we’re so set in our ways and committed to our stories about who we are and what reality looks like, we only scratch the surface of all that’s available to us every single moment.” Bearing these words in mind, participants expressed appreciation for one another and said their goodbyes — at least until next Wednesday evening, when this unique community of teens, educators, and mindfulness practitioners can join together in shared community once again.
You can find recordings of previous Sit and Share meditations and a schedule of future sessions here.