I take time each morning to stretch and breathe. Focus on nothing but the breath and being grateful for having those breaths because we never know when its our last. Practice the attitude of gratitude. Each morning before your feet hit the floor and you get into your routine, take 30 seconds to be grateful. Be grateful for three different things, taking 10 seconds to FEEL that gratitude for each. Write down what they are before your coffee or breakfast. Find different things for each day then restart again at the beginning of the week.
As a part of my series about the things we can do to develop serenity and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Walker.
He is a Rhyme Master, Rap Coach, and Qualified Mental Health Professional with a Masters in Educational Psychology and Counseling. Jeff uses his unique healing techniques with clients across the world for over 15 years. He is the creator of Rhymecology, which uses the power of hip-hop lyrics and culture to help people express, discover, and re-create their stories. Jeff’s products include his books, “Rhymecology: Using Hip-Hop to Heal” and “The Art of Hip-Hop Lyrics”, as well as the new “The Rhymecology Game, all of which connect therapists, counselors, and teachers, to the youth of whom they serve. Jeff has been featured on ESPN, 60 Minutes, Fox Sports, Inside the NBA, HuffPost, and more.
Rhymecology® helps people express, discover, and create themselves through the study and power of hip-hop lyrics and culture.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I developed Rhymecology as a way to combine Hip-Hop and Mental Health. I had been working in the Community Mental Health field in the day and recording and performing as an artist in Hollywood, at night. I loved helping people but at the same time I loved writing and performing. I decided that I didn’t/couldn’t sacrifice either so I combined them to create Rhymecology.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most interesting story would have to be when I nervously got up to perform my newly written spoken word poem, called Therapy, in front of my mental health peers. In the poem I play the character of both a therapist and client (at-risk). I thought I may have been booed or scorned but I ended up getting a standing ovation and many of the audience had tears in their eyes.
What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?
I would tell other leaders that it is all about your passion. If your passion is not viable to make a living from, then combine your passion with what you do. There are so many ways, especially in today’s awkward working times, that one can combine creativity, joy and passions with the day job. Every person in your office is “a person” who wants to have more fun and love in their life, just like you. So bring what you are passionate about to the table!
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
For me its about the Law of Attraction. There were two books and movies which encapsulated that idea. One was called “What the Bleep Do We Know” and the other was called “The Secret”. The first focused a lot of metaphysics while the later focused a lot on the Law of Attraction which, of course, means you get what you focus on. When I became more cognisant of my thoughts, I started to see more and more magical things happening and as I saw those happen, I would notice them, look up and say “Thank you, I will have another please” and they continued to pour in. And still do.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?
I find Mindfulness as a fantastic approach to getting centered. We are human beings who are so often running around, trying to make ends meet, make sure our kids have what they need, making sure our parents are okay, making sure the house is clean etc etc…that we forget to praise and get in touch with our own temple, which is our mind, body and spirit. We all feel good when we give time and energy to ONE of those three but Mindfulness is a perfect way to align the three.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?
Becoming mindful is focusing on our mind, body and spirit. When we notice how we are breathing, thinking or feeling, we become more aware of this body we live in and the human experience we are having on earth. This makes us feel more present and as a result more grateful. And the more present and grateful are, the better we feel. The benefits pour in.
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.
Meditate. I take time each morning to stretch and breathe. Focus on nothing but the breath and being grateful for having those breaths because we never know when its our last.
Practice the attitude of gratitude. Each morning before your feet hit the floor and you get into your routine, take 30 seconds to be grateful. Be grateful for three different things, taking 10 seconds to FEEL that gratitude for each. Write down what they are before your coffee or breakfast. Find different things for each day then restart again at the beginning of the week.
Ensure self care through “Me Moments.” Days are hectic, having children, work, partner, dog, billis, etc…so do not apologize for taking “Me Moments”. This could be a small nap, It could be walking around the block, it could be grabbing a magazine or book or even watching a show…whatever it is, make sure that you allow yourself those moments just for you.
Physical Health. It can be one of the hardest things for adults to do but what I tell myself all the time is, “no one ever worked out and said ‘Damn, I wish I didn’t do that”. 100% of the time you feel good after, not many things can boast that success rate.
Feel love. Take a moment everyday to love yourself, look in the mirror and love YOURSELF. If you have a partner or children, make sure to have physical hugs and contact. Look at them in the eyes once a day and check in with them and let them know they are loved. When you feel that love without asking for anything in return, you will feel better and ironically get things in return.
From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
The most important thing one can do is to empathize with those around us. So many times, we feel like we have to have the answer for someone who is going through something. In my experience, don’t offer the solution unless they as for it. There is so much power in saying “I hear you”, “That must be really hard” or “How can I help?’
If after listening, it seems like they are paralyzed with doubt or fear, then you may need to be the catalyst to action. Bring over a their favorite meal, take them on a walk, actually do a meditation or yoga WITH them. Lead by example.
What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?
There is an app which one can download onto your phone, laptop or streaming device (I use the Apple TV) called Calm. In this app there are mindfulness meditations and serene scenes of nature that can play for hours on end.
Also any sort of stretching or Yoga with relaxing music is a fantastic way to be mindful. It is recommended to do in the morning. This music can be purchased on record, CD, or can stream on Spotify or even just YouTube. Search for “Meditation Music” or “Mindfulness Music” and see what suits you best.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My favorite life lesson is to “Do what you do best and let the universe work out the rest”. The reason why this is important is that when you are focused on your passion and your skill, you are constantly in a state of flow. You are energized and active and the universe will respond to that by helping providing the assistance needed for “the rest”.
I have always focused on my writing and helping people. I am a hip-hop lyricist and a spoken word performer who uses the power of rhyme to help others feel better about themselves and the world they live in. I never focused on becoming a producer, or going into sales because that is what “I should do”. No, I always focused on what I did best and in fact, the universe has helped with the rest.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The movement I started is called Rhymecology. Rhymecology helps people express, discover and create themselves through the power of the written and spoken word in Hip-Hop Culture.
What is the best way our readers can follow you online?
I am best followed on Instagram @rhymecology and on my website www.rhymecology.com
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!