“Think of your phone as a communication tool, instead of a source of entertainment. This will help to make the time you spend on the phone ‘quality time,’ instead of simply passing the time.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Price, co-Founder and President of Stop, Breathe & Think. Jamie left the ranks of Fortune 500 America with the intention of creating positive change in our world. She is one of the founders of Tools For Peace™, a non-profit that has been teaching mindfulness and meditation to inner-city teens for the past 17 years. She has also led the development of the initial Stop, Breathe & Think app. She was previously the VP of Internet Development for American Golf Corporation, where she developed the internet strategy for the largest golf management company in the world. She started her career as a financial analyst at Smith Barney. Jamie has studied and practiced meditation under the guidance of a traditionally trained buddhist teacher, Lama Chodak Gyatso Nubpa since 2000.
I was raised in a conservative family, and believe me when I tell you, there was one right way to live, and that was it. My father was a successful businessman, and the entire family was involved. The prevailing belief was that a life worth living was one where you worked hard and hopefully earned a great living. So I did what was expected of me. I attended the best university I could, went on to law school, and took a job an at investment bank. . And that’s when I met a Tibetan Buddhist teacher by the name of Ven. Lama Chödak Gyatso Nubpa. Here was a man whose entire framework for a “life worth living” was kindness and compassion. He was spectacular — utterly content, and tirelessly generous. He was on a mission. He believed that if people made compassion their priority, and understood how to practice mindfulness and meditation to cultivate it, their entire lives, and the world, would be transformed. He wanted to create a program to bring his vision to life, called Tools for Peace, and he asked me to help him. I was in. We created Tools for Peace as a non profit in 2000, and I’ve been teaching mindfulness ever since. We saw great results with the people we were working and wanted to reach more people. Twhe idea of the Stop, Breathe & Think app was born, which we launched in January of 2014. Since then, the app has been downloaded on over 5 million devices.
My business partner Julie convinced me to send an audition video to appear on Apple’s very first reality show called “Planet of the Apps.” I was 7 months pregnant, so it was not something I was dying to do. There were thousands of applicants, and she was certain we would never make it, so why not? Three rounds of auditioning later, we were selected to be on the show. The first challenge was an “escalator pitch” where where we had about 60 seconds to pitch our app to Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gary Vaynerchuk and Will.i.am. They decided our app was interesting enough to demo further. As part of the demo, Will.i.am made us all do a guided meditation together. At this point, we had to be chosen by a mentor in order to remain on the show. It didn’t look like we were going to be chosen. It was down to the last second when Jessica Alba finally hit her green “yes” button. I can now officially cross being on a reality show off my bucket list.
I am currently partnering with experts to create in-app “journeys”, which are 30–60 day programs to address the issues our users are grappling with most, like anxiety, poor sleep, and ADHD.
There are all kinds of ways that too much screen time can affect your wellbeing:
A few things I’ve found helpful are to use robocall-blocking technology, either from the phone service provider, or third party apps that can be installed on your smartphone. Don’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers. Just let them go to voicemail and then see if it is a call you want to return. Whenever I’m doing something important, I set my phone to “Do Not Disturb.” I’ve added a handful of numbers from family, friends, and work that will always go through so I’m not completely off the grid in case of emergency, but it will not accept calls outside of that list. This allows me to focus on what’s right in front of me without being interrupted by spam calls.
I think the first thing is to limit the source of the distractions. That means editing your social media platforms. Unless you use social media for professional purposes, you may be able to get by with being on just one platform. Then limit the number of notifications you receive from the apps on your phone. I give myself a set period of time to check social media, messaging, and news apps during the day. It’s usually about 20 minutes around lunch time. If someone I follow makes a post, I know I’ll get to it then, and the time limit helps me to not get pulled down the rabbit hole for long periods of time.
I also think it is important to get in the habit of being away from your phone. Let family and friends know you plan to take a “no phone morning” or a “no phone day.” Plan a special activity, or just go about your daily business. If you feel a little separation anxiety, try taking the opportunity to notice how often you want to check your phone. It can help to understand how much we’ve become habituated to using technology. Its ok to be bored or just use your imagination once in a while!
It’s pretty normal to wake up and hop onto our devices, checking emails and social media and running through to-do lists. But jumping in like that carries the whirlwind of stress and worry from the previous day right into the present.
Rather than diving into the stream of stress, use this time of transition to intentionally set the tone for your entire day. Try the “Welcoming the Day” meditation in the Stop, Breathe & Think app before checking social media, texts, or news. Pause for a few moments to notice and feel a sense of warmth and peace in your body, and set the intention to carry that feeling with you throughout the day.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Dalai Lama
If everyone could take 5 minutes a day to stop, breathe & think the world would be a much better place. Here’s what that would look like:
STOP — Just pause for a moment — stop what you are doing, or just pause for a moment in your mind.
BREATHE — Take a few deep breaths, paying attention to your breath as it goes in and out.
THINK — As you continue to breathe deeply, call to mind a person or group of people. It can be people you know or complete strangers.
As you imagine them, think to yourself, “just like me, they want to be happy and have a positive experience.”
“They are a human being, with feelings just like me.”
“Just like me, they want to feel understood and respected.”
Now with a few breaths, send some kind wishes.
Make the wish for your own happiness. Something like, “May I be strong and healthy, and may I have positive experiences and happiness.” or you can use your own words.
Make the wish for the happiness of the other person or people. Something like “May they be peaceful, safe and content, and may they have positive experiences and happiness”
And finally, smile.
You can follow Stop, Breathe & Think on Instagram @SBTBreathe or Stop, Breathe & Think on Facebook.
Originally published at medium.com