Mindful Africa and Beyond

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Timeless practices such as yoga, meditation and cultivating gratitude help us develop skills like self-awareness, non-judgment and contentment. The specific term "Mindfulness" has been scientifically validated and popularized by researchers and practitioners in the United States. The founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Jon Kabat Zinn, is largely credited with making the practice more mainstream, as his clinical work to alleviate suffering for patients with chronic pain paved the way for secular, science-backed, attention-based practices to be adopted first by hospitals, and later by schools and companies. (Want to know more?  Check out research by Mindful Schools.Although the concept of Mindfulness is becoming widely known, it is difficult to find institutions who are interested in investing the time and money required to make long-term investments in rewiring the brain for less stress and more contentment. 

The Mind Body Project is proud of the opportunities we have received to teach in a variety of fields and incubate our programs at the University of Virginia. We facilitate workshops and retreats for expats and schools in Beijing, and bring science-backed breath and movement programs to companies and organizations in Virginia and Washington, DC.  We have prepared training curriculum to bring additional facilitators on board, but haven’t yet found enough business opportunities to expand our team.  One reason for our business development challenges is that you can't throw a sage stick without hitting a yoga teacher in Charlottesville. I kid, because this is a great problem to have.  The community where we are incubating our programs and business savvy is incredibly supportive when it comes to healing and thriving resources, and this pushes us to find more needy markets.

We have found much greater receptivity to our programs abroad, and are ready to meet the challenge.  BRICS countries are often hard pressed for access to teachers who understand stress relief from a psycho-somatic perspective, and how to integrate socio-emotional learning into the school and business environment. This summer, Erin has been invited to explore the health needs of various South African non-profits with VCU Professor of South African History, Dingani Mthethwa.  In addition to teaching history, Dingani has been an influential force in bringing mindfulness programs to the Albemarle County public schools in Charlottesville, VA.  Erin and Dingani have co-taught a few self-care programs for teachers, and have decided to team up to better understand the needs of various populations in Durban this July. 

Durban is an up and coming hub for entrepreneurship and innovation, and we hope to build off our previous Cape Town programs to enhance the reach of mindfulness and health education in South Africa. We will be liaising with organizations such as the Ghandi Museum, Sinomlando, the Albert Luthuli Museum and Plan A Women’s Incubator. In addition, Erin has been working to combine Professor Saras Sarasvathy’s research-backed entrepreneurial Effectuation framework with mind body practices, which she will be introducing to Beijing expat circles and experiential education programs this fall. (Linking back up with The Hutong, and more friends!) 

We continue to learn how the fundamentally basic tools of breath, movement and mindset can radically transform individuals and the institutions where we live and work.  This new adventure will certainly have us practicing humility, as we explore the nuances of culture as it applies to the field of mindfulness. If you have contacts, funding sources or ideas to share, please get in touch.  

Thank you for being part of the journey…