For Smiling Mind co-founder Jane Martino, the incredible impact her online mindfulness program has had on young people is the most joyful thing she has done in her career to date.
“The intent was always to give the gift of meditation to others as (co-founder) James Tutton and I have found it so personally beneficial,” Jane says.
“It has grown and had greater impact than we probably initially imagined, with over one million downloads. We are certainly so pleased that we have introduced such a large percentage of the population to the benefits of mindfulness and (hopefully) helped support their regular practice and general wellbeing.”
Smiling Mind was officially launched in October 2012, with a vision of introducing as many young Australians as possible to the benefits of mindfulness meditation. From the outset, Jane and James realised the role the app could play in education settings, and have been focused on having the program integrated into the Australian curriculum by 2020.
“We believe the success of the program is mainly due to the method of delivery being via technology where people, especially youth, are already engaged, and the fact the program is supplied free."
It’s a combination of meeting a clear need for preventative mental health and wellbeing programs and its delivery through an accessible and engaging digital platform that has made Smiling Mind such a powerful tool.
“The mental health statistics speak to this – we need it!” Jane says. “We believe the success of the program is mainly due to the method of delivery being via technology where people, especially youth, are already engaged, and the fact the program is supplied free.
“This has always been a huge part of our strategy as it means that all people and all schools, no matter their location or financial circumstance, can undertake the program. Accessibility has always been at the heart of our concept and vision and this has certainly helped it spread and grow.”
Smiling Mind: Mindfulness Made Easy is the latest resource in the suite of tools created by Jane and James, offering readers a personal insight into the practice of mindfulness meditation. It’s full of ideas, tools and advice to integrate mindfulness into your life, based on the authors’ own experience.
"Parents who are interested in helping their kids become more mindful can start by becoming more mindful themselves."
Q&A with psychologist and Smiling Mind Board member, Dr Michael Carr Gregg
What changes have you seen in the perception of mindfulness during your time with Smiling Mind?
Smiling Mind has been instrumental in increasing the popularity of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR). It is now more mainstream, especially in schools, and my psychological colleagues have embraced this big time. I think it is true to say that Smiling Mind has done for MBSR what Paul Hogan did for the Australian tourism industry in 1984. The fact that we have over 5,000 schools now using it is inspirational. When the history of public mental health is written in Australia there will be a large chapter devoted to Jane and James!
What are the key requirements for practising mindfulness?
If you are using Smiling Mind, all you need is a phone and a pair of earphones and the desire to change your life.
How can families use Smiling Mind to improve their mental health and wellbeing?
Those parents who are interested in helping their kids become more mindful can start by becoming more mindful themselves. When parents start to meditate, or even just make more of an effort to be present with their kids (that is, really listening to them when they talk rather than half-listening and planning the shopping at the same time) kids naturally start becoming more mindful.
Children are like sponges and learn mostly by observing the people around them. They will naturally follow adult behaviour, by watching parents who become distracted and overwhelmed by stress or who practise presence of mind and kindness to themselves and others.
The whole family gains when parents start meditating with their children. Each member becomes less reactive, more present and more compassionate and empathetic. Families are a system, and when one person becomes more mindful, this has an effect on everyone.