Mindfulness is helping these women cope with grief, challenges
How it can help you
Life can throw many challenges in a person’s direction. However, mindfulness practices, which include meditating, journalling, being present, breathing, and other techniques, enable the body and mind to let go of stress, harmful thought patterns, traumas, and other associated behaviours. When those outlines and disturbances no longer plague a person, they are purportedly set free by the shackles of the mind and likely to find more positivity, creativity, productivity, and energy. The Oxford Dictionary defines mindfulness as “a mental state achieved by concentrating on the present moment, while calmly accepting the feelings and thoughts that come to you. [It is] used as a technique to help you relax”.
Rain and Sky Jarrett of Transcend LLC, a company that helps leaders stress less and live more, like to call mindfulness their “surfboard”. Navigating the waves of life to the best of their ability, the daughters of former Third World and Wailer band member Irving ‘Carrot’ and Gina Jarrett combined their expertise in brain science, mindfulness, social development, emotional improvement, and leadership maturity to create their company, which provides the skills that unlock deep, life-changing personal transformations.
“Tuning into the experience of life with a certain quality of presence and attitude of not judging what is happening, but instead observing what is happening” is how Sky explains mindfulness. “It’s a way of building personal mastery of your emotions, thoughts, and experiences, then choosing how to respond to the realities that life is presenting.”
Rain vulnerably recalls a time when she was having a difficult spell with life. “There was a lot happening, and I was really struggling with how to manoeuvre through, and I found myself in a constant state of emotional reactivity, where I was in a chronic stress state.” She pauses to expound, “What happens from a neuroscience perspective is that when you are living in this state, you lack the capacity to respond to triggers with a sense of quality, kindness, and compassion. Always on the edge and frazzled.” She knew something had to change. “it was exhausting and unnerving, and I still had to live and be productive.”
Rain noted that while Sky was going through her own struggles, it seemed that she was able to exude a level of grace through the tribulations, so the elder sister wondered to herself, “Did I miss the memo?”
Discussing how she was feeling with her sister Sky, who, at the time, was working on her mindfulness coaching certification, Rain noticed a difference and started to feel better with the help of her sister’s coaching and techniques. “I started to see ripple-effect changes, where I felt more resilient and prepared to tackle challenges. I felt more grounded, and I was more settled and at peace with the chaos even though the chaos was still swirling.” Continuing, she adds, “It started to flourish like a blossoming rose into, how can I utilise what I am learning through my mindfulness practices to help others with the challenges?”
LEARNING TO COPE
The tight circle around them started to notice a change in both sisters. As the twosome lost their father and their mother was diagnosed with cancer for a second time, they simultaneously built their business to help others. How were they able to cope? It was simple: mindfulness.
Dr Margaret Chin, assistant secretary-general of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), credits Rain for introducing her to the mindfulness concept in 2019 and says she used it more than ever after experiencing her brother’s death from COVID-19 in 2020. The tool helped her cope with the grief.
“I am a firm believer that life is purposeful and that people come into your life for a reason. Meeting her (Rain) was ordained and purposeful. I had to draw on mindfulness not only to contextualise death, but also to help me understand who I am and my own vulnerabilities and insecurities,because every day now with COVID, you open yourself up to death.”
With hopes of introducing the mindfulness concept to the local school curriculum in the future, Dr Chin is of the opinion that “when we get our head in that space of equilibrium, then we are fine. It helps our bodies to recognise our feelings and emotions and know how to deal with them”. With the help of teachers such as guidance counsellors, she believes that children can be trained to pause and listen to their breathing and help their bodies recalibrate, which can only have positive effects for our nation.
When asked the difference between mindfulness and therapy, Counselling Psychologist Dr Janelle Reid of Stay Balanced said, “Mindfulness is an approach that is used in therapy, but therapy involves psychoeducation, learning about it, how to manage it, learning strategies, being in a safe space to share what is going on in the head and being supported by a professional.”
Dr Reid is intentional about normalising mental health and believes that mindfulness is a powerful tool. She encourages journalling, meditation, and breathing as helpful techniques but adds, “prayer is also a form of meditation.”
With a worldwide pandemic still upon us, Dr Reid knows that mindfulness is useful. “In the times we are living in, it can help to normalise a feeling or a thought. To help to create space in what seems to be a stressful time in addition to any other stress you had before COVID.”
A way to think about mindfulness is “not waiting for the storm to be over, but learning to dance in the rain. Mindfulness helps us to feel the rain, dance in it and be okay,” she said.
Oprah, Katy Perry, Paul McCartney, and many others swear by mindfulness - that it is helping to improve their mental health.
TK Dawkins decided to give mindfulness a try after being led to start looking into the habits of successful people and noted that all of the people she researched were adamant that mindfulness and the habit of being mindful are what changed the game for them.
“I was not the meditation girl before this and thought it was kind of weird, but I thought ‘So many people can’t be wrong!’,” she says with a laugh.
She tried it, and it had a very significant impact on her life. “I’ve realised a naturally, more positive attitude,” she said. Her transformation led her to share the experience with others and start her own mindfulness practice dubbed The Morning Routine, which includes meditation, prayer, a mind movie, and positive affirmations to start the day, every Monday to Friday from 7 - 7:30 a.m.
For the mindfulness naysayers, Dawkins concludes, “Even if you don’t believe, try it. Give it 15 minutes and see. What do you have to lose?”