Soryu Forall, Director of the Center for Mindful Learning, left his home state of Vermont in his late teens to study mindfulness abroad with some of the most qualified teachers in the world. After returning to the United States in 2008, he began teaching mindfulness to children through tennis lessons and music – the mindfulness of his upbringing. He was able to do this with deep trust and support of local supporters, who gave $22,000 of non-restricted funding over two years. They observed Soryu teaching locally and supported the expansion of the programming, which now reaches thousands of people each day.
With this initial funding, Soryu created the “Mind the Music” program – a curriculum in which young people practice mindfulness through listening to their favorite music. Kids involved with this program generally came from tough backgrounds, and it was tremendously helpful for them in both academic and behavioral challenges. As Soryu’s success in teaching mindfulness to local youth grew, he dreamt of making an even more profound impact on the lives of youth and pondered how to increase the number of people it was possible to teach.
With an initial grant offered by the 1440 Foundation, he created the non-profit Center for Mindful Learning and brought together a team to create Modern Mindfulness for Schools, an online program with two aspects: it teaches teachers how to be mindfulness instructors, and guides their classes in mindfulness exercises until they are ready to do it themselves. This allowed students to practice right away, and gave teachers the skill set necessary to support their class as mindfulness instructors over time. Thousands of children and teachers now use Modern Mindfulness on a daily basis.
CML is now a dynamic organization operating a number of projects and programs. CML’s staff is one of the many unique aspects of this organization. The entire organization, along with the Schools’ program, is completely staffed and run by resident volunteers involved in an onsite intensive mindfulness training program. As such, the organization and its programs have a support staff who speak from experience as both practitioners and teachers. They have committed their lives to mindfulness. Their integrity and expertise give peerless depth and effectiveness to CML’s programming.