I am John Allcock, Co-Founder and Director of Mindfulness at Sea Change Preparatory, a trailblazing academy that regularly incorporates the practice of mindfulness into its curriculum. I am also a Harvard-educated trial lawyer and the author of FORTY THINGS I WISH I’D TOLD MY KIDS, a title that explains the tenets of mindfulness in a way that is accessible to people of all ages. I studied and practiced mindfulness for over fifteen years prior to teaching these concepts to children with a wide range of abilities. I am continually in awe of how regular mindfulness practices have enabled and emboldened our kids to break world records, excel in academics, and achieve goals that were previously thought to be impossible. Ask me anything.

Proof: https://i.redd.it/8fm9w6vlpdl01.jpg

Comments: 34 • Responses: 13  • Date: 

Inspectah_Eck4 karma

Hi John,

As a swim instructor, I’m interested in knowing what sort of mindfulness techniques you’re using, and how you incorporate them. Are these guided meditations on land that lead to better performance in the water? Or are your swimmers actively visualizing and focusing on the body/breathing technique while they’re in the water? It’s a very cool idea, and I appreciate the work you’re doing! Thank you!

Jallcock10 karma

Its a combination of the two. We actually do mindful meditation for 30-40 minutes before entering the water. There is a program which starts with concentration techniques, mindfulness breathing, and also visualization. We teach students to recognize and let go of fear, self-doubt and other thought patterns which are not helpful. We then use the breath in the same way in the water--so for example when starting a swim at night, you release the inevitable feelings of fear by focusing on the breath. We believe the combination of mindfulness meditation on land, and then using mindfulness practices in the water is synergistic.

murderhalfchub1 karma

Hi John,

I was a swimmer from 6 years old until I graduated college. One of my coaches over the years was a gentleman named Charlie Dragon, on a small team called Fanwood Scotch-Plains YMCA.

Have you by any chance met him? He regularly encouraged us to meditate and focus on why we were training in the way we were. He wanted us to understand why the sets he wrote would benefit us before we even got in the water.

This sounds a lot like what you're doing. I just wanted to know if you ever met Charlie Dragon.

Thanks for doing this AMA and have a great day.

Jallcock2 karma

Sorry I have never met him. Sounds like a great guy.

Groovyaardvark4 karma

Why are you doing this AMA? Is there a message you would like to share?

Jallcock1 karma

Mindfulness for kids can be taught, and it is extremely beneficial in all areas of their lives.

jdcielo8234 karma

Hi John- How can teachers or coaches apply mindfulness to their classrooms or practices? What are some good beginner tips/techniques?

Jallcock6 karma

Here are some thoughts. At Sea Change we start with the basics--getting students to get into a comfortable posture, and then guided meditation paying attention to the breath. We start with a very short session--10 minutes of instruction as to why it is worthwhile, and then 5-10 minutes of guided meditation (instructing students to notice various distractions but to return their attention to the breath). Then we discuss very briefly what happened to the students' attention during the session, emphasizing that there is no failure, and that every time you notice your attention has wandered and you bring it back it is a success (no matter how often it wanders). We have a program that is progressive and varies but this is where we start.

Chtorrr3 karma

How did you get into this line of work?

Jallcock4 karma

My wife swam at Ohio State, and has for years (before I met her) run a school which focused on high quality academics and open ocean swimming. I introduced her to mindfulness and things progressed from there.

johhnytexas3 karma

So you work at a private school that revolves around team based swimming the ocean? Is the ocean a metaphor of something? And is ocean swimming the only sport you have?

Jallcock5 karma

Thanks for the note. Sea Change is a small "microschool"--on the order of 25 students with a 4 or 5 to one student teacher ratio. Its three pillars are a top quality, individualized academic program delivered by high quality instructors in a collaborative environment, ocean swimming for all the students, and a mindfulness program for social and emotional learning. So the school does not revolve around swimming, but swimming is one component of it, which is synergistic with the other two components. The ocean is not a metaphor, but the challenge of open ocean swimming allows students to succeed in ways which some could not in more traditional schools. For example, our students have been recognized by President Obama for swimming the English channel. Swimming is the only sport at the school, but there are other physical fitness activities offered around the sport.

soap868822 karma

Do you think that this could be used in a larger variety of tasks such as other sports or helping ADHD?

Jallcock3 karma

Yes. Mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in many tasks--the book's website links to many resources describing some of them, particularly on the mindfulness in education page. At Sea Change we have used the practices to increase focus and attention, particularly with students with ADHD, which has resulted in some incredible outcomes (which you can see on the Sea Change website).

turricalyapness2 karma

What are your thoughts on outdoor education such as NOLS or Outward Bound?

Jallcock1 karma

I do not have experience in those--sorry.

KamehameBoom2 karma

What is your favorite kind of Gatorade?

Jallcock3 karma

Not a big fan--but you do have to keep hydrated even in the water!

bghoneybadger1 karma

How do you define "mindfulness"?

Jallcock2 karma

I typically use the following definition: Mindfulness is paying attention to your present moment experience--both internal and external--without judgment, and in a way that you are not captured by that experience. It is a slightly more explicit definition that the one commonly used by Jon Kabat Zinn

iphonealot1 karma

How do I get started practicing mindfulness?

Jallcock2 karma

The way I started was reading (my book was written just as a starting read for someone) and then practicing by way of guided meditations. There are many good ones on-line now, by Jon Kabat Zinn and also by Jack Kornfield or Gil Fronsdal in particular.

Chtorrr0 karma

What is the very best dessert?

Jallcock3 karma

Not sure of the answer to this one!

DameoftheDen-1 karma

Hi. I homeschool my two children. What are some good resources in addition to your own book for bringing this into practice with children? Also, any ideas on group practice as so many Buddhist communities are not child inclusive?

Jallcock3 karma

Good questions. On the resources, Mindful Schools has a course and a curriculum designed to teach teachers how to teach young people. Most of the teachers and staff at Sea Change have taken the course, and the curriculum is pretty good. I am in the middle of writing guided meditations for kids based on what we are doing at Sea Change that are a bit more instructive than the Mindful Schools curriculum, but that is a good place to start. Not sure what area you are in, but Spirit Rock has excellent family day retreats to get it going with a family.