ale-new-min.jpg

Hello and welcome

 

I’m Alejandro and I’m a freshman at Tulane University majoring in finance and psychology.
 
I started meditating regularly in March of 2020 when we went into lockdown due to COVID-19. At that time, a lot of feelings that I had pushed down started to come to the surface and I realized how out of sorts I had been for the previous few years. Because of this, I started to search for guidance on how to lead a happier life. My English teacher had introduced our class to meditation earlier that year, so I decided to do more research on it. I had previously been skeptical, thinking meditation was something weird that monks did. However, after reading some articles about the science behind meditation, I was intrigued and wanted to explore it more deeply. The first few weeks were hard – I wasn’t able to concentrate and I would easily become discouraged. But I stuck with it and eventually I was able to meditate for more than 20 minutes at a time. I had to learn to refocus on my breathing whenever my mind would wander. This took some patience and persistence, but it paid off. I gradually felt a shift in how I reacted to everyday experiences and I started to feel more at peace. Now when things don't go my way I am able to let it go rather than getting angry or frustrated. I continue to refine my practice and I feel more at ease every day.
 
I began this website as part of my project for the Jared's Fund Youth Fellowship. Jared's Fund started in 2016 in the wake of the death of Jared Zimmerman who tragically passed away at the age of 20 as a result of his mental illness. To honor Jared's life, his family started the Fund to "reduce stigma about mental illness, to create spaces where we can support our own, and to encourage research, conversation, advocacy, and art that creates space for silenced individuals – both those we know and those we don't." I am honored to have been chosen this year for the Jared’s Fund Youth Fellowship, which provides paid fellowships to current Montclair High School students or recent alumni to work with a mental health-related non-profit or undertake a project of their own choosing.
 
When I heard about the Jared’s Fund Youth Fellowship, it seemed that a project based on my interest in meditation would be a good fit. Kids my age are under a lot of pressure, and many of them don’t know how to deal with stress. From first-hand experience, I know that all that stress can build up and hinder you from living a happy and fulfilling life. Meditation is a gift that I intend to share with other students to improve their quality of life, and the fellowship has given me the opportunity to do so.
 
I was fortunate to partner with an organization called Mindful Awareness Academy for Children which strives to address the growing need to support children of color academically, emotionally, and socially. With help and guidance from my mentor Andrea Smith-Morgan, I organized mindfulness meetups in parks around my town over the summer of 2021. Below is a picture at one of our meetups, followed by one of the graphics we created to promote them. The experience strengthened my connection to my community and to others who are addressing issues related to mental health and well-being.

 
With my mentor, Andrea Smith-Morgan, at a mindfulness meetup
 

We promoted the meetups on social media

mindfulness-social-media_V2-min_edited.jpg