I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed and ready to smack the next person who tells me to "calm down" or "take a deep breath".
Hi, I'm Jenny Johannsen.
Former school psychologist and meditation skeptic turned meditation advocate.
My story does not involve a big breakdown or some embarrassing event that caused me to start meditating.
It was much less dramatic.
Stress and its negative impact slowly and steadily crept into my life.
I had "but after this week, things will slow down a bit" on repeat. I told myself things would be easier when my boys were older and more independent. I thought I was just one perfect organization system away from getting things together.
There were signs of stress, of course. Signs I ignored.
Big signs: like getting so sick with pneumonia at the ripe old age of 29 that I landed on the cardiac floor of the hospital for a week and had medical professionals puzzled about why I got so sick - which led to them asking many questions about my stress.
Little signs: like snappy remarks back at my husband; like needing way too many cups of coffee to get through a day; like not being able to remember the last time I actually laughed.
I brushed the signs off as unrelated to my mental health and kept trudging forward. I had too much to get done to worry about that stuff.
I was "fine".
I was a School Psychologist for 12 years and was much more focused on helping students and families with their mental health, stress and learning.
My caseloads kept growing, student needs kept increasing, and although my boys were becoming more independent, parenting was not becoming any less intense.
As a school psychologist, data was my training and my love language. But, when I first saw the data about the benefits of meditation in scientific journal articles on my overflowing desk, I brushed it off.
I had the preconceived notion that meditation meant chanting, gongs, incense and mountain retreats.
That was not me. Although a mountain retreat sounded lovely, I had no time for chanting. Also, if I was going to get a vacation, I wanted one where I could talk.
Then the research about the benefits of meditation kept finding its way to my desk. My skeptical, but data-loving brain, could no longer ignore it.
I decided to give
meditation a try.
I didn’t think it would work.
My skeptical brain wanted it not to work.
It actually worked.
Now, my life wasn’t magically all unicorns and rainbows. All those things that stressed me out were still happening.
My kids whined and refused to put on their socks. The dog threw up in the middle of my navy living room rug as I ran across the room yelling “No!!!” My inbox kept refilling faster than I could empty it. My free afternoon to “get work done” was always filled with a ringing phone, an emergency meeting and a rush to get out of the parking lot in time to pick up my kids before their school called their emergency contacts.
However, I was responding differently. I felt better. I felt like I could deal with it all instead of curling up in one giant ball of overwhelmed tears.
I had found a simple and research-backed tool that worked.
I assumed the next part would be easy.
I was wrong.
I started sharing meditation apps with students, parents, colleagues and teachers to help them get started. I thought my work was done.
However, I quickly learned that for most people, even the best app isn't enough to get them started and to actually stick with meditation.
It wasn't because they were too busy, or weren't motivated, or thought too much. The foundational system was missing. It was too overwhelming.
I needed to figure out how to teach a system so that I could help others have meditation in their stress toolbox too.
I knew all about learning theories, the brain, stress, mental health and habits, but I needed to learn more about meditation.
I completed a certified meditation teacher program at the world's first secular drop-in meditation studio that specializes in making mediation easy and interesting - for everyone.
Now, I was ready.
I put those pieces together to design a step-by-step framework in the School of Calm, to help people overcome the overwhelm of getting started and sticking with meditation.
Because meditation that you actually do (and want to do!) - that is where the stress-busting magic happens.
While I am no longer working as a school psychologist, I now help other stressed-out and way-too-busy people learn how to meditate and how to keep doing it so that they can add more calm and happy to their days.
My life is still not unicorns and rainbows.
Stress still happens on on daily basis. I am still busy.
But now I have the tools and science to respond instead of react.
Those tools make all the difference.
Are you ready to feel less stressed and more happy? Here's how to get started.
Join the Course
The School of Calm is a complete step-by-step system for learning how to meditate and how to stick with it.