Change Maker Spotlight:  Jessica Morey, iBme

Change Maker Spotlight: Jessica Morey, iBme

Did you know that:

– 44% of American college students report having symptoms of depression
– According to a study surveying high school and college students from 1938 to 2007 – anxiety and  depression were six times more common in 2007 than during the Great Depression.
– Every 100 minutes, a teen takes their own life.
– Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. Suicide rate of 15-24  year  olds  has tripled since 1960.
– Teens spend an average of nine hours a day on online- up from just under 8 hours in 2010.

With statistics like this, we were relieved to hear about an organization that focuses on helping teens deal with stress, anxiety, depression, addiction, anger, bullying, and more.   Inward Bound Mindfulness Education ( iBme) is a non-profit that offers mindfulness programming for youth and the parents and professionals who support them.

iBme formed from the foundation of a 30-year lineage of teen mindfulness which began with retreats offered in Barre, Massachusetts in 1989. It is from this foundation that Jessica Morey, co-founder and current executive director of iBme who attended her first retreat at age 14, was inspired to launch a non-profit dedicated to teaching mindfulness to young people. Since its founding in 2010, iBme has grown from a nonprofit based in Washington, DC, to an organization that holds retreats across the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Jessica!


Yoga Digest:   How did you get into your business?
Jessica Morey:   I attended teen meditation retreats when I was a teenager- from 14-18 and fell in love with the practice. I  found so much benefit from compassion and mindfulness training as a type A teenager experiencing a lot  of anxiety and some bouts with depression.  I also found the practices helped with managing my emotions  to support academic focus and sports performance. I then got involved as a volunteer for teen retreats in  2007 and helped to found the organization in 2010 so that we could share these powerful practices with  more youth across the US and beyond.

YD:   How do you stay motivated and inspired to be the best you?
JM:   I make sure I keep my own personal meditation practice strong – in particular right now I try to spend as  much time practicing mindfulness outside in nature as I can. I’m also an avid yoga practitioner – movement  and exercise are vital to my wellbeing. I stay motivated by connecting with the power of these practices in  my own life and by teaching on retreats and seeing the transformation in the youth we serve – also hearing  about it from their parents!

YD: Why is it important to have a message, mission and intention?  
JM: Life is brief and there is so much suffering in the world – at personal, community and global levels. And I have  been blessed with many privileges- including learning these mindfulness skills at a young age. I want to  contribute to bringing more ease and wellbeing to the world. And if we can bring these skills to youth it can  impact the whole trajectory of their lives. Having a sense of meaningful work has been shown over and over  to be a key to life satisfaction and happiness.

YD: What do you like least about your industry?
JM: The biggest challenge for me is continuously fundraising to cover our scholarships for teens. We are  committed to making our programs, and these transformative and healing skills, available to any teen who  wants them, including low income youth. This means that we are not able to cover the costs of our  programs through fees- so the more we grow, the more youth we touch, the more money we commit to  fundraising. I would love to find a sustainable and abundant solution to this ongoing challenge.

YD: Where do you see yourself in the industry in 5 years?
JM: I would love to shift out of the administrative role I am currently in to be able to focus more fully on teaching  youth, parents and professionals and developing more targeted curricula for different populations that  incorporates mindfulness and compassion training – programs focused on social justice and environmental  protection for example. I’d also love to help create a contemplative high school semester program where  teenagers could come for 3 months and really dive into mindfulness training along with these other  important topics. I’ve seen the profound impact of our weeklong programs, I can only imagine the amount  of growth, healing and skill development that could happen for youth in a multi-month program. I would  love to see that become a reality!

YD: What is your life motto?
JM: May I be of service. May I be an instrument of peace.