~Being present makes a difference and sparks connection~


Let’s face it, whether you are 40 or 14 being present is something that we
seem to be moving further and further away from at this time on the planet.  All
the new technology; texting, twitter, facebook, instagram, video games and so on, is a distraction from being in the present moment and connecting human to human and heart to heart.
The more I look around these days at teens, it seems that one of the most valuable connections they have is with their smart phones.  I had an experience in the not so distant past with a family member and his friend, both in high school.  We went out to Sylvan Lake for a night to stay in the cabins enjoying nature and connecting with one another, at least that was my intention.  As soon as we arrived the boys immediately discovered the weren’t able to get cell service and the were not happy about it.  I hoped they’d move past it and we spend some much needed quality time together.  After weather moved in and we were forced inside the boys started getting ancy and bored because they couldn’t use their phones.  Let me just say it was a BIG deal for them.   So, we spent the next couple of hours attempting to reel the boys in by playing games and talking, however what keep showing up was their boredom due not being able to get on their phones and see what was going on.  There seemed to be an awkwardness in the boys attempts to spend time with one another.  Finally my brother couldn’t take it anymore and he let them drive down into Eagle, so they could check their phones for texts, calls and emails. When they arrived back they were pleased for a bit and then the cycle began again.  Needless to say, the boys didn’t have a good time and in the morning were ready to get back into cell service.
This wasn’t my first experience of what a hold technology has on teens, but I felt the impact more because it was family and it meant alot to me to be able to connect with him.  I saw how it kept my nephew distant from us and all the possibilities at Sylvan Lake.


This experience was one of the many reasons that UB.U came into existence.   The way I see it is  there seems to be an epidemic of disconnect which may explain why mental health, suicide and bullying are on the rise in our youth today.  As human-beings we are hard-wired for connection to other human-beings and true connection happens in the moment.  It’s challenging, teen or adult, to stay present with others when your phone is dinging or vibrating, however it’s “the norm “with youth that even when with friends it’s “okay” to check texts and respond to them.  I wonder what that says on a deeper level to the person who is potentially having a moment of speaking from the heart and it gets put on hold due to a friend texting in?  To me it teaches the one on the other side that what they have to say isn’t important or on an even deeper level that they are less important than whoever is texting in.  What is even more concerning is that teens today just resign to that’s just the way it is.  In the past year  I’ve had numerous conversations with girls that say it doesn’t feel good and they wish it was different, but they don’t feel comfortable saying anything to the person who is texting when they are talking to them.  It’s also interesting to ponder if youth are unlearning how to be with one another or just themselves due to the disassociation and distraction that is happening with the enormous use of technology.


UB.U is a program that brings mindfulness, yoga-based movement and relaxation into the school day.  The . in our name is that moment of pause where you get to choose to be your most authentic self in response, self-expression and truth.


The mindfulness portion of our program gives youth the opportunity to bring their attention to what is happening in themselves and the world around them right in the very moment.  It gives them tools for pressing pause and making a RESPONSible choice.  It encourages regulating and understanding all of their emotions.   The yoga-based movement is for the well-being of their health and gives them the opportunity to practice mindfulness in movement.  And finally the relaxation portion of class, which is what kids seem to love the most, gives techniques to learn to relax and get away from all the pressures that come with being a youth today.


I’m not saying that our program is going to keep kids from texting and from the allure of technology, our hope is that it will teach youth what it means to be connected to themselves, to others and their lives in each moment.
-Rachel DeLong