We’re thrilled to announce that Kristen Race, mindfulness educator and founder of Mindful Life, is the first to join our speaker line-up for “Ideas at Play,” coming up on September 19. At TEDxMileHighWomen in 2013, Kristen inspired us to “settle down, pay attention and say thank you,” by learning to practice mindfulness in our lives to cope with stressful situations. We caught up with Kristen recently to learn more about the connection between mindfulness and play: You’re back for a second TEDxMileHigh talk! In your first talk, you jokingly compared the stress of speaking with the stress of seeing a bear while you were out on a bike ride. In retrospect, what was the experience like for you, and what will be different for you this time? Speaking at TEDx the first time was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life! I speak in front of thousands of people over the course of the year but there is something about the TEDx stage that is different. My last experience put my own stress management skills to the test. My hope this time around is to be a bit more relaxed and enjoy the experience from beginning to end. I think last time I was a bit too overwhelmed to take it all in. 🙂 When you last spoke to TEDxMileHigh, you talked about a turning point in your life, when stress led to a full-body breakdown. From that, you learned how mindfulness can help us all calm down, pay attention and be thankful. Can you talk about a recent example in which mindfulness helped you through a stressful situation? We recently had to put our dog down. It was an incredibly challenging time from the moment we received her sudden terminal diagnosis to the day of the procedure. Mindfulness helped me to enjoy every day I had with her, to be grateful for my time with her, and to help process her loss with my children. My son is a typical 9-year-old boy, he is obsessed with soccer, skiing, golf and the sport of the month. He is not particularly emotional or the type of kid that would want to sit and meditate with me. On the morning of our dog’s procedure he did not want to be there, but the last thing he told my husband and me was to be sure to take 10 mindful breaths with her before the injections. I am incredibly thankful for my mindfulness practice and for how this practice impacts my family. The theme for this TEDxMileHigh event is “Ideas at Play.” What does that concept mean to you? I’d like to explore how we can “play” with mindfulness in our day to day lives. Mindfulness is not simply about sitting on a cushion and stillness, but it can be integrated into our daily lives in fun and playful ways. Ways that can profoundly benefit us! How can mindfulness help us be more playful and creative? When you practice mindfulness as a family, it has to be playful and creative! I think one of the unique aspects of all of my work with Mindful Life is the way in which we make mindfulness fun. I see this most profoundly in my work with schools. The methods we use are creative, play-based and fun. We play mindful movement games, go on mindful hikes (from PE to the lunch room) and take turns leading mindful breathing using our favorite animal breath (elephant breath being one of the most popular). When the activities are playful and fun, kids AND adults create a positive associations with the practice and are much more likely to use mindfulness tools during times of stress. This playful nature has been the key to our success in our work with schools, families and even in the workplace. What’s a “playful” thing about you that most people wouldn’t know? Hmmm. I am a bit of a thrill seeker. While I talk a lot about the damage of our continued triggering of the stress response in our brains I am a big fan of healthy stress, or the kind of stress that makes us more resilient when we manage it effectively. I love to mountain bike, ski the steeps, and in college I worked for a bungee jumping company, each morning I would jump first to “test the ropes!” Want to hear more from Kristen? Check out her 2013 talk here, and get inspired for a great event on September 19. (Oh, and as long as we’re being mindful, don’t forget that tickets are selling fast, so get yours today!) What are the “Ideas at Play” in your life right now?