A new Star Wars series is coming your way from Ashley Eckstein — and it’s unlike anything the Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels actor has created yet. But it may be the most important project you’ll hear about this May the Fourth.
The series, called “Star Wars Mindful Matters,” is a collaboration between Eckstein, Lucasfilm, and Citrone 33 that aims to teach viewers the art of mindfulness through their favorite Star Wars characters and moments.
Speaking to Dork Side of the Force about her new video series, Eckstein discussed the fans that inspired the project, the impact she hopes it has on viewers — and how creating the series has encouraged her to continue practicing mindfulness personally.
Dork Side of the Force: What inspired you to create this project?
Ashley Eckstein: Creating “Star Wars Mindful Matters” has been a passion project for me for the past five years. It started as an idea that was inspired by the fans. Especially the young fans, the kids. One of the number-one questions they would ask me over really the past fourteen years of being the voice of Ahsoka is how they can be a Jedi just like Ahsoka. And I would always try to relate the lessons from Star Wars to their everyday lives.
So using examples like, I always ask kids how school is going, and I would tell them: “Well, you know what? Ahsoka had to go to school as well. Next time you’re in school, think of Ahsoka because she went to school at the Jedi Temple. And she had to learn lessons and she had to go to class just like you did. So before she could go fight in the Clone Wars, she had to practice her studies at the Jedi Temple.”
So whenever I would relate it to their everyday life, their eyes would get so big and they would get so excited that they were just like a Jedi. And so I got this idea because of these very important mindful exercises of learning to connect with your breath, learning to ground yourself in the present moment, learning to confront your fear, learning to express your emotions. These are all lessons we learn in Star Wars. These are lessons that – we don’t even have to make it up! Our favorite characters in Star Wars, we watch them. They’re already learning these lessons.
And so I was thrilled to be able to be able to combine these very important lessons that we learn in Star Wars with clinically-based mindfulness exercises. And I worked with Matt Martin from Lucasfilm Story Group, as well as Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the On Our Sleeves movement for children’s mental health. And I collaborated with Lucasfilm and Citrone 33 to bring these videos to life.
They’re just short, as I like to call them ‘bite-size’ videos, they’re about three minutes or less, and they’re really just like one-minute exercises where, when you do these, they will make a powerful difference in your day. Because being mindful matters!
When someone sits down to watch one of these videos, what do you hope they take away from the experience?
I hope that fans will walk away with a very short but powerful exercise they can do in their everyday life that will help them during times when they’re anxious, worried, or scared, or if they’re overly excited and they need to just calm down and quiet their mind, or if they need to reach out for help. But they will connect them with their favorite characters or their favorite moments in Star Wars or they feel like, “OK, Ahsoka Tano did this … and it really helped her. So next time when I’m facing something in my life, I’m going to remember what Ahsoka did, and I’m going to do that too.”
Jedi Master Yoda says, “A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind.” And he teaches Luke Skywalker, and Luke Skywalker teaches Rey, and Anakin teaches Ahsoka … the lessons that training our mind is just as important as physically training our body. And in the past, Jedi training has always been about fighting with your lightsaber. But we hear Luke Skywalker tell Rey: “Confronting fear is the destiny of the Jedi.”
These lessons are so important to our favorite Characters in Star Wars and to their training and to their journey, and so it’s my hope that in our everyday lives – we always hear, “OK, take in a deep breath, inhale, exhale.” Or “ground yourself in your current situation.” It’s just taking these clinically-based exercises but actually relating them to the stories and the characters that we know and that we love so much.
It’s also a personal journey of mine because that’s how I learn best. I learn by relating these lessons and exercises to my favorite characters and stories. It makes it more exciting. It makes it easier to understand for me. I’m excited to share how I learn best with the fans.
Has working on “Mindful Matters” encouraged you to be more mindful in your own life, too?
Oh absolutely. I cannot tell you how many times I take moments throughout my day where I just need to slow the moment down, and I need to calm my mind, and I do my breathing exercise. It’s inhaling for four seconds, exhaling for four seconds, and saying “I am one with the Force and the Force is with me.” And it’s just connecting with the Force. Connecting with the energy and the environment around you to slow down the moment. And I do that exercise pretty much at least once a day, sometimes multiple times throughout the day. I use these exercises.
These exercises are not just for kids, they are on the Star Wars Kids’ page but that’s because we made them relatable and understandable for kids. But as we know, Star Wars is for everyone. Star Wars is ageless and timeless, and it’s for fans of all ages. I’m really hoping that these make a powerful difference in all fans. And I’m excited to share them.
In each episode of “Mindful Matters,” Eckstein will lead a Star Wars-inspired mindful exercise designed to teach viewers the power of mindfulness in their everyday lives.
These video shorts are clinically- and evidence-based with educational resources by On Our Sleeves, the children’s mental health movement led by experts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “Mindful Moments” is a free resource that will be available to anyone seeking to make a positive difference in their lives with the help of a galaxy far, far away.
“Mindful Matters” will be available on the Star Wars Kids YouTube channel and StarWarsKids.com.
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