Being a young woman can be challenging. It’s a time of rapid change, emerging sexuality, and new responsibilities. Like many teenaged girls, I looked to my friends and media for guidance when I was young. And I was -unsurprisingly- misguided.
Kate Stone, who has worked coaching teenagers for over a decade, recognized the need for spiritual guidance and support during that messy transition into young adulthood.
“We teach kids to follow directions and tick all the boxes, but we don’t teach them to be resilient, tune into themselves, and make choices based on their authentic values, or even know what those are,” Kate says. “Our education system has massive gaps — emotional agility, mental health modalities, sexuality, and financial literacy, to name a few. This lack of support leads to a lot of confusion. We’ve all been there.”
She created HeartSpeak, a harmonic convergence of her spiritual and teaching journeys. She offers practical help, mental health education, and spiritual wisdom to plant new ideas and information that teenagers aren’t getting anywhere else.
What have you learned since launching an inner education program from young women?
I’ve learned that listening is everything, and the essential thing we need when we’re young, scared, and confused is someone strong enough, sure enough, and wise enough to love us unconditionally, not rush to save us, but guide us towards thoughtful and useful questions that ultimately lead us to our own answers. We’re developing a robust and secure sense of self to go into the world ready to tackle our fears and overcome them. Our minds, especially when we’re young, have been filled with many unloving and untrue ideas (look at our society and our culture). So, we need to replace those ideas with new ones, more functional ones, and more empowering ones.
What are some concerns that young women bring to you?
Every concern is rooted in the same idea: Doubt, self-doubt. Doubt arises in negative body image, sexual shame and guilt, ostracization from girls at school, free-floating anxiety, go ahead, pick your poison. But, it all comes down to the negative, fearful ideas we indulge in without being conscious of them and the negative stories we’re telling ourselves on repeat — the inner critic we can recognize, befriend and begin dialoguing with. The power is ours — but we have to learn that; we can be taught to realize that. Also, anxiety is a big one. I teach the girls how to manage their nervous systems and self-regulate using breathwork, meditation, nutrition, and biohacking. It’s so important and an easy fix for so many issues — it’s the low-hanging fruit of the current mental health epidemic.
You call HeartSpeak inner education. What is “inner education”?
Inner education gives you the resources to look within and understand the root causes of why you feel what you feel, how you see the world and the impact of your perspectives. Inner education is the knowledge and the skills that grant you access to your inner world, self-knowledge, and a secure sense of self even amid pain, difficulty, or loneliness. My inner education curriculum doesn’t make pain or challenges magically disappear. But, through self-inquiry and shaping perspectives that empower us, my program helps young people, specifically young women, understand how to interpret what happens to us in life and navigate those challenges with greater insight and self-awareness.
What were some misconceptions you had about young women before creating your program?
Interesting question! I wouldn’t say I had many misconceptions because I’ve been counseling young people for a decade now. However, I didn’t realize how big a craving there was for this kind of educational content. The girls absorb it like a sponge. If my classes were 4 hours long, they’d dig it. At times, I struggle to keep on class schedule because they’re so engaged, curious, and questioning. It’s a breath of fresh air for them. I like to say Truth is always true. You know Truth when you hear it; you feel it in your belly. My students want adults to be honest with them and talk straight with them. They’re sick of being talked down to, treated like kids, and adults herding them into prescribed boxes and paths. They see how complicated the world is, and they just want someone to acknowledge how messed up things are right now and that there is a way through. It might not be easy, but there is a path forward.