About our Butterfly Project

Butterfly Effect ...

It sounds so simple: you take a deep breath when a butterfly opens its wings, and exhale again when the wings close. Yet the research is clear: stress is toxic, and a few deep breaths can really help.
The Elfenworks Foundation's Breathing Butterfly project uses a simple yet profound tool – a butterfly metaphor in an app with gentle activities – to help people stress-down as they move from a feeling of "fight or flight" to a healthier "relaxation response."  

De-stressing is crucial, perhaps now more than ever before. Our answer includes a key component known as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). MBSR has been shown to build resilience and improve outcomes. In this way we feel it may help innoculate against life's toxic stresses.

Project History

The Breathing Butterfly, one of The Elfenworks Foundation's key initiatives, took wing in 2009 as a response to studies in child stress. 

As with all our projects, we followed our Seven Pillar process. The vision was to help combat toxic stress. At the time, we felt this would be a non-duplicative effort.  The original Breathing Butterfly was written by our founder, Dr. Lauren Speeth, based on a lifetime of meditation practice combined with training as in ministry and experience as a hospital chaplain.  Before recording it, we checked it with both a child psychologist and a social worker. Then, after a member of our team tried the recording with one of his children, we shortened the count from seven to three. The initial "proof of concept" video has had over sixty thousand views and counting.

We began translating the project after the first English rollout, making use of language skills available in our team and our wide circle of multi-lingual friends. We made sure to include the top languages found in California homeless shelters with the first app rollout and added from there. The addition of Klingon was just a joy for the team.      
We've taught the Breathing Butterfly to teachers, to The Lasallian Volunteers, to ministry students in India, and to students in classroom settings. Teacher feedback resulted in the addition of a small "flower" introduction video (English only at present).  

We welcome partners in this effort, and just ask that you use our 'contact' page to reach us!  Researchers, take special note: our friends at The Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality have helped us craft a potential study that may interest you, and we have made a small stipend available to offset your costs.