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“Rumpelstiltskin Learns To Meditate” … and other “Fairy Tales De-Stressed”

“Rumpelstiltskin Learns To Meditate” … and other “Fairy Tales De-Stressed”

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“Rumpelstiltskin Learns To Meditate” is Calm’s latest new “Sleep Story” – and the first in a series of “Fairy Tales De-Stressed”, offering soothing new takes on scary old tales.

The new series launches today with our reimagining of Rumpelstiltskin, the classic tale about a wretched imp, renowned for stamping his feet and venting his rage. 

It continues in coming weeks with such further tales as “The Wicked Witch of the West Discovers Mindfulness", and "The Big Bad Wolf Learns Anger Management" (... and controlled breathing). 

Stars Jerome Flynn, Keegan Connor Tracy and a mystery celebrity (to be announced) narrate the three new adult bedtime stories for our times.  

The shared theme of the new tales is the power of meditation, mindfulness and other mind tools to transform our lives. 


Jerome Flynn, the actor known best these days for co-starring in Game of Thrones, narrates the first of the three tales, "Rumpelstiltskin Learns to Meditate".   

“If only Rumpelstiltskin had learnt to meditate as a much younger imp, how differently his story might have turned out,” says Flynn. 

Keegan Connor Tracy, the Canadian actor, author and co-star of "Once Upon a Time", among other hit shows, narrates the second story – "The Wicked Witch of the West Discovers Mindfulness."  

"It's a new telling of the Wicked Witch's tale – or maybe a new chapter in her story", says Tracy. "It tells how she learns to practise mindfulness and so becomes a calmer, kinder and altogether more contented witch." 

Michael Acton Smith, co-founder of Calm, explains the thinking behind the idea of a series called "Fairy Tales De-Stressed":

“Many characters in fairy tales are under clear stress – or else causing it to others. They badly need to meditate. And so we wondered what would happen if they did.” 

The new tales are also loosely inspired by the Dalai Lama’s assertion that, “If every eight year-old is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” 

“Rumpelstiltskin, of course, is not an eight-year old”, says Alex Tew, co-founder of Calm. Indeed, he’s not even a person but an imp. “But he is a famously angry creature – and if anyone needs to meditate, it’s him.”  

And so, it turns out in Calm’s new tale, he does – with the help of some kindly gnomes. By doing so, he becomes – if you haven’t guessed – a calmer, gentler, mellower, more compassionate and benevolent soul. 


The three new tales are written by Christina Yang, an American writer of Sleep Stories for Calm. 

Jerome Flynn is himself a big advocate of meditation, which he's been practising for over a quarter of a century – since first discovering it in his twenties, when it helped him cope with the pressures of pop stardom as part of the hit British duo Robson and Jerome. 

Rumpelstiltskin was originally a German folk tale, which spread to the wider world thanks to the Brothers Grimm, who collected it in the 1812 edition of their influential book, "Children’s And Household Tales". 

Scholars believe that the story dates back up to 4,000 years. 

Calm’s new version is not a mere retelling of an ancient tale. It is more like a further chapter or instalment of Rumpelstiltskin’s story.  

It tells what happens – and what a different turn life takes – when Rumpelstiltskin does what any creature famed for their foul temper should do – and learns to meditate.   

It starts by recapping the traditional tale of Rumpelstiltskin ... or, what we might call the bad, sad and chronically ill-tempered chapter in his life before he learnt meditation. 

If there's any truth to the notion that many of us possess our own inner Rumpelstiltskin in some form, then not just the Dalai Lama but plenty of scientific research suggests that meditation might be the answer.  

Calm’s new version of the story is more than just a piece of whimsy. The sort of transformation that Rumpelstiltskin undergoes in the new tale is based on scientific evidence of the real effects that meditation can have.  

“There’s a wealth of research showing that meditation can make people kinder, more compassionate and less angry," says Alex Tew.

One study by Northeastern University – commissioned by another meditation app – found that as little three weeks meditation can increase compassion by 23% and reduce aggression by 57%.


The Big Bad Wolf undergoes a comparable transformation. With a little help – and some tough love – from the three little pigs, he learns how to quell his anger, finds a new side to himself and becomes a different, better and far happier kind of wolf.

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