My new project at the moment is to teach mindfulness at the secondary school I teach at. So what is mindfulness? Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment and becoming more aware of thoughts and feelings. It also involves being able to let go of thoughts and feelings that cause us anxiety. Regular practice of mindfulness helps people to control their thoughts and emotions. It also improves our ability to focus our attention, which is helpful for teenagers revising for their exams. Mindfulness can also stop teenagers reacting to situations and improve their self-esteem and wellbeing. Research shows that mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) can relieve stress, anxiety and depression in children (Saltzman and Goldin, 2008). Schonert-Reichel and Lawlor (2010) compared teenagers who had participated in the mindfulness education program with those who did not and found significant and positive improvements in their positive emotions, namely optimism. Brain scans show that mindfulness can actually change the way our brain works within 8 weeks.
So how can I teach my teenager to be more mindful?
You could start by going for a short 5 minute walk together and really trying to notice your surroundings. Point out anything in your surroundings that you notice along the way. Avoid being distracted in conversation and talk about your experience afterwards. At the end of the walk have a snack together and really focus on what the snack tastes and smells like. This is called mindful eating and helps us to become more aware of our senses. The next step in developing mindfulness is to become more aware of your body. In order to do this you can do a body scan, which involves bringing awareness to different parts of the body as you lie down or sit on a chair. For example, you might start by paying attention to how your abdomen moves in and out as you breathe; you then pay attention to how your legs, arms or shoulders feel. You can download and listen to free audio scripts on the internet, which teach how to do a body scan.
Does mindfulness work with children and teenagers? http://wp.me/p29Oas-nh
Mindfulness techniques for children and teenagers http://wp.me/p29Oas-gn
Children’s mental health http://wp.me/p29Oas-cv