The Power of Mindfulness for Teens
Connecting Adolescents to Learning Mindfulness (CALM) is a new program for teens that combines the groundwork of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, among other mindfulness-based programs and adapts them for teens. In a recent session, one teenage had a wonderful experience that highlights the power of mindfulness for teenagers. Here is what he told us...
One part of the CALM program introduces a stone that has the word “Breathe” written on it and the teens spend some time feeling the stone on their abdomen and then as they breathe, making the stone rise and fall.
At home, one of the participants, we’ll call him Harry for anonymity, was in a big fight with his parents. He described himself as being “enraged” by their attitude toward him. He ran into his room and shut the door fuming with anger. All he wanted to do was kick the door and yell at the top of his lungs, “You can’t control me!!!”
The “Breathing Stone” caught his eye. He remembered his experience in class and how it helped him calm his anxious mind at the time. He decided to grab it, lie down, and breathe. After a short while, his breathing began slowing down and he started to feel more at ease. In fact, he even said he was happy.
He thought about what had happened and went back to his parents to talk about what had happened, but this time from a more balanced place.
To be able to regulate yourself in moments of distress is powerful.
The brain uses past experiences, especially those that are most emotionally salient, to inform present moment perception.
For Harry, his experience of lying down and breathing with the rock was emotionally salient enough that his brain was able to recognize the memory even in a moment of anger. There’s nothing we need to measure there, “The proof of the eating in is in the pudding,” as they say (Or shortened, “The proof is in the pudding.”)
We can ask ourselves, what would the days, weeks and months ahead look like for our teens if they were better able to regulate their emotions?
The exciting thing is that bringing mindfulness to kids and teens is happening more and more through organizations like Mindful Schools, Stressed Teens, Inner Kids, Inward Bound and so many more.
Hope for the future.
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.