Ah the teen years, who doesn’t remember the angst and strife of becoming an adult. I vividly remember how challenging those years were for me. Learning to juggle school, part-time jobs, friend, relationships, after school activities and raging hormones. Every feeling was extreme–supreme joy and devastating sadness, often in the same day. Looking back at my life I find myself thinking, can what I have learned in the years since adolescence about being present and mindful help young people avoid some of the heartache and grief I suffered throughout my life as a result of my mind-full-ness–my near constant focus on external people, places and things?
While doing research for a new course, I discovered some interesting research being conducted in the area of mindfulness with teenagers, how serendipitous! The first study I read about was conducted in Belgium. The study tracked ” 400 students aged 13 – 20 over a six month period…and learned that teens receiving mindfulness instruction were significantly less likely to report symptoms of depression.” Another study out of UCLA taught student how to maintain healthy bodies, minds and lifestyles–including yoga breathing techniques, results showed those students have better impulse control than students who didn’t go through the program. A Brown University research study showed “that mindfulness practitioners are able to gain greater control over sensory cortical alpha rhythms, which help regulate the brain’s processing and filtering of emotions, including pain and depressive memories.” How cool is this to have science confirm my own experience!
I have been developing my course on mindfulness and teens with the help of my own nieces, ages 12 and 15. I have enjoyed working with them and appreciate their enthusiasm and feedback. I look forward to finishing it up and being able to engage a group of young people with tools to keep their balance in an important time of their life. My belief is that if they learn these techniques young they will have a much easier time in life as they mature through the different stages of life. The tools learned now can be a touchstone for them to come back to themselves when facing difficult challenges and live a purposeful, honest and happy life. Simple mindfulness practices can allow teens to take a step back from the stage and just breathe and discover who they really are under all the roles they are playing out (student, daughter/son, employee, girlfriend/boyfriend, etc). Course coming in early fall.