Author Archives: katieferrell82

What Does It Mean To .b?

logo_dotB.b pronounced (dot-be), stands for “Stop, Breathe and Be!” This simple act of mindfulness provides the kernel of a nine-lesson course for schools. Written by experienced classroom teachers and mindfulness practitioners, and evaluated positively by the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford Brookes, .b can be used in a wide range of context and age ranges, including adults.

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Richard Burnett and Chris Cullen, co-Founders of the Mindfulness in Schools Project, met in 2007. Along with Chris O’Neil, these schoolteachers had experienced the benefits of mindfulness themselves and wanted to bring it to life in the classroom. In approaching the development of a formal course, they tried to answer the following question: 

Question:  When 25 teenagers tumble into your classroom at 11:45 on a wet Tuesday morning, how are you going to interest them in mindfulness? They are tired. They are hungry. They are playing with their phones, and they’d rather be somewhere else. They’ve never heard of mindfulness, it doesn’t sound very exciting, and if you were to tell them that it involved periods of stillness and silence, you’d lose them before you begun. How are you going to convince them that mindfulness is a skill which could make a real difference to their lives?

Answer: .b (Stop, Breathe and Be)

The .b curriculum is a powerful and proven model for teaching mindfulness to teens. It is now offered in 7 countries and has been integrated into school programs throughout the U.K. This curriculum is considered a valuable resource for professionals in multiple disciplines who work with youth and who are interested in integrating mindfulness into their teaching.

.b and The Mindfulness in Schools Project have been featured in numerous articles and interviews highlighting the benefits of mindfulness training with teens, including a recent TED talk by Richard Burnett, .b co-founder.

The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness Professional Training Institute is proud to join efforts with the Mindfulness In Schools Project in offering the first .b Teacher Training on the West Coast.

Please join us for this event in July 2013 and become part of the .b teaching team here in the U.S. Information and registration can be found on the Professional Training Institute Website.

For a complete review of .b in the media please click here.

LorraineHobbsWe invite you to join Lorraine M. Hobbs, MA, CHom UCSD Center for Mindfulness Director, Youth and Family Programs and her distinguished co-teachers for the first .b teacher certification program offered on the West Coast, July 18-21, 2013, Francis Parker High School, San Diego, CA

I Was Different: Reflecting on the Impact of February’s 2013 “Bridging” Youth Conference

 by Nancy Lee

Smiling Teacher Carrying Textbooks and Apple
Nancy Lee is a 4th grade teacher at Cerritos Elementary School.  She has been conducting a 12-week program of mindfulness training, ”Mindfulness Matters,” as part of a University of Southern California research study. The training is for grades 3-5.  Nancy attended, her first Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth conference this year, in San Diego. The following is an essay that she wrote after her first day back in the classroom.

 

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The day began with the hustle and bustle of the morning chaos. The students filed into the classroom, chatting away, getting reacquainted with their classmates. But something was different. I was different. In the ruckus, I silently walked to the front of the room, sat in my teacher chair and chimed the bells:IM_mindfulness_class10_4626 Once, the class looked at me and slowed into their seats; twice, they stopped shuffling through backpacks and mingling with friends; three times, they silenced themselves and focused on me. I began by inviting them to take a mindful posture and to check into the moment. I proceeded to guide them through the 3 minute breathing space. Two minutes into the breathing space, my chronic tardier walked into class. Before walking in, he hesitated at the door, then tiptoed to the front of the room and gently laid the tardy slip on my desk, silently walked to his seat and joined us in the breathing. Normally, he would prance into the room, wave the tardy slip at me as if he was proud of being late, then proceed to his seat only to begin talking to his seat partner. Something about the stillness of the room made him aware of the fact that he was tardy. I don’t pray for miracles, but I hope he is on time tomorrow.

middle-school-croppedI followed my class in after recess, walked slowly and deliberately to the front of the room, but before I could reach for the bells, the class silenced themselves, without anyone having to monitor anyone. Then I heard the voice of my tardier from the back of the room, “Ring the bells, Mrs. Lee.” I told them, “The chiming of the bells is a reminder to help us come into the present moment, but you did not need the bells. You did it all on your own.”

After school, I began the Mindfulness Matters session with the 3 minute breathing space as I have done. But something was different. I was different. After the breathing space, one of the participants (one that most teachers would agree needs mindfulness) said to me, “Mrs. Lee, you said different things today.” I commended him for noticing. Then another student said, “You didn’t read from the binder today.” That was correct. I was able to set aside the script and guide the practice through my own experience and feelings, and the students noticed.images-1

The same participant then said to me, “I have a new pencil and I was mindfully looking at it.” “What did you notice about your pencil?’ I inquired. He proceeded to describe the pencil in great detail to the class. How appropriate that was. Today’s lesson was about seeing things mindfully.

It took 11 sessions, but I have finally learned to take off my teacher hat.

Save the Date February 7-9, 2014  Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth: Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Education and Research in a new location at the Paradise Point Hotel, San Diego, CA.

How Compassion Becomes a Verb (and a Movement): The Inspiring Story of “Compassion It”

By Sara Schairer

I believe that small acts of compassion by individuals can make a HUGE impact on our world.  Yes, it sounds cliché and unrealistic, but I know it’s true. How can I possibly know that?  Because Compassion It, the organization I’ve founded, has gone from an idea to a global social movement thanks to a handful of small acts by individuals.

Let me explain…

In the summer of 2008, I caught an episode of “Ellen” that changed my life.  Ellen Degeneres interviewed an author who spoke about the power of compassion.  He said it was the most important lesson to teach our children.  If our future leaders would be compassionate, every social problem on the planet would be solved.

I contemplated compassion for hours that day.  The word compassionate then appeared as ‘compassion it’ in my head.  Compassion was now a verb!  An action!  That made a lot of sense to me.

But did it make sense to anyone else?

I wrote out the words ‘compassion it’ and showed it to my friends Susanne Winslow and Jill Stoddard.  Because of their enthusiasm and encouragement, I decided to trademark Compassion It.

Fast-forward to the summer of 2011.  I had done nothing with this simple two-word phrase, because I was busy parenting a toddler and was getting my life back on track after a failed marriage.  I suddenly felt an enormous sense of urgency to do something with Compassion It.   I decided to make decals and magnets, and I sat down with talented graphic designer and friend, Mary Beckert.   She volunteered her time to turn my vision into something tangible.

In October of 2011, I showed a decal to my friend, Sherri Wilkins, who happens to be a marketing and advertising genius.  I’ll never forget her words, “This could be huge.”  WOW.  Talk about fueling the fire!   This propelled me to keep moving forward with my idea.  Wilkins began to help me get Compassion It off the ground.

In December, I caught up with my college roommate, Susan Kim.  She suggested that I reach out to her friend, Tony Chen, to seek entrepreneurial advice.  I called Chen, and he encouraged me to apply for a social innovation leadership academy through his current social start-up Movement121.  I applied, was accepted and found myself among a group of people from around the world who all had a similar mission – to make the world a better place through social enterprise.

The academy director, Mark Chassman, created teams.  Our first task as a team was to come up with a problem of the world and then create a business that would provide a solution.  My team voted to use Compassion It as our business, and I was thrilled to now have a group of bright, energetic and ambitious people helping me.

Throughout all of this, I was still unsure about what Compassion It would be.  Perhaps it could be the next “Life is Good,” a t-shirt company with a meaningful message.  Or maybe we’ll sell bumper stickers to get this message out.  I knew it would be some sort of business whose profits would go toward compassion education in schools.

I felt deep down, though, that Compassion It was a social movement.  It was much more than just a t-shirt company.  Compassion It was a way to live.

I expressed these thoughts with Sherri Wilkins, who said, “If you want it to be a social movement, you need to sell something less expensive than a t-shirt.  You need something small…like a bracelet.”  Soon thereafter, I thought of creating reversible bracelets that would inspire compassionate actions.

Heather Arnold, from my Movement121 team, came up with the brilliant idea to sell the bracelets in pairs.  That way, a person’s first act of compassion is to give the other bracelet away.

That first batch of bracelets arrived on my birthday – May 10, 2012.  I had 500 pairs.

My next question was, “Who is going to buy them?”

In the beginning of the summer, two of my teammates from the academy faced tragedy when their hometown of Northbrook, Ill., lost two young men to suicide and another to a car accident within three weeks.   Teammate Casey Tanner called and said that her town needed Compassion It as a way to unite and grieve.  She started a movement in Northbrook and used the bracelets as a fundraiser for the boys’ families.  Bracelets sold out in 42 minutes.  Thousands of residents of Northbrook still ‘compassion it’ daily in honor of those men.

One Northbrook resident, Marie Wojtan, sent her extra bracelet to a young woman in Great Britain by the name of Carrie Hope Fletcher.   Fletcher has over 90,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, and she posted a ‘jolly good’ bit about her Compassion It bracelet.

Thanks to Fletcher’s post (which has generated over 100,000 views), we’ve sold Compassion It bracelets to folks in England, Ireland, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.  Thousands of people all over the world now ‘compassion it’ each day.

And to think…if it weren’t for Ellen, Susanne, Jill, Mary, Sherri, Susan, Tony, Mark, Heather, Casey, Marie and Carrie, Compassion It would not exist as a global social movement.

This is just the beginning of a movement that I believe can improve the social consciousness of the world and ultimately lead to peace.  All it takes are small acts of compassion by each one of us.

Compassion It’s mission is to inspire daily compassionate actions.  Please join me, and let’s ‘compassion it’!

Mindfulness in Schools Initiative: An Interview with Lorraine Hobbs

We are pleased to bring you the first in a series of interviews about our UCSD Center for Mindfulness Youth and Family Mindfulness Programs. Through these interviews we hope that you will get to know our teachers and learn about the important work in which they are engaged.

Lorraine M. Hobbs, M.S., CHom., is a senior MBSR teacher and the Director of the UCSD Center for Mindfulness Youth and Family Programs. Lorraine’s passion for working with teens and families has led to a number of programs including a Mindfulness in Education program, a stress reduction program for teens at the Center, a Mindful Parenting program, and a one-day Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workshop for Educators. She has taught a number of curricula in several schools in San Diego and recently returned from Wales as a trained Mindfulness in Schools (MiSP) teacher.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Lorraine about .b (the MiSP curriculum) and her work with teens and families.

How would you describe .b?

.b is a uniquely-designed experientially-based curriculum, which utilizes video and media as a teaching tool in the classroom.  The MiSP website offers a description of the program as, “… 8 lessons, each teaching a distinct mindfulness skill, and each designed to do so in a way which entertains young minds as well as helping them to flourish.” Lessons are 35 to 45 minutes each and teach through a variety of culturally relevant images, wording, and formatting specifically designed to catch the interest and attention of teenagers. The presentation catches interest and attention while the exercises throughout the lesson cultivate awareness.  The program excels in the way that it cultivates awareness and purposeful attention through thought and sensation. It engages multiple senses and teaches using a variety of different learning styles. It really utilizes and incorporates sensory experience: visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic.

Can you give an example of how you have seen mindfulness training affect teens?

I have been leading our teen group here at CFM for four years and through that I have seen lots of very rich experiences.  After just a few weeks of learning the practices, teens will begin connecting the dots.  We will do a meditation, or an exercise, and kids will begin to share their experience of how this “mindfulness stuff” is affecting them at school or at home.  They will often say things like, “I notice how I can get out of the “hole” much easier when I pay attention to what I am experiencing. I am less likely to react and get myself into trouble.” In mindfulness, we teach awareness of thoughts, feelings and sensations and their affect on behavior.  When teens can learn to pay attention to their present moment reality, they have a better chance of identifying their reactive patterns and making better choices.  Teenagers can get “caught up” in the moment and without realizing it, jump on a runaway train of high drama, which can intensify and lead to – as Jon-Kabat Zinn says – catastrophic thinking.  For teens this can be more problematic if they have poor impulse control and under moments of high-stress act-out or act-in.  Helping them connect to themselves and not react to their “story”   is a particularly powerful experience for them.  We often see greater self-regulation as they develop greater awareness.  As a result, there is a shift from a stressful, worrisome or tearful place to a place of awareness, mindful presence and a greater freedom to choose.

How has mindfulness affected your life?

Mindfulness helps me discover the joy in my own life every day.  I find a greater appreciation for the more subtle and quieter parts of my life, which had eluded me before I began my practice.  It is from here that I try to teach, especially with teens.  They are so alert and naturally aware and they demand authenticity from their teachers.  If I can embody presence and a sense of joy, through my own practice, then I think it is a way of reaching others.

Why do you want to teach mindfulness to kids and teens?

It’s inspiring, it’s transformational, and it’s real.  I think mindfulness combats pain and suffering.

Helping kids to change their lives has many rewards.  I started this program because I saw the detrimental effects of stress on my own teenage daughter.  As she and other teens have gone through our program, I have had the privilege of witnessing powerful changes that have been truly inspirational to me.

Lastly, what is next? 

The Youth and Family Programs is currently offering a one day Teacher Training Workshop on stress reduction through mindfulness.  We are interested in expanding this workshop into a curriculum for teachers, who are interested in offering a mindfulness program to their students in the classroom.  There is a good deal of research as well as many anecdotes from students to support the benefits of a mindfulness curriculum in the schools.  However, we are here to support teachers and educators as well.  When teachers come to our workshops, we see the impact of stress on their lives, both personally and professionally.  Mindfulness can provide support and relief to the challenges they face each day in the classroom.  It offers a way of attending to the stressors through a momentary shift in awareness, which offers choice…the freedom to choose in each moment.

Join Lorraine Hobbs, MA, CHom; Amy Holte, PhD, MEd; Livia Walsh LMFT, MS, MA, RN for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workshop for Educators November 3, 2012 • 9am-3pm • Francis Parker High School, San Diego, CA

Also, save the date for our Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth: Mindfulness in Clinical Practice Education and Research conference, featuring Jon & Myla Kabat- Zinn, February 1-3 2013,Catamaran Hotel 3999 Mission Boulevard San Diego, CA.

How Do You Meet Your Suffering? Opportunities Abound to Learn Self-Compassion in San Diego

Dr. Kristin Neff and Dr. Christopher Germer have dedicated years to studying, researching, and teaching self-compassion. All of this dedicated effort and passion have resulted in the Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) program, a research- and skill-based eight week training similar in format to Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) but focused on this key component of how we meet our own suffering. Outside of Dr. Neff and Dr. Germer’s own courses, the The UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness is currently the only place offering MSC courses. (Note: Dr. Neff will present a one-day workshop on the topic in San Diego on September 22, 2013. See below for more details.)

Drs. Neff and Germer trained Michelle Becker, a San Diego Marriage and Family Therapist and MBSR teacher, as the first teacher of the program. She, along with Dr. Steve Hickman, the second teacher trained by Neff and Germer, will lead their second MSC program at the UCSD Center For Mindfulness this September.

In describing how thoughts arise from actions, Michelle noted that “when something bad happens, it is like being hit by an arrow, difficult and painful. Unfortunately, a second arrow, our thoughts and reactions, follows the first. Many times, it is these thoughts and reactions (i.e. “this shouldn’t be happening,” “you failed,” “you’re so lazy,” “maybe you’re stupid”) that cause the bulk of the suffering. The event, the first arrow, is painful, but how different would it be if instead of that second arrow, we just attend to the fact that the first arrow hurt?

Compassion is a response to witnessing suffering. Becker notes that “showing kindness and compassion to ourselves makes such a difference in our lives. Even simply responding by acknowledging ‘Oh wow, that hurt,’ radically changes our experience”.

Through mindfulness and self-compassion training, a space is formed between event and reaction, and within that space, Becker explains, we are able to choose how to react. “When we create the space, it’s the difference between reacting and responding. So when we choose to respond, can we be kind to our own selves?”

Kristin Neff

Kindness and compassion are skills that can be developed. Rather than continually judging and evaluating ourselves, self-compassion involves generating kindness toward ourselves as imperfect humans, and learning to be present with the inevitable struggles of life with greater ease. It motivates us to make needed changes in our lives not from a place of motivating ourselves with punishment, but because we care about ourselves and want to lessen our suffering.  But becoming more compassionate requires breaking down old habits and building new mindful skills and habits.

Step one in developing self-compassion is mindfulness. In order to change a habit, we must become aware of its existence. We need to become aware of whatever sensation, thought, or emotion is causing suffering. Once we identify our suffering, the second step is to remember that we are not alone in our suffering.  Pain and suffering are part of any life, and therefore our suffering is a simply a normal part of belonging to the human race.

The third step is to choose to respond with kindness toward our own selves.  Much like we would respond with kindness for a friend who is suffering in the same way. In Michelle’s words, “It’s really that simple. Not easy. But really that simple.” Awareness and compassion are learnable through education and practice.

MSC is based on research. Early clinical studies indicate that MSC practice will increase happiness and lessen anxiety and depression, as well as supporting and improving mindfulness overall.

Even people who have taken MBSR will benefit from MSC.  Michelle commented, “Both programs have the core elements of mindfulness and compassion. Compassion is not trained explicitly in MBSR, but it is important. We do these practices that help us become aware of where we are, and to the extent that where we are is painful. It would be a little bit cruel to become aware of pain and just meet it with harshness instead of offering ourselves the compassion each of us deserves.”

In addressing which program to take, she remarked, “People will benefit from both. There’s a lot of overlap between MBSR and MSC and it’s about which door you choose to take first. For some people, starting with MBSR would be preferable, and for others, starting with MSC would be preferable. If there is a lot of harshness, a lot of self-judgment and self-criticism, probably your experience with MBSR will be deeper and you’ll get more out of it, and it won’t be quite as painful, if you start with MSC.”

For more information on MSC and to register for the 8-week course starting September 20, please visit the Center for Mindfulness website.

To learn more about Dr. Neff’s pioneering research into self-compassion, check out her homepage, her book “Self-Compassion.”

One-DAY WORKSHOP in SAN DIEGO, September 22

You are invited to attend Kristin Neff’s Self-Compassion & Emotional Resilience one-day workshop on September 22, 2012 from 9 am to 4 pm, on the campus of UC San Diego. The workshop will provide simple tools for responding in a kind, compassionate way whenever we are experiencing painful emotions.

Planting Seeds: The Power of Mindfulness

A film for parents and educators combining comic book animation, documentary footage, and classroom materials.

“Planting Seeds” The Power of Mindfulness, the film’s working title, is based on the book, Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children, by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community
 and draws from Plum Village’s thirty years of mindfulness and compassion work with children, parents and educators. The film offers tried-and-true meaningful, fun, and engaging activities that kids can do in any setting and either self-guided or led by an adult. Key practices
presented include mindful breathing, mindful walking, inviting the bell, pebble meditation, the Two Promises or ethical guidelines for children, eating meditation, and dealing with conflict and strong emotions.

“Planting Seeds” will be shot this July in Plum Village, France, during the month-long Summer Retreat, in which thousands of families from all over the world learn how mindfulness can enrich and heal people of all ages. Throughout the month, parents, teachers, childrens, monks, nuns, and Thich Nhat Hanh let us into their experience and share their stories and practice of mindfulness. The result is that this feature documentary and animated film gives everyone an embodied experience of peace and wellbeing and effective tools for creating peaceful, happy lives long after the film is over.

You can learn more about the project, read updates from the film team, or donate to the project, at http://www.indiegogo.com/plantingseedsfilm.

We invite you to participate in one of our UCSD CFM education-based mindfulness Youth and Family Programs; Stress Reduction Program for Teens or A Course in Mindful Parenting.

If you are an educator please consider joining us for our popular  Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workshop for Educators Saturday, November 3, 2012, 9am-3pm.

We are also  happy to keep you up to date on all the exciting developments taking place around our upcoming  Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference February 1-3, 2013, Catamaran Resort Hotel, San Diego, CA. Stay informed about Jon Kabat-Zinn’s benefit lecture and very special 3-hour workshop on Mindful Parenting with his wife Myla Kabat-Zinn on the conference website and through liking the conference Facebook Page.

“Mindful Communication” A New Minor Offered from the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht


With this post we begin an initiative on our UCSD CFM Blog of offering information about how some of our international colleagues are working in the field of mindfulness.

In September 2011, the Faculty of Communication and Journalism at the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht embarked on an experiment in interdisciplinary and multi-dimensional education through launching their Mindful Communication minor. While many of our blog posts recently have focused on children and teens, 18 third and fourth-year BA students comprised this group.

Although the study is interesting on many levels, from age of students to results, the topics of the 6 individual courses may well be the aspect that most catches attention and imagination. The four lecturers, Sascha Steinfeldt, Karin Bosveld, Paula Borsboom, and Petra Hubbeling, designed the minor to be 2 blocks of 10 weeks, 7 of which are lesson weeks. MBSR, non-violent communication, and mindful perspectives on sustainability comprised the three courses in the first block. Then followed the second block with business spirituality, business case and coaching & intervision. Within these interdisciplinary and diverse lecture topics, the minor aimed to build competencies such as increased ability to apply knowledge and understanding, integrate multidisciplinary perspectives, and communicate, as well as gain awareness about self and others, increase joy and vitality, and reduce stress.

At the conclusion of the program, all graded the minor 7-10 on a 10 point scale and most said they would recommend the minor to other students. Many students reported increased wisdom and self-knowledge. Students suffering from burnout and rheumatism, and one who reported overwhelming grief over a partner’s death, all reported improvement in health, compassion, and frequency of non-judgmental thoughts. In general, there was an astonishing openness and sense of security and support in the group.  Students reported in their reflection reports that they were pleasantly surprised by this openness and the security they felt with both fellow students and lecturers.

All in all, the breadth and results of the program are remarkable and I hope that we will hear more from these educators and researchers in the future.

For more information please contact Karin and / or Sascha under:Karin Bosveld | Lecturer Journalistic Skills and English Proficiency| Institute of Communication | Department of International Communication & Media | Utrecht University of Applied sciences, Padualaan 99 – 3584 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands | P.O box 8611 – 3503 RP Utrecht, The Netherlands | T. +31884813524| F. +31884813040 | karin.bosveld@hu.nl | http://www.hu.nl or Sascha Steinfeldt, senior mindfulness trainer at The Potential Project & freelance lecturer at University of applied sciences Utrecht Sascha.Steinfeldt@potentialproject.com http://www.potentialproject.com

Online professional training in teaching mindfulness to teens is now offered through Stressed Teens

For parents, teens, and interested parties out there, we hope you will check out Gina M. Biegel’s online classes at Stressed Teens. Gina Biegel, MA, LMFT, co-organizer of our 2012 Bridging the Heart and Minds of Youth Conference  where she will be presenting her popular workshop Mindfulness for Professionals Working with Adolescents: A Training in the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program for Teens (MBSR-T), is a psychotherapist in the bay area who has adapted the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program for a teen population. For more information on Stressed Teens Training Institute online classes, please click on the course title of interest below.

The Mindful Parenting: A Course for Parents of Teens provides a two-hour course on using mindfulness in conversations and interactions with adolescents. The Mindful Teen: A Course for Teens is another two-hour course, but this time to directly teach adolescents to handle their own stress.

For professionals, Ms. Biegel offers a ten week training in her acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Teens (MBSR-T) program, course titled 10-Session Stressed Teens Intensive Training, and a 3-Session Stressed Teen Intensive Supervision for those interested in learning to lead MBSR-T groups. Two other programs are offered, a three-course Specialty Topics for Professionals and a four-hour introductory session on mindfulness work with teenagers in Mindfulness for Professionals Working with Adolescents.

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Save the Date! Saturday, April 21, 2012 ~ AT&T Park, San Francisco, CA We’re excited to announce that our 2012 Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference co-organizer Gina Biegel of Stressed Teens will be presenting at Educational Revolution 2012, … Continue reading