Category Archives: Mindfulness and Teachers

Help Support Local Mindfulness in Action by Contributing to a Global Vision: mindfulTV

by Barry Boyce

Barry BoyceBarry Boyce
Editor-in-Chief-Mindful Magazine

A longtime professional writer, editor, and trainer specializing in applications of mindfulness and awareness to everyday life, Barry is editor of The Mindfulness Revolution and served as developmental editor for Congressman Tim Ryan’s book, A Mindful Nation. Barry is a member of the Formative Board of Directors for the UCSD Center for Mindfulness Professional Training Institute.

Friends of mine from Baltimore were presenting a program on mindfulness and yoga for at-risk youth a few weeks ago, and I attended for several days. What struck me most was the sharpness and the dedication of the school teachers (K-12), social workers, and caregivers who took part. One of them was from humble Hagerstown, Maryland. (You know the sort of place: people say, “I think I’ve heard of that” or “I drove through there once.”) I know Hagerstown. I grew up in an even smaller town nearby. There are plenty of at-risk youth there, to be sure.

         Meeting the teacher from Hagerstown, and others like her, told me that mindfulness is reaching beyond the big cities now and into the towns and villages, and it’s being delivered by people who care a lot about the health and well-being of our communities—in every dimension: bodily health, mental health, education, social cohesion, and more.

         At Mindful magazine and in mindful.org, it’s our mission to present mindfulness, awareness, kindness, and compassion to a wider audience, and we’ve been hard at work doing that. So, I’ve been so delighted that we’re able to search out stories of people bringing mindfulness into every corner of society, and share them with a wider world. When I hear from a would-be-father who saw our piece on Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting and gained a new appreciation for the significant event he’s about to enter into, I know we’re having an impact. The fact that we can tell the story of the first police department in America to systematically introduce mindfulness into their training means we are breaking new ground. On mindful.org, users can get a window into all the help that’s available for someone who wants to work more effectively with the overwhelming stressors in their personal lives and in their organizations.

         We would like to go one step further, though, in sharing the stories and the work going on in the world of mindfulness and related practices. We want to add sound and moving pictures. I want our growing audience—community really—to make face-to-face contact on their computers and smartphones with people just like them (You are not alone!) and people who are role models for making a little bit go a long way.

         When I look at the little video of my friends Ali and Atman in Baltimore, the mindfulness and yoga folks I mentioned above, I’m struck by how much of a difference it can make when I’m able to see someone and hear what they have to say—with all the intonations and facial expressions (and sometimes animated graphics) that go along with that. Likewise, I’m struck with how powerful four minutes with Frank Ostaseski talking about Finding a Place to Rest in the Middle of Things can be, or Jon Kabat-Zinn on the Benefits of Meditation.Mindful-TV-CROP-logo

         Doing a lot more of this kind of storytelling is a key part of our business plan. Internet TV is powerful. It’s arresting. And it reaches more people because, for one thing, you can get a whole lot in a short time and you can access it anywhere. Adding another channel for these important stories, advice, and instruction is a way to leverage more change. It also creates a rich archive of the pioneers of this movement. We need to record in moving (in both senses of the term) images more of what the people in the mindfulness world have to offer and deliver it to an ever-widening audience. That’s why we’re starting mindfulTV.

         Your support for mindfulTV not only helps us innovate, it also supports Mindful’s ongoing work and helps us reach sustainability. For more information on our mindfulTV initiative, and to learn about our crowdfunding campaign that’s taking Mindful to the next level, go here.

The UCSD Center for Mindfulness and Professional Training Institute fully support Barry’s vision and mindfulTV. We encourage you to donate now to help mindfulTV take advantage of the 1440 Foundation’s matching funds.

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.

“Transforming Basic Quality of Life in Youth and Adults” More Than Sound

by Max Breiteneicher

logo_MTS-logo-1More Than Sound produces and publishes media in the fields of mindfulness and conscious leadership-two areas they consider crucial to society’s continued development.

HanumanGolemanMore Than Sound’s founder, Hanuman Goleman, was introduced to formal mindfulness meditation by Sayadaw U Pandita, Michele McDonald, and Steve Smith in 1989 at the first young adult retreat offered at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, MA. Now known as the Teen Retreat, it has been an introduction to mindfulness for hundreds of teenagers over the years. In 2007, Hanuman began volunteering as a discussion group facilitator at the Teen Retreat, and in the years since, he has been a part of introducing the transformative experience of mindfulness practice to young people. This work led Hanuman to take part in establishing a monthly young adult sitting group at Insight Pioneer Valley in Easthampton, MA.

“Because the brain, body and heart all share a state of rapid development in our teen years, the insights and kindness developed in these retreats becomes integrated into the foundation of their life experience,” Hanuman says. “From these retreats the teens have more tools to work with difficult negative emotions and relationships, to develop positive mind-states and a stronger sense of self-love.”

Seeing the benefits that the changes brought about by mindfulness have in transforming basic quality of life in youth and adults alike has been a main drive behind the development of More Than Sound. They record and publish CDs, videos, and books from thought-leaders in the emerging field of affective neuroscience, from renowned mindfulness teachers, and experts in emotionally intelligent leadership. More Than Sound is dedicated to aiding in the continued integration of mindfulness practice in the secular world, as they believe that this union has potentially enormous benefit for both the prosperity and humanity of our shared future.

The opportunity to partner with The Center for Mindfulness at UCSD in bridging2013badgeoffering the videos of their Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth conference was a natural next step for More Than Sound. This conference brings together a special community of professionals united around a common goal of helping our young people reach their potential and be happy, healthy, well-adjusted human beings who practice compassion, patience, equanimity and presence. Our recordings of the conference are a perfect way to broaden our community and educate others interested in introducing mindfulness techniques to our future generation.

To this same end, More Than Sound also offers practical mindfulness instruction from distinguished teachers. Their most recent release in this area is the CD, Working with Mindfulness, with mindfulness teacher and organizational management expert Mirabai Bush. Bush is the founder of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, which has led mindfulness trainings for thousands of employees and executives of major corporations and non-profits, including Google, Monsanto, Hearst Publications, and the Fetzer Institute.

Bush was also a key contributor to Google’s now-famed Search Inside Yourself curriculum. Working with Mindfulness is a series of practices based on traditional mindfulness practice but crafted around a work environment. There is mindful e-mailing, for example, coping with change, and managing negative emotions. Participants in Bush’s programs through the years have consistently reported reduced stress, increased productivity, more creative problem solving, and improved relationships – all essential for a top-performing workplace, and for happier lives.

More Than Sound is proud to have a working partnership with the UCSD Center for Mindfulness and to be involved with the important work of Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth. Sharing the work of these educators, researchers and therapists is way to be of further benefit to the continued understanding and practice of mindfulness techniques in our lives.

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. To be recorded by More Than Sound

Follow More than Sound’s social media sites;

Website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest


Take This Job and….

By Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D.
Education Director, Greater Good Science Center

Wait! Here are some research-based ways teachers and
principals can rejuvenate their passion for their jobs in the new
year.

I’ve always thought that educators are some of the luckiest people in
the world. No really, just hear me out: Yes, the work is harder than
many people understand and so many of them are underpaid, but it’s
also one of the most inherently meaningful jobs a person can do.
And that’s no small thing.

Reflecting_over_the_ocean_1

(Photo Credit Isaac L Koval)

Researchers have found that people who see their work as meaningful, or having some special significance, experience lower levels of job
stress and higher levels of job satisfaction, motivation, and performance. Finding meaning in our work also protects us against burnout—a serious issue for teachers.

Yet, in all the crazy busyness of managing a classroom and leading
schools (this applies to administrators as well!), it’s very easy to forget
why you’re doing this job in the first place; the meaning might have
slowly leaked out over the years. But it’s possible to get it back. As you move forward with your work in the new year, I encourage you to take some time and reflect on the meaningful aspects of your work. To help, I suggest writing down your reflections, as scientists have found that journaling about positive
experiences can improve our health. Revisiting what you’ve written can also help sustain you during times of intense pressure and challenges.

To guide you in this process, I’ve assembled a list of research-based
thought-prompts—ideas to get you thinking about how you derive a
sense of meaning from your important work. You can use them either
on your own or with your colleagues. Administrators might also
consider sending these exercises home with teachers to share collectively at the next staff meeting—a great way to promote a
positive school culture!

1) Remember why you became a teacher in the first place. Was
it to make a difference in children’s lives or society in general? Or
maybe because you wanted the variety, the creative outlet, or the
daily challenges that teaching offers? Perhaps you were greatly
inspired by a teacher and wanted to give other children the same
experience.
For some people, teaching is a calling, which researchers believe
involves a transcendent summons beyond oneself and a desire to
serve humanity. When people feel “called” to do their jobs or if they
see that their work has a definite purpose that reflects who they are,
the work naturally feels deeply meaningful because it connects them
to their personal values.

2) Recall those moments when teaching made you feel ALIVE—
as if you were “running on all cylinders.” Meaning can be derived
from those times when you are personally immersed and intrinsically
motivated by your work. Most likely, this happened because you were
expressing your “authentic self”—the matching of your actions to your
perception of your true self.
When I was teaching, I experienced these moments with project-based
learning. No pedagogical method excited me more than helping
students apply their learning through self-created projects. Here was
an opportunity for students to develop their creativity and innovation
and teamwork skills—things that I highly valued in my work and in
myself. (A childhood spent creating haunted houses and elaborate
plays with friends had to lead somewhere…)

3) Think of a time when you made a difference in a student’s
life. Work becomes meaningful when you believe you have the power
and ability to make a difference. Teachers impact students’ lives all the
time—sometimes to a greater degree then they realize.
I’ll never forget the note I received from the mother of one of my
students who had a serious speech impediment. She thanked me
profusely for helping her son to believe in himself and to once again
love school. I had no idea the difference I had made in her child’s life,
but it deepened my appreciation for the tremendous responsibility that
comes with teaching—and hence, enhanced the meaning of my work.

4) Appreciate your colleagues. Our relationships with others often
create the most meaning in our lives—both at work and at home—
especially if they’re comforting and supportive. Teaching can be very
isolating, so it’s a big deal when teachers come together to share their
knowledge, accomplish a project, or just to ask, “How’s it going?”
As a new educator, I particularly appreciated the teachers who offered
their support and told me that the first year is always the hardest.
When I became an administrator, I worked hard to create caring
relationships among the staff because of the special significance these
relationships held for me as a teacher.

5) Reflect on the contribution you are making to the world.
Work becomes meaningful when we feel connected to something
larger than ourselves. On those days, when it seems like all your
efforts are infinitesimal in their impact, remember that they’re not:
When teachers consider how they can make a profound difference in
each of their students’ lives (see #3 above), it doesn’t take much to
realize how each of these lives adds up to a bigger whole, exerting
tremendous influence over the world in which we live.
In my workshops for teachers and administrators, I like to end with a
quote from Williams James: “Act as if what you do makes a difference.
It does.” If I could post this in every classroom in the world, I would—
just as a gentle reminder to you and everyone around you how
important and meaningful your job is.

Wishing you a very peaceful—and meaningful—new year.

Teachers and administrators who would like to learn more methods for
renewing their passion for their work might be interested in attending
these two upcoming conferences:

bridging2013badgeBridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth: Mindfulness in Clinical
Practice, Education and Research
February 1-3, 2013 Catamaran Hotel, San Diego, CA
Presented by the UCSD School of Medicine and the UCSD Center for
Mindfulness, this conference is for people who want to develop the
skills and competencies to teach mindfulness to today’s youth and
learn what science has to say about this kind of work.

GGSC_Logo-NoText-ForWebsite_99_97Practicing Mindfulness & Compassion
March 8, 2013 Craneway Pavilion Conference Center OR Live Webcast
This day-long conference presented by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley and featuring a keynote by Jon Kabat-Zinn, will illuminate the connections between mindfulness and compassion, focusing on how mindfulness can deepen relationships, enhance
caregiving, and build compassion.

An Introduction to Mindfulness for Teachers and their Students

kaisergreenlandsusan-1Susan Kaiser Greenland, JD, Author, Educator, is the developer and co-founder of the Inner Kids mindful awareness program for children, teens and their families. She is author of The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate (Free Press, 2010). Susan teaches children, parents and professionals around the world and consults with various organizations on teaching mindful awareness in an age appropriate and secular manner. We’re thrilled to announce that Susan Kaiser Greenland’s Inner Kids training, for the very first time, is now open to the general public by application. 

bridging2013badgeWe are grateful that Susan Kaiser Greenland delivered the opening keynote addressThe Mindful Child: Teaching the New ABCs of Attention, Balance and Compassion at our 2012 Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth Conference. This year’s conference February 1-3, 2013 features many more great presentations including a special Mindful Parenting workshop presented by Jon & Myla Kabat-Zinn. Please click here for this year’s agenda.

When I say the word mindfulness to a group of educators and ask what the word signifies I get several definitions.  The term is ancient and not surprisingly has taken on many definitions over time.   This is a paradox of language:  As a word becomes popular, its original meaning can become vague.   Although the movement of mindfulness into mainstream secular society is relatively recent, we already see some instances where its meaning has become blurred.  That is why I’ll begin this introduction to mindfulness for teachers and their students by describing what I mean when I talk about mindful awareness.

The root of the word mindfulness (called sati in Pali, the language of the original mindfulness texts) is memory or recollection.  In classical Buddhist training mindfulness is used as a tool to investigate inner and outer life experiences.  Buddhist scholar Andrew Olendszki describes the classical view of mindfulness:

“[M]indfulness derives from a root meaning memory or recollection and refers to the cultivation of a certain presence of mind that remembers to attend with persistent clarity to the objects of present experience.  Like meditation in general, it involves placing attention deliberately upon an object and sustaining it over time, but unlike one-pointedness and absorption [meditation], mindfulness tends to open to a broader range of phenomena rather than restricting the focus to a singular object.  Like a floodlight rather than a spotlight, mindfulness illuminates a more fluid phenomenological field of ever-changing experience rather than isolating a particular object for intensive scrutiny. This alternative mode of observation is necessary because mindfulness practice is more about investigating a process than about examining an object.” (Olendzka, 2009)

With this classical view in mind, the secular mindfulness approach we teach is not a narrow one that offers techniques for every “difficult” situation, but rather a process-oriented approach through which educators learn a way of being with youth that strengthens and supports how they communicate and teach.   By investigating inner-and-outer life experiences with mindfulness, educators and their students refine attention while developing social skills and greater social/emotional awareness that strengthens the attachment relationships between children, teens and their teachers. It’s not uncommon for educators and youth to describe mindfulness as transformative. This inner-transformation hinges upon how well we communicate key universal concepts to newcomers. Articulating key universal concepts simply and accessibly is the first step. The second, equally important step is to create opportunities for youth and educators to experience a visceral understanding of those key concepts and provide a framework within which they can contextualize them.

The framework Inner Kids uses is the ABCs of Attention, Balance & Compassion through which we simply articulate more than forty key universal concepts. These key universal concepts are derivative of wisdom traditions, modern science, psychology, and educational pedagogy and are common to one or more of these fields.  As a mindfulness-based program we pay close attention to universal concepts drawn from Buddhist training that can be taught in a secular way. These key concepts are not only universal but also comprehensive. They’ve already been translated into well-established secular adult programs (most notably Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn) and the secular programs for adults have been the subject of extensive peer-reviewed, scientific research studies for decades.

The process of investigation known as mindfulness is experiential learning at its best and can be taught to youth through a series of games and activities that provide students (and their teachers) opportunities to understand key universal concepts. By singing songs, playing games and participating in mindful awareness activities a framework will emerge naturally within which students can better understand and contextualize life experiences that feel “more or less mindful” to them. We couch this framework within the language of eight strategies (or life-skills) that help students manage life’s ups and downs. These strategies are stopping, focusing, choosing, quieting, seeing, reframing (if appropriate), caring and connecting, and each of them relates to one or more of the ABCs of Attention, Balance & Compassion. We introduce our strategies in a circle, with focusing in the center because it is at the heart of classical introspective training and a pre-requisite to utilizing the other seven strategies effectively. Here’s how the seven strategies emerge through the investigation of inner and outer experience with mindfulness:

It becomes easier for students to stop when they have a heightened awareness of sense impressions (I’m feeling anxious, I’m feeling upset, I’m feeling out of control) that cues them to pause and reflect before speaking or acting. As students slow down, breathe and focus, their minds tend to quiet and a space opens up in their moment-to-moment experience that allows them to see what’s happening in and around them more clearly and make wiser choices. Through this process students become more attuned to their inner and outer worlds, and as a result they notice how everything and everyone is connected and changing. As they begin to recognize these connections and patterns, other qualities like caring and connecting naturally emerge.

Given that educators have a heavy workload, it’s important that mindfulness doesn’t become yet another “add-on” to an already overloaded classroom routine. Mindfulness-based activities can be easily ‘dropped-in’ to what educators are already doing and are well-suited to circle time, a morning meeting and/or classroom transitions. Mindfulness-based songs, stories, and activities needn’t be dreary, sedentary and quiet. They can be fun and stimulating as they introduce the strategies and key universal concepts that support the ABCs of Attention, Balance & Compassion and give students and educators an opportunity to practice them together.

Before sharing mindfulness with your students you’ll want to learn about it yourself.  A good place to begin is with Congressman Tim Ryan’s new book A Mindful Nation.  Born and raised in Ohio, and representing constituents deep in the middle of America, Congressman Ryan is an unusual guy.  Those of us who advocate for research to investigate the effect of mindfulness-based social and emotional learning programs in public education have found a friend in Congressman Ryan and owe him a debt of gratitude. In his book he explores the science that supports mindfulness and offers dynamic, real-world examples of secular mindfulness in schools, the military, and the workplace.  If you live near Santa Monica, California, you can hear US Congressman Ryan speak on February 19th at public talk entitled:  “Mindfulness: Can it go mainstream?” In this event sponsored InsightLA, Congressman Ryan will join the editors and publisher of the new magazine Mindful [link to mindful.org] for a conversation about mindfulness going mainstream.

This post is an excerpt of an article published in the California Association of Independent Schools Faculty Newsletter for the Southern Regional Meeting, 2012 

Seizing the Moment and Supporting the Work: Giving Mindfulness to the Next Generation

Ellyn Wolfe (2)By Ellyn Wolfe, MEd
Co-Director Workplace Initiatives & Giving
UCSD Center for Mindfulness

Within the virtually exploding field of mindfulness, perhaps no facet is growing faster and spreading wider than that of teaching mindfulness to the youth of our society. Imagine the vast potential of transforming this generation of children into a future generation grounded in a practice that promotes stability and composure, wellness and healthy relationships, and enhanced cognitive function.  This movement is on an unprecedented ascendant path within education, clinical practice and research.

bridging2013badgeThe UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth Second Annual conference February 1-3, 2013 in San Diego is uniquely positioned to further contribute to the growth and vibrancy of the field by assembling the thought leaders, program developers, researchers and educators in an environment of collaboration, connection and dialogue. From presentations by leaders like Jon & Myla Kabat-Zinn, to the diversity found in innovative school-based programs such as Katherine Weare of the .b The Mindfulness in Schools Project  and the amazing work of bringing mindfulness and yoga to the inner city by Ali & Atman Smith’s Holistic Life Foundation,  it is all represented at the conference. This year the conference opens with first-ever research symposia covering a variety of topics, including interesting work by Lisa Flook of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds  on “Mindfulness in Early Education to Promote Self-Regulation”and a full symposia session exploring research around clinical interventions using mindfulness to address issues of kids and teens with chronic pain, HIV, and ADHD. This movement is on an unprecedented ascendant path within education, clinical practice and research.

The conference presents an opportunity for those who actively participate and contribute, to make a real and lasting difference in the course of society, and in particular, to the field of bringing mindfulness to the next generation. The Center for Mindfulness is actively seeking the financial support of individuals and corporations who are interested in making an impact on the emergent field of mindfulness as an agent for change.  These contributions are essential to our success in connecting and supporting the hundreds of educators, researchers and experts who will attend the Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth conference and then carry the practice and research learned to every corner of the globe.  Every donation as a general conference supporter or as sponsor for the Friday night Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn public lecture (which benefits the Youth and Family Programs at UCSD CFM) is important.  Every donation makes a difference.

We welcome the support of anyone in a position to give and make a significant difference in the lives of our children through supporting the important work of this conference and its attendees. If you or someone you know is interested in supporting this work, please feel free to contact us at mindfulness@ucsd.edu or by calling 858-334-4636.

One can also donate directly via the Center for Mindfulness Online Giving site.

Author’s Note: Education that motivates the individual to higher levels of being has always been a part of my life.  With a master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a master’s certificate from the Fielding Institute in Evidence Based Coaching, and Clinical Training in Mind/Body Medicine with Dr. Herbert Benson at the Mind/Body Medical Institute in Boston, I train corporate leaders in the art of coaching and coach clients to be the best they can be.  For the past twenty years I have worked in the corporate world teaching mindfulness-based programs for a variety of companies, including Dr. Herbert Benson’s Mind Body Medical Institute, FleetBoston Financial and the San Diego Convention Center.  What a different place the corporate world would be if employees and leaders had grown up understanding and practicing mindfulness.

To that end, I have recently been named as Co-Director of Workplace Initiatives and Giving, a newly launched arm of the UCSD Center for Mindfulness.  I will be working with my co-director, Christy Cassisa, to develop programs that address corporate need and also to elicit support for the UCSD CFM. I look forward to hearing from you through the Center for Mindfulness at mindfulness@ucsd.edu.

Exploring the Many Benefits of Mindfulness in Education, Breathing In, Breathing Out

bridging2013badgeby Bill Madigan, Vice Principal, King Chavez High School as originally posted on the Adventures in College & Career Readiness (AVID) blog 12-4-2012.

Bill_Madigan

I speed walked across trolley tracks as I traveled between the two small campuses of King Chavez High School.  I had suddenly been hired as a vice principal, knowing little of what that really meant.  My thoughts danced awkwardly with several new partners: a daunting “to do” list of mentoring new teachers, creating curriculum for an advisory, and a bigger ambition, figuring the best way to introduce AVID to this ripe family of children perfectly suited for AVID magic.

My mind buzzed, really.  As I raced to the “A” street site, homeless people lining my path, my ears began ringing, slowly increasing in volume.  A rather standard sign of stress – not negative stress, actually, for me at that time, but stress all the same.

I purposely began to focus on my breathing: in through the nose, out through the mouth, in through the nose, out through the mouth.  Within about 20 breaths, the ringing had subsided.  This exercise took a little over a minute.  What happened to the excited state of stress?  In terms of neuroscience and psycho-biology, my brain had a new focus, which decreased my heart rate, reduced the adrenaline released into my blood, and lowered the stress hormone from hell: cortisol.  Blood pressure dropped and a deep-brain loop of calm replaced a loop of anxiety.

This is called mindfulness.  Mindfulness is the intentional grounding and focusing of our attention on the current moment.  This can be done in the manner I described, the traditional breathing way, or in other ways like closely observing an object: your hands, a piece of food, or a visual focus point, among others.  We have all heard the command “take a deep breath” especially in education or to “count to 10.”

Years ago, I had an emotionally disturbed young man in an at-risk program who would occasionally start to scream, “The walls is breathin; the walls is breathin!”  He would do this in the middle of class.  I found through trial and error that the best remedy was to ask him to take my big broom and sweep the hall all the way around my building.  This would take him three or four minutes.  Like a miracle, he would come back a different brain.  He had a simple mundane task to re-focus his attention.

Dr. Richard Davidson out of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, is a, if not the, father of research into mindfulness.  He is the neuroscientist who traveled to India to study meditation and its effects on the brain.  Dr. Davidson has also directed the focus in neuroscience away from purely cognitive processes to look at emotions and their role in health, memory, attention, and motivation.  When I first attended his “Symposium on Emotion” five years ago, there were roughly 10 to 20 studies per month focused on meditation.  Now there are several hundred a month.

The findings are universal: continued mindful practice has several effects on brain function and health.  Many studies have also avoided the use of the loaded terminology like “meditation” or “mindfulness,” or “TM” (transcendental meditation), preferring to call the practice “directed focus exercises.”  Their results are the same.

Drum roll! The top effects of mindfulness are:

The reductions of blood pressure, cortisol in our blood, among many other hormonal effects, have obvious positive consequences for our health.  There are also positive findings for anger and even pain management in the raft of literature.

Yet, the ability to “focus on one thing” stands out to me as a holy grail in learning.  Secondly, the ability to reduce stress before high stakes tests also sounds like an AVID “go-to” practice.  And since AVID anchors learning in teams, families and groups of learners, improving relational capacity sounds darn good, too.

Dr. Steven Hickman, director of the UCSD Center for Mindfulness told me he thought the greatest positive result of mindfulness practice is increased compassion and desire for connection.  He said that, “When we clear the decks, what bubbles up are the deepest natural urges of our beings: compassion and connection.”  When we stop fighting, judging or controlling in our environment and relations, we actually have a natural, more effortless capacity for kindness and creativity.  When the primitive brain, especially the amygdala, is on high alert, our most creative and most advanced brain is nearly shut off: “I was so upset I just . . .”  You fill in the blank.  We act most primitively when we are most threatened.  No compassion bubbles up.  The neural pathways are chemically shut off.  We just react.  Mindfulness reduces the feeling of threat, reduces the fear of losing control, and over time gives us the space to be creative, compassionate and connected.

I just can’t forget the immediate relief of that high stress ringing in my ears as I traveled from one part of my new exciting life to another.

Take a deep breath: In through the nose, out through the mouth.

_________

For a great video on the topic, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzitPzNHHV8

The UCSD Center for Mindfulness is pleased to note that along with Bill Madigan (author of this blogpost),  several representatives from AVID will be attending the 2013 Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth Conference: Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Education and Research. If this is an area of interest for you, please consider attending too!

Educating from the Heart, Transforming Education

by Marilyn Webb Neagley

My role as director of the Talk About Wellness initiative since 2004 had focused on  inspiring contemplative and inner life programs in public schools.   This year the new goal has been to bring the message of our book, Educating from the Heart, and the lessons of mindfulness-based meditation to wider audiences.

While still working in partnership with the South Burlington Wellness and Resilience Program and other school districts we have been offering workshops, lectures and in-service instruction to such organizations as:

The Mindfulness Center Conference in Norwood, MA; Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children; The Vermont Association of School Counselors; Champlain College; The Woodruff Institute Institute and soon Middlebury College, Dickinson College and the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference.  My co-editor, Aostre N. Johnson received a Fullbright Fellowship this year and will be extending the message of the book to schools in Ireland.

Whenever possible, I bring another presenter, usually from the South Burlington program, who has been trained to use mindfulness practices for various grade levels in public school settings.

Talk About Wellness has funded instruction from Linda Lantieri, Daniel Rechtschaffen, Patricia Broderick and has connected to the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and Parker Palmer through retreats, lectures and/or workshops.

The goal of Talk About Wellness has been to bring an “inner life” dimension to education through contemplative practices such as mindfulness but still include other elements such as time in nature, reflective writing, art, music, friendship, play, gratitude, and kindness.

Mindfulness-based Education in K-12 Public Schools, “Educating from the Heart” – Marilyn Webb Neagley, Ferris Buck Urbanowski and Sheri Rand

Hear and learn about the outcomes of the district-wide Wellness and Resilience Program held in South Burlington, VT. through attending this conference breakout session. In its third year, 160 educators have participated in the training and implementation. The program has ongoing support in mindfulness skills, has compiled research data, and has developed a “training of trainers” program to
enable greater outreach. Anyone who is interested in bringing mindfulness-based education to public schools would be interested in this session.

Social Emotional Learning and Mindfulness-based Contemplative Practices in Education: A Meditation from the Field

 by Linda Lantieri and Madhavi Nambiar

Mr. Gray, an educator in his second year of teaching in New York City wrote out his resignation letter and left it on his desk. As a final measure, he chose to attend a Renewal and Restoration Retreat for Educators provided by The Inner Resilience Program – a nonprofit organization started right after September 11, 2001 to help teachers in Lower Manhattan begin to heal and recover from the tragic events of that day. He felt he had nothing to lose. “I was so tired of trying to balance the pressures I was feeling, I wanted to quit. After the retreat I went home and ripped up the resignation letter sitting on my desk. I found that place in me that knows why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place.”

What allows an educator to stay strong, creative and connected to purpose amidst adversity while another to burn out and leave the field of education altogether? What inner resources do students, teachers and administrators draw upon in order to respond to moments of profound crisis and uncertainty in schools? Are schools preparing our children for a life of tests or the tests of life? For more than a decade, these are the questions the Inner Resilience Program has been grappling with. Mr. Gray, one of many educators in this country was teetering on the edge of burnout and happened to attend one of our retreats at the right time for him. But every day several gifted teachers leave the field of education due to the immense stresses they face. In fact, the modal year of experience in the American teaching force today is only one year – and the average years of experience have dropped by over 30% in the last decade.

The Inner Resilience Program is a research based social emotional learning program dedicated to the mission of cultivating the inner lives of students, teachers and schools by integrating social and emotional learning (SEL) with mindfulness-based contemplative practice. At its core, IRP programs provide the necessary tools for educators, parents and students to balance their inner and outer lives. By recognizing the role chronic stress plays in the lives of educators and their students, IRP focusses first on the adults in the lives of our children, and then on the children themselves.

At the cutting edge of the field of SEL is the emerging recognition that the components of social emotional learning when integrated with contemplative educational experiences are powerful. SEL competences such as self-awareness when integrated with mindfulness-based contemplative practice can take on a new depth of inner exploration, managing emotions becomes self-discipline and empathy becomes the basis for altruism caring and compassion. This integration not only gives teachers and students an opportunity to slow down enough to pay attention to their inner lives but also gives them pedagogical tools to cultivate skills that foster calm and resilience making them better teachers and students in the classroom. The benefits of regular practice can and often include increased self-awareness and self-understanding, greater ability to relax the body and release physical tension, improved concentration and the ability to cope with stressful situations in a more relaxed way improving communication between adults and children.

So it comes as no surprise that last week, mid-afternoon when a student in Mrs. Evelyn Fisher’s kindergarten class at Williamson Elementary School in Ohio walked quietly over to the peace corner and began to cry, within seconds she was surrounded by five other students. With gentle pats on her back, they coached her: “Breathe in, breathe out.” As a minute passed, a teacher walked over to them. “We got this…” said one of the students. Another minute passed, the student returned to her desk, her distress evaporated. “They didn’t need our help,” observed Martha King, a school counselor at Williamson and liaison for the Youngstown School District’s Skills for Life program, which was introduced last year as a collaborative effort between the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL), Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility and The Inner Resilience Program, “Because of this program, they have been given tools that they can use to help them to relax.”

With such practical tools and the necessary space for educators to renew their own connection to their vocation, IRP holds the vision that schools can be active, engaged and supportive learning communities that help inspire our young people so that they have every resource they need in order to become contributors to a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

Linda Lantieri, MA, Director, The Inner Resilience Program – Tides Center, and author of Building Emotional Intellegence will be presenting the Keynote Presentation Sunday February 3, 2013 , at our Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth Conference.

Cultivating the Inner Lives of Students and Teachers

Is it possible for schools to nurture the hearts and spirits of students without violating the beliefs of families or the separation of church and state? Many courageous educators are beginning to acknowledge that cultivating the inner lives of children can become an integral part of a child’s regular school experience. Using principles derived from modern brain research, this presentation explores how the adults in children’s lives can cultivate the habits of mind, body, and heart it will take to continually relieve the pressure that modern children face. It focuses on strengthening social and emotional capacities by equipping both adults and young people with some form of regular contemplative practice that can help them manage emotions, increase compassion, and instill stillness. The presentation: • Identifies the possibilities and practicalities of building a bridge between the inner life of mind and spirit and the outer life of secular education. • Discusses the many pathways that support the creation of “Schools with Spirit.” • Identifies self-care tools and reflective approaches for caring for ourselves and our children.

Madhavi Nambiar, MA, Deputy Director of Programs, The Inner Resilience Program Madhavi is one of the cofounders of The Inner Resilience Program and in its early years assisted in all aspects of program coordination and delivery.