Category Archives: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workshop for Educators

THANKFUL: Appreciating Beautiful Gifts from Children and Youth

By LeesaMaree Bleicher

LiseeMaree-Bleicher-300x168-2Visit LeesaMaree Bleicher, along with M. Mick Gardener, at the 2015 Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth Conference in their 90-minute breakout session called enlighten: a Trauma Informed Mindfulness Based Therapeutic approach combining Restorative Justice as an answer to youth involved in the criminal justice system. Promoting the concept of: Survivor Empowerment not Victimization of Recovery not Incarceration.

LiseeMaree BleicherAlbert Schweitzer said, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

Nowhere is this spark as bright than in the heart of a youth. Nowhere does there lay a stronger elixir to waken your purpose than in the sparkling enthusiasm of a child’s spirit. And nowhere is there a grander purpose than the need to ease the suffering of a child.

The beautiful thing about helping children is that buried beneath the armor and attitude is this snow-white innocence, this flawless foundation, this feral potential still connected to God, or source, or that which is greater than us individually. This goodness remains steadfast despite the harm adults have done.

Our mission is to guide them back to this place of bliss, if only momentarily. In the shift to recovery, not treatment, we have come to understand “recovery” as recovering that which was lost from us: innocence, joy, light, that feral potential. Discovering the road back to that place of purity and reclaiming our power is the key to freedom from suffering.

Our mission, should we choose to realize it, is to be the guides whose purpose is to steer youth back to reclaim their potential. We do this each time we teach that even in the unbearable moments in life and in the dark of a night of unimaginable pain, there shines a dim but powerful light that will one day illuminate the darkness. And within this light, there shines their power and their way out of suffering.

Ideally we strive to plant the seeds of patience, tolerance and acceptance in our youth.

We affirm: “Life is not fair 8359890249_ed085986b0_b-360x200-1and no you did nothing wrong. No it is not your fault. No you do not deserve what happened to you. No one can make it better, but one day if you just hang on — have faith — one day, I promise you will be OK. One day you will emerge from this stronger and more powerful than you can ever imagine.”

When the testimony of sharing lived experience trumps our cool “professional boundaries,” we make a true and lasting difference. Speaking from the heart and sharing our human experience plants seeds of hope, inspiration, and resilience in youth. Nowhere can we feel the way of freedom from suffering than knowing someone who has walked down a similar path of torment, come out standing steady despite someone else’s best effort to make them fall, and still has enough fierce courage left to tell their story.

Speaking candidly, most youth who like myself come to be in jail, in foster care, or other programs do so by force of their external circumstances. Many come from fragmented, broken homes where they witness and endure unspeakable acts of cruelty from the adults who should be protecting them. Rarely do youth land in these places by their own choice.

Emotional, physical, spiritual, and sexual abuse manifest in the blueprint of our souls and spirits. Such abuse might express itself as a 4th grader bullying his classmate, a youth stealing, a youth who yells obscenities at authority figures, who refuses to eat, who is promiscuous, who skips school, who takes drugs, who cuts their flesh in an effort to feel or not feel pain. It’s the days of silence before an attempted (or successful) suicide where we often mistake the symptom for the cause and fail in our attempts to “treat” them. It’s that approach which undermines the very core of their suffering. And it’s where we as adults fail them yet again.

It was in the vacant blue eyes of an 8-year-old boy named Travis who came to live in my home when I first realized how futile, how misguided, and how inhumane this system to care for children was. It is still raw, and I am not sure yet if I can fully capture how profoundly my time with him altered my heart. This experience both expanded my heart beyond what I thought was possible and then reduced it to nothing when he was gone.

One day while we were together, Travis “disconnected.” Fell silent, withdrawn. And I asked him, “What are thinking about? What makes you so sad? You can tell me anything, and I will believe you. And there’s nothing you tell me I won’t think is important.” After awhile, he came to me and said, “I’m sorry. I don’t know why sometimes I can be happy, and all of the sudden I feel sad. It comes out of nowhere.” I looked at him, cupped his tiny perfect chin in my hand, peered into his blue eyes and wrapped my arms around him. I hugged him tightly and said “I know. And it’s OK. I feel like that sometimes too. And you know what? One day you won’t feel like that all the time. One day you’ll take that sadness and turn it into happy.”

All he was unable to say was conveyed in the way he hugged me back. And in that precious moment when he mumbled “Thank you.” I thought my heart would break.

There was nothing I learned from a text book, nothing from evidence-based practice, and nothing in the foster parent orientation that prepared me for that moment. I reacted from my heart.

My only desire was to ease his suffering and instill within him the tiniest notion that no matter what he felt, it was OK and that it was only temporary.

The reality is that when we come into a child’s life to aid them, they are held in a punitive, restrictive, inflexible system. We don’t always look past that to what brought them into that system to begin with. If we increased our awareness, we would see that few children are delinquent, homeless, end up in jail, or in foster care by their own volition. They come to these places battered, bruised, and sad, having been victimized by adults.

In the months that passed with Travis, after my heart ran ahead of any reason, I watched a sad little boy turn into a bright, happy, fun-loving child who didn’t need medication or to be bounced around from foster home to foster home. What he needed was to be loved.

Now, there was nothing I could have offered Travis that ever could have replaced what his parents failed to give him. My love was a Band-Aid to soothe him until he could grow enough to care for himself. But far more miraculous than anything that I gave him was what he gave to me.

One of my tendencies was to over-explain myself; to offer excuses and/or apologies for nearly everything to everyone. One day, I was going on and on to a friend about why I didn’t do something when from the top of the stairs I heard this little voice say, “LeesaMaree, stop that. You don’t have to explain yourself. It’s OK whatever you do.” I froze at his wisdom and the fact that he cared to try to ease my suffering. Wow.

Then, I came to deeply understand the bigger context of this whole boundary thing. And I came to know that anytime we seek to engage in the helping of another being, it is not so simply a gift we give. It is not one sided.

The moment we think this, we have already failed. We as the perceived “givers” are really part of a mutually beneficial healing exchange connected to a greater energy. Once we come to understand and seek to increase our sensitivity and re-establish the heart in recovery and treatment, once we incorporate living testimony in our practice, only then will we make a true and lasting impact.

This time of year we celebrate thanks for Bridging Badgemany blessings. But as a “profession,” we overlook the rich and beautiful gifts that the children we encounter give us: the opportunity to care, to express our warmest compassion, and to ease suffering. All these things alter us. They allow us to ascend toward the deeper meaning of our shared human experience. The next time a child or a parent or someone else says thank you for the work you do, with humility and honor defer him or her and say, “No, thank you.”

Thankful

(a poem inspired the youth who have walked into my life and left imprints upon my heart)

The leaves fall…fluttering to the ground…landing like a thrush
Awaiting winter’s rush from summer’s dream
I remember summer… bright green and sparkling
and I remember you…your hand extended towards mine…offering me your heart
Giving me that moment…your time…yourself
You said, “Come this way. Here, let me show you… See the sun how it shines?”
Your smile confused the sun and stole starlight’s sparkle
“Listen. You can hear the grass tell its secrets …follow the burrowing bunny, he knows the way…see the Stellar Jay…as he chats up dawn…urging the flowers to wake up…he knows what I am talking about. His blue wings touch heaven”
I ran away from you…but never far… You were everywhere…in everyone
You tied me with a fragile cord of compassion…bound me to the fertile ground…tied me to heaven…left seeds in my hand
You allowed me to fall but not be crushed
Like the leaves, I too have been pink, russet, pumpkin and golden
It was the seeds you left… clutched tight in my hand
One day I remembered…it all came back in one fell whoosh
You cared …You took the time…You forgave me
You gave me another chance and a million more
You listened to me…You reignited the spark
Oh I am so thankful for You
Oh those seeds you left… I planted them under the moonlight…and when they blossomed…I crushed them and stuffed them in my heart
I knew what to do ’cause you said “the best way to show someone how much you appreciate them is to pass on what they gave to you.”
So…I watered the seeds with tears…transformed my fears…infused them with love
Oh I didn’t have it for myself…that care and concern
But I do for them…the ones that come behind me
So I scattered the seeds in the wind of each encounter
Oh, and I did exactly as you taught me …I gave my heart generously and… I fertilized the seeds with glitter…so that those who come behind me will sparkle brighter…than I ever did

Join February’s Unconference: Sitting in a circle and talking about what’s really alive for people

by  Susan Kaiser Greenland

kaisergreenlandsusanSusan 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).

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Have you heard that 2014 will usher in an era of mindful living? It must be true because J. Walter Thompson, a giant advertising agency with considerable qualitative, quantitative and desk research prowess, has identified the top 10 trends for 2014 and mindful living is tenth on the list. What’s more, mindfulness is implicit in several of the top 10 trends. In keeping with this year’s second trend “Do You Speak Visual?” here’s a video teaser:

It’s a funny video and so is characterizing mindfulness as a new trend given its ancient roots in the East and, through Pop icons like Alan Watts, the Beat poets, John Lennon and George Harrison, its decades old roots in the Western zeitgeist. But there’s no denying that mindfulness has become trendy and with popularization insiders are both happy and concerned. If you’re curious about the positive aspects of the growing mindfulness movement check out Mindful Magazine published by seasoned veterans in the field and, if you’re interested in insiders’ concerns, read Ron Purser and David Loy’s Huffington Post article Beyond McMindfulness.

The trendiness of mindfulness has created an explosion of interest in sharing it with children, teens and families and not unlike popularization itself, growing interest in kids’ mindfulness has created it’s own set of plusses and minuses. Last year, Amy Saltzman and Steve Hickman reached out to Mark Greenberg and me to ask if we’d join them in hosting a symposium connected with this year’s Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference at UCSD. Together we polled a handful of our colleagues and were especially struck by the following three responses:

* From Chris McKenna with Mindful Schools: “We are looking for issues that are really alive for people and not just theoretical.”

* From Lisa Flook a scientist with The University of Wisconsin, Madison: “How do we engage mindfully (with heartfulness and skillfulness) together and what are mechanisms for explicitly addressing this ongoing group process?”

* From Wynn Kinder with Wellness Works: “ Collaboration and cooperation are messy.”

bridging2014badgeWe went back to the drawing board and the symposium morphed into an Unconference with this Native American adage in mind: “In the circle, we are all equal. When in the circle, no one is in front of you. No one is behind you. No one is above you. No one is below you”.  Steve carved out a morning for mindfulness veterans, newcomers, and those in-between to sit in a circle and (borrowing from Chris) talk about what’s “really alive for them.” We chose this format with professional group facilitators to ensure the “mindful, heartful and skillful process” that Lisa highlights in her comments above. And, we promise to remember Wynn’s prompt that “collaboration and cooperation are messy”.

Here how the Unconference morning will break down:

* The 1440 Foundation has generously underwritten a significant portion of the event including breakfast starting at 7am.

* We’re honored that Sharon Salzberg will lead a meditation at 8:30am.

* Small, facilitated groups will meet for an hour and a half.

* We’ll conclude with a panel discussion moderated by Mark Greenberg.

Like much of the cutting-edge and field development work that’s happening in the mindfulness world, the Bridging the Hearts and Minds Unconference wouldn’t be possible without a generous grant from the 1440 Foundation.

Veterans slated to join our working circles include Sharon Salzberg from IMS, Mark Greenberg and Christa Turksma from CARE, Jim Gimian and Barry Boyce from Mindful Magazine, Vinny Ferraro and Megan Cowan from Mindful Schools, Lisa Flook from University of Wisconsin, Madison, Randye Semple with USC and UCLA, Lidia Zylowska co-founder UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center, Wynne Kinder from Wellness Works, Chris Willard who wrote A Child’s Mind, Rona Wilensky, Lesley Grant with Marin Mindfulness, Amy Saltzman from Still Quiet Place, Steve Hickman with UCSD and me.

We hope you’ll join us.

The Unconference will be held on the morning of February 7, 2014.  For more information and to register visit the UCSD website.

“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


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 

Advancing & Growing the Work We Hold So Dear

(With this post we welcome the subscribers from our former Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth conference blog site.  All future posts regarding the conference will be easily recognized as they will contain the Bridging badge pictured here. We recognize that all the fields our work touches are best served with one unified presence, and this blog is intended to be that place.)

A Message From Allan Goldstein
Associate Director
UCSD Center for Mindfulness

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

When I first read Daniel Goleman’s call in Emotional Intelligence for mindfulness to be taught in schools I could not have imagined that I would be sending a personal message asking for your support for a conference that brings together the wonderful growing community of people now engaged in that work.

For the second year, many of those key people will gather in San Diego, CA at the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth: Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Education and Research conference to learn, collaborate, and move this work forward. I would like to first invite you to join us in sunny San Diego and secondly, if this is not your field of work, to help us spread the word to the clinicians, educators and researchers that you know in the field.

We are thrilled, humbled, and grateful, that among our exemplary panel of presenters that includes keynote presentations by Linda Lantieri, Margaret Cullen and Tish Jennings, Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn will be presenting a workshop on “Mindful Parenting: Nurturing our Children, Growing Ourselves.” Jon will also be giving a special public benefit lecture for the UCSD Center for Mindfulness entitled, “Befriending Your Mind, Befriending Your Life:  Mindfulness and the Endless Adventure of Growing into Yourself.” The conference includes several research symposia, a poster session, and numerous breakout sessions. There are also optional pre-and post- conference workshops to choose from. Please view the full conference agenda on our website. Continuing Education credits for physicians, psychologists, therapists and educators will be available.

By all accounts our inaugural conference last February was an inspiring ground-breaking event. Now is the time to become part of our “Bridging” community for the benefit of all youth, now and for future generations. We hope you can join us and help us spread our reach to your colleagues and friends.

Allan

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.

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.