Tag Archives: Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth Conference

“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 

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.

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

Cut Yourself Some SLACK!

Re-posted with gracious permission from Amy Saltzman’s The Still Quite Place blog  and website. Amy Saltman, MD, Mindfulness Teacher & Holistic Physician is Creator and Director of Still Quiet Place, Co-founder and Director of the Association for Mindfulness in Education.  Amy is recognized by her peers as a visionary and pioneer in the fields of holistic medicine and mindfulness in K-12 education. She has conducted research studies evaluating the benefits of teaching mindfulness to child-parent pairs, and to children in low-income elementary schools.

One day when my son was three, I walked into my bedroom to find him seated on the floor cutting thin green foam that he had pealed off  some clothing hangers. I asked “J, honey, what are you doing?” He replied “I am cutting slack.”  If a three year old can cut himself some slack then perhaps we mothers can do it too.

THE CRAZY PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

Most of us say “ I just want my kids to be happy….” However often, we so desperately want our kids to be happy that we make ourselves and our children a bit crazy in the process.

Loving our children and wanting them to be happy is absolutely natural. Yet somewhere along the way this natural impulse gets distorted.

Our culture tells us that happiness is found through “success”, accomplishment and the accumulation of things. And here is where things get crazy. When we identify as our role of parent, and  measure our “success” as parents on the happiness of our children, we find ourselves frantically pursuing the activities and things we think will make our children happy.

CIRCULAR THINKING

This circular thinking “I’ll be successful when my kids are happy”, and “my kids will be happy when they are successful” has us scurrying around trying to make our kids happier, usually by trying to make them more successful in their endeavors—baseball, bassoon, ballet…. Ironically every time we do this we are teaching our children to calibrate their happiness on external circumstances.

GUILT-FEAR-JUDGMENT

This is where the fear and guilt and judgment come in. Even though we rarely admit it, we are terrified that we are doing it “wrong”, that we have already irrevocably damaged our kids, and that they will need years of therapy to lead even remotely normal lives. This fear fills us with guilt and doubt. We compare ourselves to other mothers, and often assume that they have it more together; what my wise mentor calls comparing their outsides (the stylishly dressed mother we see at the school book faire) to our insides (the more or less incessant chatter of “shoulda, woulda, coulda”). We harshly scrutinize and judge our parenting and theirs. This fear, doubt and judgment fuels the various “mommy wars” (tiger mom, pussycat mom, working mom, stay at home mom, breast feeding mom, bottle feeding mom). As a result, we often parent poorly out of reactivity and paralysis.

DEEP BREATHS

So what’s the alternative? How about cutting yourselves, and other parents, some slack? How do you feel when you read that sentence? Take a slow deep breath, let out a long sigh, allow the corners of your mouth to curve up just slightly and whisper or shout “ I am going to cut myself some slack!”

HOW TO CUT SLACK

While this sounds good in theory, most of us need some slack cutting instructions.

  • Stop when you notice you are stressed out, beating yourself up, critically assessing your pathetic parenting, stop. Take at least 3 and preferably 10 deep breaths. And stop trying so hard to be the perfect parent.
  • Lighten Up With a sense of humor (which is not the same as self deprecation), acknowledge that in this moment despite your best intentions, you are not being the mother you want to be.
  • Accept that you are doing the best you can. Seriously, if you could do better in this moment you would.
  • Cultivate compassion for how extraordinarily challenging it is to be “good” parent even some of the time, much less all the time.
  • Choose what you want to do next—take 5 in the bathroom to recollect yourself, announce a “do over”, apologize to your child for snapping at her when really you were frustrated by a recent phone call with a colleague, set a clearer limit, get support….

And if worse comes to worse go into your closet with your children and several pairs of child-safe scissors, and cut everyone a piece of SLACK.

A Course in Mindful ParentingJoin our own UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness Youth & Family Programs Director Lorraine M. Hobbs M.A., CHom. and Lucas LearnMann in A Course in Mindful Parenting. Please check our schedule and registrations page as this course is presented on an ongoing monthly basis at our UCSD CFM meditation room. Whether you come for one session or on a repeated monthly basis we invite you to join Lorraine and Lucas in learning how to cut yourselves and your children some slack.

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.

Noted Neuropsychologist and Author of “Buddha’s Brain” To Offer Public Talk in San Diego in Feb.

Don’t miss Dr. Rick Hanson’s public lecture, Taking in the Good: Helping Children Build Inner Strength and Happiness at the UC San Diego Medical Center, Hillcrest Auditorium, San Diego, CA February 3, 2012, 7:00pm. Rick is a neuropsychologist and noted authority on the effects of mindfulness on the brain. He is the author of Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom and can be seen in this video highlighting some of the points he will cover in more depth in February.

Register Now $15 Per Person

Dr. Hanson will also be delivering a keynote address, Managing the Caveman Brain in the 21st Century at the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth: Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Education and Research Conference being held at the Catamaran Hotel, San Diego, CA February 4-5, 2012. This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

Opening the Heart at Stanford, Google and Beyond

Margaret Cullen is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Teacher. In 2008 she launched a mindfulness-based emotional balance program for teachers and school administrators in Denver, Boulder, Ann Arbor, and Vancouver, B.C.  Margaret will be co-presenting, along with Amy Saltzman, MD the workshop entitled SMART in Education: Mindfulness-Based Emotional Balance for Educators at the upcoming Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth: Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Education and Research conference, February 4-5, 2012 at the Catamaran Hotel in San Diego. (This article originally appeared in “Inquiring Mind.”)

Five years ago, a professor of neurosurgery at Stanford had a revolutionary idea: open a center dedicated to compassion right in the middle of the university. Today, The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) flourishes within this citadel of academia. Here, it quietly pursues its mission of supporting and conducting rigorous scientific studies of compassion and altruism, developing ways to cultivate compassion and promote altruism within individuals and throughout society.

Thupten Jinpa was enlisted as a visiting research scholar at CCARE, during which time he developed a course of study called the Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT). An eight-week program modeled after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (founded at the University of Massachusetts by renowned meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn), CCT teaches Buddhist meditation practices in a completely secular way. Instead of focusing on mindfulness, though, this training emphasizes practices of the heart.

Beginning by developing a foundation of breath awareness, the program systematically teaches students to cultivate the qualities of kindness (metta) and compassion (karuna). Each series of the program begins by sending kindness to people such as grandparents, friends and children—those individuals toward whom it is easy to access tenderness. From there, participants progress to thinking of people about whom they are ambivalent or who cause them downright frustration: the barista at the local café, the bagger at the grocery store, the ex-husband’s new wife. The CCT strives to help individuals imagine each of these people happy and flourishing. But the program also encourages participants to remember or imagine times when they themselves have been hurt, shamed, ill or suffering in some way. By working through such progressions, participants can learn to strengthen the muscle of the heart. Such strengthening can engender a fearlessness that allows them not only to send others wishes of love, and compassion, but to also breathe others suffering into their own hearts and to breathe out relief and ease.

To date, the program has been piloted at Stanford, Google, the Cancer Support Community and in a few series open to the general public in the San Francisco Bay Area. As one of the senior teachers, I have witnessed many transformations. A recent training I led with cancer patients and their loved ones generated a number of moving stories. The following are just two of the narratives of heart that emerged from the eight-week program:

A cancer patient in active treatment has been living with, and caring for, her ninety-five-year-old mother. Having developed her own capacity for tenderness and generosity, the daughter made a radical decision. At our closing circle she shared with tears that she and her mom had invited her suicidal and recently homeless nephew, a war veteran, to come live with them. She said, “Before this course, I might have tried to help him, but my heart wouldn’t have been open enough to take him into my home.” Through this extraordinary act of compassion, both she and her mother learned that, in spite of the limitations imposed by age and illness, they could find happiness by helping another person.

A retired professor of environmental science took the course in order to support his wife, a cancer patient. He told us, “I spent a lot of time talking with my students about the ‘problem’ of poverty, but I just didn’t feel the suffering.” About to cry, he said, “If I had taken this course earlier, I think I would have been a better teacher. Poverty isn’t just a term you can pass over and move on. I’m now able to draw it in and feel the pain. This has been a big aha.”