Tag Archives: UCSD Center for Mindfulness Youth and Family Programs

Conference Keynote Speaker Daniel J. Siegel, Neuropsychiatrist, on Why Our Teenagers Feel Compelled to Connect on Social Media

by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. republished from The Huffington Post , Dec. 30, 2013

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bridgingTile_forUCSDWe are inviting you to start the new year by reading this insightful post on the effects of social media from Dr. Daniel Siegel  (author of the forthcoming book (Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain). Hear, see, and meet him at this year’s Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth Conference! Dan will offer a keynote talk on Saturday afternoon following the regular sessions. The general public will be able to purchase tickets to hear his talk, and attendance will be free for conference registrants.

In these fast and furious days of digital overload, we parents often worry about our teenagers’ interactions with one another on social media. Who hasn’t seen a teenager deeply absorbed with a smartphone or breaking off a face-to-face conversation to take a picture for their friends on Snapchat? With heads down and screens lit up, watching our teens plug in can feel confusing, disappointing and even like rejection to us.

It can, however, be helpful to realize that the teen years are a time of incredibly important brain changes. Changes that drive an adolescent to turn toward peers rather than to the parents they leaned on for support during their childhood years.

In one way, it’s simply evolution: Throughout history, adolescents banded together to find safety in numbers as they moved out into the world, a world that was unfamiliar, uncertain and unsafe.

That world remains risky, even with all the advantages that modern gadgets provide us to map out our routes and pinpoint our coordinates. But to leave home and feel safe, we need to belong to other teens on the same journey. As teenagers, we are compelled to turn towards one another.

In order to get ready to leave the home nest, adolescents seek out membership in groups of other adolescents in order not only to feel good, but to survive. And feeling connected to others doesn’t just seem crucial to contemporary teenagers. In fact, the very engrained genetic programming of our brains gives us a feeling that connection is a matter of life and death.

Understandably then, social media can become a modern medium of connection that is deeply compelling for adolescents.

Here’s the great news: Social media provides a way for our evolved (and evolving) teenagers to find that connection in one another. That’s because social media actually provides the opportunity for creating relationships, and even can promote more face-to-face time.

Our traveling son, headed out to a new country without any contacts, checked on Facebook and found some college classmates headed to exactly the same town — with a spare room in their rented apartment! Years ago, when we traveled, such a connection would have been impossible to create.

While this medium may not be right for all teens, especially those with social challenges like anxiety, phobia or communication difficulties such as those on the autistic spectrum, some studies suggest that social media actually enhances positive relationships in adolescence — as it did for our son. And these relationships not only influence us, supportive relationships actually create health in our lives. Isn’t that something we all want for our adolescents? (And, yes, for ourselves too!)

Indeed, many of the changes in the remodeling adolescent brain can be seen to support a drive to explore novelty and to take risks, just like it encourages teenagers to make and sustain social connections. These adolescent changes are not signs of immaturity, but signs of preparation.

The emotional spark and social engagement, the novelty seeking, the courage and creativity of adolescence all have downsides and upsides, but the essence of these changes is to prepare for the transition between childhood dependence and adult responsibility. And social media may just be a modern means to make us become more deeply social and even more fulfilled in our lives.

Instead of viewing their behavior as impulsive or irresponsible, we can now see the adolescent period as one of wonderful transformation, of needed exploration of a new and changing world. The key is how to best make these vital means of social connection deeper, more meaningful and more likely to cultivate a sense of well-being in all our lives.

In the Wisdom 2.0 meeting held in Northern California each year, these are the very issues we toss around in our in-person meetings. You should see the pre-meeting buzz on social media channels that gets us all connected and primed to engage with each other face-to-face!

Together, we can cultivate a new conversation in our culture about how to make the most of these channels of communication, our collective effort to create media with meaning.

Brainstorm_Cover_LGLearn more about ways to communicate with your teen in Dan’s new book Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain available on January 7, 2014.

Like Dr. Dan Siegel on Facebook
Follow @DrDanSiegel on Twitter (#Brainstorm)

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.