Teenagers

  • Trying Out Mindfulness with Teenagers

    Surfboard Square
    written by Gaia Martinelli-Bunzl

    Adolescence Is a Challenging Time

    Being a teenager can be tough. From exam stress, to discovering one’s identity and sometimes tricky relationships with parents and peers, there are a myriad of reasons why young people find it hard to cope with their emotions. Along with all the social pressures of adolescence, teenagers also have to cope with their biggest brain growth spurt since infancy. The teenage brain is learning how to grabble with impulse control, how to read and process emotions and how to start making decisions, whilst at the same time experiencing a surge of new oxytocin receptors which can result in a new, intense self-consciousness (many of us will certainly remember that!).

    As a teenager, I remember the constant moods swings, peaks of anger (usually directed towards my parents), and acute stress over tests and exams.  I would long for the day high school would finish and when my life would ‘finally begin’. My studies were completely academic, and no one ever taught me about how my mind worked or how to deal with all these new emotions and onslaught of thoughts.

    The Magic Art of Mindfulness

     Fast forward to my early twenties. I was lucky enough to be introduced to mindfulness by my mother, and my life completely changed. I no longer felt like I was the victim of my thoughts and emotions. I learned to embrace and accept myself with more patience and kindness. I can truly say that there was a before and after mindfulness. In fact, I’m not sure how I survived life before it.

    Motivated by this personal experience, I began to think about how different my choices and experiences in life would have been had I learned mindfulness at a younger age. And I became convinced that all children and adolescents should learn it as soon as possible to help shape their lives in a positive way.

    Teaching mindfulness to teenagers is an incredible honour. I love being able to empower them with tools which help them become more aware of their emotions and thoughts, and how to deal with difficulties in a more skilful way.

    Get a Taste of Mindfulness with this Simple Practice

    Here is a simple practice to give a flavour of mindfulness to adolescents. This exercise helps to expand their awareness of their experience and notice what is happening in their mind and body, helping them to become more present.

    A parent, friend or sibling can guide it, by reading the following instructions and pausing for a few moments in between each sentence.

    Instructions:

    Begin by sitting in a comfortable, upright position. Let the shoulders relax, and have your hands gently resting on your lap. Let your eyes close or gently lower your gaze. - Notice one in breath and one out breath.- Notice where in your body you feel your breath the most. - Notice your feet touching the floor. - Notice where your body touches the chair. - Notice your hands touching. - Notice one in breath and one out breath. - Notice how your mind feels right now. - Remember something that happened yesterday. - Bring your mind back to right now. - Notice one in breath and one out breath. - Imagine something that might happen tomorrow. - Bring your mind back to right now. - Notice one in breath and one out breath. - Bring your attention to your right foot. - Bring your attention to your left leg. - Bring your attention to your shoulders. - Bring your attention to your left arm. - Bring your attention to behind your eyes. - Bring your attention to your ears. - Notice one in breath and one out breath. - Notice how your mind feels right now. - Bring your attention to the sounds in the room. - Open your eyes. You can stretch your body if you feel like it. - What did you notice when you did this practice? Was it hard to focus your attention on the different parts of your body?

    This practice is adapted from the Mindful Schools Curriculum.

    MEDITATIONS:

    Body Scan

    COURSES/WORKSHOPS:

    Mindful Parenting Workshop

    RETREATS:

    3-Day Mindfulness and Nature Connection Retreat