Empathy and kindness give support to the needs of teenagers. A mindfulness teacher shows capacity to listen and a caring response to those who find it hard to express themselves.
Remember to show confidence, not timidity or arrogance. Be original and creative. Confidence can develop from one session to the next.
Do not get stuck in a fixed form. If a session occurs regularly, then ensure a new session engages the teens rather than repeat the old as interest can start to fade.
Let the teens know what you enjoy and appreciate about being with them.
Twelve Explorations for the Application of Mindfulness for Teens
Remind the group of the importance of confidentiality after a session. That means not naming/talking about an individual(s) later.
- Ask teenagers in the group what concerns them. Teens could tick box anonymously three primary areas besides box of list below on piece of paper given to them.
In Alphabetical Order
- Addiction to mobile phone/texts/video clips
- Body image
- Fear of speaking
- Feeling accepted,
- Life at home,
- Negative content on Instagram/Pinterest
- School/exam pressure,
- Social life
- Thoughts of self-hate/self-harm
- A combination of above or something else?
2. Select one or two concerns for the session. Teacher might share briefly their experience, if useful to teens.
3. Teens can write anonymously their concern, fold up the piece of paper, place in a box. Pass the box around for each person to pull out a question and read out to others.
4. Explore a theme. For example. If body image, then meditation on the body, such as body scan. If future, meditate on breath to ground oneself.
5. Teens enjoy movement. Play range of music they enjoy and encourage them to move or dance. If shy or fearful, provide eye masks for everybody.
6. Ask how they feel after sitting meditation or moving meditation. Again, make anonymous notes available.
7. Provide yoga mats. Mindfulness of Touch. One teen is horizontal. Two teens hold a hand each and two teens hold a foot each. Teen in horizontal posture experiences the four places of contact. Share experience afterwards. Spoken or written. Rotate. A few minutes for each.
8. Q and A. Two teens sit and face each other. 5 mins. One asks the other: What makes you happy? The questioner only asks questions. Then the questioner and answerer exchange roles. Then another question: What challenges do you have to deal with? Form small groups with a question and one person after reads a sentence or two to whole group.
9. Each teen receives a small item of drink or food. A small glass of water, small slice of bread, a raisin, a biscuit, a grape, a slice of apple. Hold the item with outstretched arms. Be mindful of it. Ask questions. Describe the journey of the food item starting with planting of seeds in a field to it being in the hand. Smell the item. Feel the touch in the fingers. Place the tongue on it. Bite and chew until it is a liquid. Ask teens. What is the benefit of mindful eating? What is the benefit of developing inter-connection between food, farms, wholesalers, transport, shops, purchase and tasing?
10. Power of Empathy. Teen to write down or say a sentence or two of somebody teens know who they appreciate. It is not necessary to mention the person’s name. She or he may be in the group or not.
11. Power of Kindness. If you have thought, said or written something hurtful or nasty to another, say or write something that shows you can take responsibility and you wish to make amends.
12. Regular two minutes of shared silence. Sit in a circle together and share the silence. What is the value of a mindful silence? Eyes can be closed or open. Teen to speak or write down words on abiding in silence.
Remember to offer a summary of the session and encourage participants to apply features of the meeting in daily life, such as at school, home and with friends.
Email an outline of the session so teens remember key points and invited suggestions for the next session. Ask what teens would like to explore next time.
PS. Will write blog soon to support parents/guardians and teenagers at home.