Mindfulness for Teens

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”  Mother Theresa

Adolescents have just as much or more stress than adults. One way to help cope with stress is with “mindfulness”.  This practice can help teens  “handle everyday stress… anxiety before taking tests at school and enjoy daily activities like taking a bus or walking the dog.”  They also say it helps them to “ handle arguments with parents and friends, concentrate in class, handle repetitive negative thoughts..,improve relationships with friends and significant others, handle difficult moods, like depression and anxiety and stay in school instead of needing to go home when they are feeling bad.”

I have been fortunate to work with teens in a  mindfulness project at StockSnap_TD81IVHWGWwork.   It is amazing how they understand what we mean when we talk about “mindfulness” and how it can help you live your life in a better way.   Ayat, is one the girls I work with who wrote this article on the power of presence.

Mindfulness means that you are “paying attention…on purpose in the present moment non-judgmentally”.  Our minds want to take us into the past to think about what we did or didn’t do… or forward considering what we should or shouldn’t do in a few minutes, days or years.  All of this back and forth can keep us trapped in a negative cycle of worry, regret or being unaware of our present lives.

Mindfulness can help us to enjoy the actual moment that we are now in, using our senses and noticing what is around us and inside us. It can help us pay attention to how we feel and what we are doing. By being aware, in this way, we can significantly reduce our amount of stress, improve focus and improve relationships.

So how do you practice mindfulness?

  • When you notice your mind has wandered, come back to the moment. Try to notice how things look, smell, taste, sound and feel.
  • Take a few deep breaths. Practice doing this at a stop light, when picking up the phone, when you go through a doorway, or when you wash your hands.
  • Take 2-10 minutes a day to sit in a chair or on the floor and just keep your attention on your breath. When your thoughts wander, which they will, just notice and come back. Just be aware of your thoughts and let them float by, like clouds.
  • Practice “mindful” eating. When you eat….eat….Don’t “multitask”. Notice how hungry you are or aren’t, how the food looks and how it tastes and how it makes you feel.

Notice and try to enjoy this moment…. (and this one too). You might be surprised by what you discover.

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