I You needn’t banish your brood to offer them the
April/May 2018 55
MINDFULNESS FOR YOUTH
t’s nearly impossible for today’s kids to
imagine a time before the universal ability
MORNING GROUP MEDITATION AT
AN INWARD BOUND MINDFULNESS
to summon up the weather, play their
favorite music, zone out on video games
and connect with just a swipe of a screen.
With all of the benefits, perks and entertainment
these handheld devices offer, it’s
easy to get sucked into a cycle of mindless distraction.
Experts fear our kids’ constant reliance on technology
is doing real damage to their development. A 2015
study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that
ADHD diagnoses spiked 43 percent nationally between
2000 and 2010, with one in 10 youths today diagnosed
with the disorder. Programs are springing up to meet
the needs of teens who are getting lost in the hightech
Inward Bound Mindfulness Education Retreats (www.
ibme.com), which operates throughout the country, offers
multi-day residential retreats to teach participants
proven awareness and concentration practices in the
idyllic Northern California setting of the Black Mountain
Retreat Center in Sonoma County. Through guided
mindfulness meditation, small group discussions and
mindful movement, participants learn the skills to
settle a busy mind, direct and sustain attention, investigate
emotions and thoughts, cultivate compassion
and communicate with their peers. The ratio of two or
three teens to each instructor ensures plenty of personalized
attention. Tuition is on a sliding scale.
benefits of mindful practice. The Mindful Schools
(www.mindfulschools.org) program has reached more
than 1.5 million students through its outreach to public
and private schools. This internationally impactful organization
is firmly rooted in the Bay Area.
Today, the far-reaching program is one of the key
players in the movement to integrate mindfulness into
the everyday learning environment of K-12 classrooms.
The organization has trained over 25,000 educators,
parents and mental health professionals who work
Mindfulness gets an A-plus from educators. Chris D.
Funk, Superintendent of San Jose’s East Side Union
High School District, credits it with helping students
in myriad ways, from coping with exam-induced anxiety
to maintaining composure and calm in classroom.
“Three years after adopting the mindfulness initiative,
teachers are reporting that discipline issues are going
down and student engagement is going up,” Funk attests.
“Breathing exercises and other awareness techniques
have resulted in benefits like better learning
and less stress for both students and educators.”
As we rethink the impact of a wired existence on the
next generation, it might be wise to embrace mindfulness
as a means to provide young people with a compass
to navigate their lives.