Updated: September 23, 2020 | Original Post: September 4, 2019
We experience anxiety when we are focused on an uncertain and fearful future and depression when we remember pain from our past. By focusing on the present, children and teenagers can learn to control their feelings – this is the core of mindfulness. One of the ways that this is done is by teaching them practical techniques that are focused on body sensations. Focusing on breathing can help to control anxiety. Using all five senses can also do this. Because we use our senses to bring information into our bodies and minds, by focusing on them we purposely ground ourselves in the “now” and leave the “then” to another time.
Another key concept of mindfulness is leaving judgement aside. This is how a grade 12 student who has failed an important test can learn to recover. I often counsel my clients to replace the word “should” with “could.” Instead of saying “I should have studied instead of playing video games” I work with them to say “in the future I can do better by reading more.” When judgement is removed then solutions can be easier to find.
The benefit of mindfulness is that it helps young people learn to regulate their emotions. Being a teenager can be very difficult and is also a major transition period on our lives. Learning to be mindful at this age can help a teenager mature into an adult with less stress along the way.
Visit mindful.org to learn more about mindfulness. The video “You are not your thoughts” echoes a CBT concept (see my earlier posts here and here) that we often think that things may not be true but these thoughts can cause us pain.