Mindfulness is becoming more and more of a significant subject for teens and adults alike. It’s a mental health tool that is becoming more popular.
Mindfulness is a practice that can support you, particularly during this potentially stressful stage in life. It can benefit many levels of your being – the body, mind, and heart – even if only practiced from time to time. Although there are specific changes that you will notice immediately, mindfulness can have long-term, positive effects on your life that bring satisfaction, joy, fulfilling relationships, love, and more.
Mindfulness is the practice of becoming conscious of your internal and external environment. It is a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting the existing feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and surrounding activity. It can be used as a therapeutic practice among therapists and psychologist, and it has been used as a spiritual practice for decades.
There are so many benefits of mindfulness that it is beginning to be the top choice for therapists, psychologists, and even health instructors to use with their clients or students. Some of the benefits of mindfulness include:
- The ability to regulate the body into a more relaxed state when it’s stressed or tense. Mindfulness turns on the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to bring the body back in balance. The heart rate slows down, breathing becomes long and slow, and muscles in the body relax. The ability to relax is a significant ability, even for adults. For instance, for those teens who experience anxiety or panic attacks, knowing how to relax the body and mind at will is an essential task.
- The ability to have stronger connections with others. It’s common to feel alone, lonely, or isolated from others. However, mindfulness can lead to the experience of what Daniel Siegel, author of The Mindful Brain, called attuned communication. This task is essential for healthy relationships.
- The ability to let go of fears. Mindfulness can unravel those inner triggers and help to extinguish the trigger of fear and anxiety. Mindfulness can help you unlearn the response of fear to a particular stimulus.
- The ability to respond instead of react to triggers. Often, teens and adults will emotionally react quickly to triggers, perhaps with anger or sadness or frustration. In fact, reacting emotionally so might even feel like a human trait. However, mindfulness actually gives a teen the ability to respond with choices to a situation instead of react unconsciously.
- The ability to empathize with peers. Mindfulness encourages the ability to recognize the happenings in one’s internal and external environment, as well as get a sense of the internal landscape of others in social interactions. By having a sense of what’s going on inside of others, teens have a greater ability to be empathetic.
Other benefits of meditation include greater intuition, a growing sense of knowing right from wrong, and experiences of insights about life. Because of these benefits, more and more schools are incorporating mindfulness in their curriculum. For instance, one public high school in Oregon has recently established a for-credit class on mindfulness.
The practice of mindfulness can be a very effective practice for teens who might be experiencing teen addiction, bullying, and other social conflicts. For a teen struggling with the chaos of adolescence, a mindfulness practice can have incredible positive effects on the mind, body, and heart. For instance, one teen expressed the following:
Sometimes I have a hard time breathing because I have panic attacks. However, this class helps me bring more attention to my breath and overcome the challenges of that. I’m less stressed out and better able to cope with stress.
Despite these benefits for students, not all schools agree with offering mindfulness classes for their students. The practice of mindfulness and meditation is often associated with Eastern spiritual practices, and for this reason, not welcome in a public school’s curriculum.
Yet for those schools that are open to having mindfulness classes, it could bring great benefits to the lives of students, teachers, and parents.