The Mindfulness Project & Mind Body AwarenessLeave the first response January 5, 2010 / Posted in Meditation, Mindfulness
I was just friended by psychologist Frank Wood in Facebook and came across something he shared yesterday that I thought would be worth sharing regarding Mindfulness. Frank along with fellow psychologist and Mindfulness practitioner Richard Sears have teamed up to create The Mindfulness Project
Below is a letter from MBA Co-Founder, Isaiah Seret to the Los Angeles Chief of Police regarding the challenges young people face today. MBA is the Mind Body Awareness Project. The MBA project has developed a unique mental training program consisting of mindfulness meditation and emotional intelligence exercises designed to strengthen youth’s minds, relieve their toxic stress, and build their ability to make better decisions.
Research has shown that there are benefits of mindfulness meditation, especially in the area of chronic disease management. The MBA was one of the first to bring this cost-effective rehabilitation service into a classroom setting. Customized for an urban youth population and delivered by our extremely dynamic instructors in a language and framework relevant to their lives, these programs have been successful in helping teens to develop empathy, gain impulse control, and equipping them with the tools they need to live meaningful lives.
The letter reads …
Dear Sir –
The young people in high schools today, especially those considered ‘at-risk’, face many challenges. Whether it is the major challenges of broken or abusive families, coping with poverty while everyone on the TV seems to be a millionaire, unplanned pregnancies and babies, or the slightly more minor challenges, like self image, trying to fit in, keep friends, be attractive and deal with all the cruelties that occur in their everyday drama, it is undeniable that these kids face difficult life issues at a very young age. While many of these challenges are often unavoidable, it is unfortunate that these young people do not have better tools to cope with these challenges in a healthy way.
Like all people, each and every one of them is caught up in a constant search and struggle to feel content. In order to achieve this, many of these teens essentially try to un-plug their minds from their problems. The main way to un-plug for the majority of these kids is by ‘getting high’, which comes with a whole string of secondary problems. Getting high can be achieved through many methods, not just drugs. Physical and mental violence allows one to ‘get higher’ than the person they abuse, and hustling to make money, legal or illegal, can give one a ‘higher status’. There are many ways to get high, healthy ones too, but essentially by getting high, these kids are able to rise up out of, or at least get away from, their primary problems.
When talking with these kids, however, you will not hear them say that they are trying to escape from their pain. They are usually not that self-aware. They know what they like and they know what they don’t like, and they will tell you. You will hear something like, ‘I like to kick it with my friends, get high, or whatever.’
This ‘whatever’ attitude has another side. It is the statement ‘whatever’ that can express their ambivalence towards everything they don’t like. ‘Whatever’ is how today’s youth express their extreme apathy towards teachers (and other adults) that cannot relate to them, and classrooms and institution that do not engage their interests. Breaking through this ‘whatever’ is the educator’s biggest challenge.
An Anecdote –
Upon introducing a meditation class at the Mission High School health fair, I was blown away by the degree to which these kids were disengaged. After teaching in Juvenile Halls, were there is at least an attentive audience due to an extreme lack of alternative stimulation, the kids I faced in high school were basically looking at me with one question. What can you do for me in this second? They assumed, ‘nothing’.
I ended up doing an exercise where I wrote on the board two words. ‘Like’ and ‘dislike’. I asked them to tell me all the things they liked, and all the things they did not, without holding back. Their faces lit up, they looked at me instead of away from me, and started calling out various things that I proceeded to write on the board. At the end, we did an exercise in which we concentrated on each side, first ‘dislike’ and then ‘like’ for about 30 seconds each. ‘Like’ made them feel good, relaxed, content, excited and ‘dislike’ made them angry, tense, and sad. In doing this, they immediately saw the power of thoughts over their body and mind. They were introduced to the power of their mind. However, this exercise revealed something different to me. It revealed that these kids have interests, passions, and inspirations, and that they yearn for an environment in which they can express them. We as educators need to tap into this, honor their yearning and offer them healthy ways to both express it, and along the way, become more self-aware. The self-awareness holds the key to knowing who we are and dealing with life’s challenges in a healthy way.
Best Wishes –
Board of Directors
The Mind Body Awareness Project
In southern Ohio, The Mindfulness Project, founded by Richard Sears and Frank Wood seeks to accomplish a similar mission of supporting teens in an effort to instill long-term goal is to bring hope and power to young people in order to help them find real freedom. To learn more about our work in mindfulness, please contact us.
Frank Wood is a licensed psychologist in Cincinnati Ohio. My contact information is 513-381-6611 or firstname.lastname@example.org