Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Importance of ‘Deep Listening’ to Young People (guest post)

David Castillo Dominici for

by Dr. Sam Himelstein, Center for Adolescent Studies 

“Deep listening is the type of listening that can help relieve the suffering of the other person... You listen with only one purpose.  Help him or her empty his or her heart.”
                                                        Thich Nhat Hanh

The Power of Compassion

 As a society, we marginalize our young people.  We invalidate them.  We don’t take their opinions seriously.

Deep listening can be a relationally corrective experience.  It can help kids realize for the first time what it feels like to be seen, to be witnessed, to be heard.  They feel for the first time ‘this person is respecting me.’  As we relate to youth as human beings, their trust and comfort grows.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Downside of Self-Righteousness

Stuart Miles for

I know I should learn from my mistakes...  but I actually prefer learning from other people's mistakes.  (Much less painful!)  

That's why I love this story from Start Where You Are, by Pema Chodron:
"I had been practicing [meditation] all day, after which you might think I would be in a calm, saintly frame of mind. But as I saw that someone had left dirty dishes, I started to get really angry."

Of the eight people on the retreat, there was only one person who would be selfish enough to leave a mess for somebody else to clean up.  Pema was sure she'd see that woman's name on all the dirty dishes.  Instead,  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Multiple Intelligences Lead to Mindfulness (interview)

photo courtesy Kathleen Hackett

Kathleen Hackett is an award-winning educator with over 35 years of experience teaching gifted students, deaf students, and adult literacy. She is the Community Outreach Coordinator for inLightenment, Inc., which provides teachers and families with high quality, research based educational materials. 

The BYTES Power Smarts story, Mindfulness! Not Mind Full Nest!, introduces children to mindfulness while also helping them learn how each individual's strengths and talents (Power Smarts) can contribute to a team effort to solve a problem. This free story has been published at and on the Teachers Pay Teachers website.

What is the connection between mindfulness and multiple intelligences?

Mindfulness is an awareness of what is happening in the present moment while being nonjudgmental. 

We are all born with multiple intelligences, and we use them to help us be aware of the present moment. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Five Contemplative Art Practices

Idea go for

"Although many of us, under the ceaseless bombardment of photographic and electronic imagery that we experience daily, have lost the gift of seeing, we can learn it anew and learn to retrieve again and again the act of seeing things for the first time, each time we look at them." 
(Frederick Franck,  Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing)

 There are a lot of different ways to practice mindful seeing through looking at or creating art.  Here are a few possibilities:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Are You Happy? Songs for Reflection and Discussion

imagerymagestic for
Here are a variety of songs about feeling happy, looking on the bright side, and pretending to be happy while hiding our true feelings. 

Scroll to the bottom of the page for questions to spark reflection and discussion about our emotions and how we experience and express them.

And if you need a quick mood booster right now, check out the video of Pharrell Williams' song "Happy," featuring absolutely everyone at Deaf Film Camp. (Really.  I mean everyone.)  

Feeling Happy

Feelin' Good, Nina Simone
lyricsvideo of recording by Lauryn Hill (audio with album cover)
"Fish in the sea you know how I feel.  River running free you know how I feel.  Blossom on the tree you know how I feel.  It's a new dawn.  It's a new day.  It's a new life for me, and I'm feeling good."

Feelin’ Groovy (The 59th Street Bridge Song)
"Slow down, you move too fast.  You got to make the morning last.  Just kicking down the cobblestones.  Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy."

Happiness, Ben Lee
lyrics; official video with home movies of children
"If you wanna fix a problem, then you gotta be happy.  Being happy is the only way out of the mess. If you wanna fix a problem, then you gotta be happy ‘cause happiness creates happiness!...  If you’re waiting for a reason, then you might never be happy ‘cause happiness creates happiness!"

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Red, Orange, Yellow: A Mindful Driving Practice

fantasista for

It all started with Rainbow Walk.  That's my favorite way to practice mindfulness of my surroundings, and it's been consistently in the top ten posts for the past couple of years.  So I thought it would be fun to try a "rainbow drive," looking at different colors like a red barn, the blue sky, and so on.

Let's just say that was not the most brilliant idea I've ever come up with.  I tried Rainbow Drive a grand total of one time, and it went like this:  

"Ooh,  look at the pretty flowers."   
"Oops, I just missed my turn."  
"Thank goodness that's the worst thing that happened while I was operating a 2-ton motorized vehicle on the public roads."  
 "What was I thinking?!"  

While driving, just drive.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Teaching English, Yoga, and Mindfulness in Indonesia (interview)

photo courtesy Alicia Brill

Alicia Brill is a mindfulness practitioner and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) educator from the United States. From September 2015-June 2016, she served as an English Language Fellow in Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia. In her free time, she likes to practice yoga, meditate, travel, and climb mountains.  She will participate in a 10-day silent meditation retreat before returning to the United States.

You introduced your ESOL students to yoga. How did you tie that in with their language learning? What advice would you give to other language teachers who might want to try yoga and/or mindfulness practices with their students?

I've practiced yoga off and on for around 10 years, but I had never made it a consistent practice. Over the New Year, I attended a yoga and meditation retreat on Lombok Island in Indonesia. The retreat reinvigorated my yoga practice, was my first introduction to meditation, and reenergized my life.

Shortly after the retreat concluded in January, I helped to co-facilitate a pre-service teacher training camp in West Sumatra, Indonesia. The facilitators were asked to lead an “American Moment” activity where we introduced the campers to a particular aspect of life in the United States. 

I decided to teach a yoga class. It was the students’ first experience trying yoga and my first experience teaching yoga. The students were engaged with it, asking a lot of questions (e.g., what is the history of yoga, what’s the meaning of Namaste). They seemed sponge-like in their desire to learn about yoga and Gumby-like in their ability to try unfamiliar poses!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Children's Author Emphasizes Mindfulness and Self-Acceptance

photo courtesy Sarah Kraftchuk

Toronto-based children’s book author Sarah Kraftchuk trained as a mindfulness facilitator with Mindfulness Without Borders and has an M.Sc. in the Neuroscience and Clinical Applications of Mindfulness from King’s College London. 

Teachers ordering books through can get a 15% discount using the code TEACHLOVE.

Your books Love to Be Me!, I Am. Magical Me!, and The Hue in You emphasize self-acceptance. What’s the connection between self-acceptance and mindfulness, and how do your books help kids learn to accept themselves and their moods?

Mindfulness is a practice of paying attention to the present moment in the spirit of kindness, curiosity and non-judgment. The practice of self-acceptance allows us to embrace our whole being and what makes us unique. 

Kids can learn how to explore their inner landscape and to feel all the feelings, as they are. Self-acceptance is an expression of self-love and compassion. 

As kids practice self-compassion and acceptance they may develop skills of mindfulness and compassion to connect with other people and the world around them. In order to accept we must first become aware, so these books provide a space to gently and playfully explore and discover inside.

Based on your studies of the neuroscience of mindfulness, what resources would you recommend that measure the effectiveness of mindfulness and show how mindfulness impacts the brain?

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Great Children's Songs about Mindfulness, Self-Acceptance, and Gratitude

Phaitoon for

In the song lists about gratitude, etc., I always try to include at least one song that can be used with younger kids. However, most of the songs are geared more toward adolescents and adults.

So here's a whole list with only songs that are appropriate for children... although they can benefit the rest of us, as well.  (I know several adults who find it really helpful to belly breathe with Elmo!) 

Sunday, May 15, 2016

How Mindfulness Helps Teens and the Adults Who Care about Them

photo courtesy Sam Himelstein

Sam Himelstein, Ph.D., works as a Licensed Psychologist in the Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center and is the founder and president of the Center for Adolescent Studies. Dr. Himelstein is the author of A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Working with High-Risk Adolescents and Mindfulness-Based Substance Abuse Treatment for Adolescents.

How can mindfulness help kids reduce their use of drugs and alcohol?

Mindfulness as a skill can help youth learn to be less impulsive and more self-regulated, and to develop a stronger ability to choose in their lives. The idea is that we’re teaching young people to gain greater autonomy and choicefulness. 

This is an empowered approach, rather than the norm that adolescents meet; adults basically telling them what to do or what not to do: 
i.e., “Don’t do drugs. They’re bad!”
Trying to force youth to change or stop engaging in a behavior by punitive means simply doesn’t work.