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Perspectives on Mindfulness for Adults, TeachersKids, Younger ChildrenAdolescents, and in The Arts and Humanities.

Mindfulness and Compassion for Adults

Mindful Walking
photo courtesy Mindfulness Without Borders

Advice for Mindfulness Teachers and Practitioners
Melli O'Brien: "I think that a group setting is the best way to learn mindfulness for most people. People learn so much from each others’ experience, questions and stories... It is often the interpersonal interactions within groups that are the most powerful agents of change...We are always each other’s teachers. I am also constantly learning and receiving wisdom from participants at my retreats and workshops."

Buddhist vs. Secular Mindfulness Training
Dr. Seonaigh MacPherson: "Buddhism doesn't end with mindfulness; it just begins there. So, while all the secular research and programs tend to focus on mindfulness, in Buddhism mindfulness is understood as part of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment."

How Christians Can Benefit from Mindfulness Practice
Dr. Irene Kraegel: "Despite recent skepticism about meditation within western Christian circles, there is a long-standing tradition of meditation and contemplation within the Judeo-Christian tradition. The Old Testament is filled with accounts of meditation and exhortations to be still before God. In New Testament accounts, Jesus frequently withdrew from people to spend long periods of time alone with God... It behooves us to be intentional about our spiritual practices, and many people can benefit from an intentional integration of Christian faith and mindfulness practice."  

How to Cultivate a Joyful Mind
Shakti Burke: "Mindfulness is not a 'you will be happy from here on' scenario. It is a powerful method for dealing with emotions. The eight pillars of mindfulness facilitate the process: acceptance, non-judgement, non-striving, patience, letting go, trust, beginner's mind and self-empathy."

How Mindfulness Can Help Us in Challenging Times 
Mark Pallis and Christiane Kerr: "One of the common misconceptions about mindfulness is that it's simply a form of relaxation. It can certainly help you relax, but for me, one of the benefits about bringing your attention to the present moment is that you are able to be more engaged in what you are doing. So for people who are working in roles where there can be lots of baggage and pressure, mindfulness can help us focus as best we can on what's happening right now for the person we are trying to help. We can be more available to them; more able to help." 

How Mindfulness Can Help Us Wake Up to Oppression and Suffering
Jade Bryan: "Mindfulness really is inseparable from ethics, because we can’t reduce suffering (of ourselves or others) unless we look at everything and everybody as interconnected. Collective suffering is our own suffering—-but so is collective healing."

Mindfulness Helps Kids and Adults Handle Stress
Florenza Lee: "We may not have control over the situation, but we do have complete control in our response. My grandmother used to tell me as a child, 'we cannot stop birds from flying over our heads, but we most certainly can stop them from building nests in our hair'.” 

How Mindfulness Benefits Physical and Emotional Health 
Erin Sharaf: "It feels much easier and wiser to make informed, healthy choices up front, instead of chasing down and treating problems later. Mindfulness can really help us enjoy and appreciate making wise choices so it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice... Mindful awareness can really help us make the transition into healthier eating." 

Mindfulness as a Way of Life
Jennifer Howd: "I think one of the most important tips for beginning meditators... is to start small. Most folks want to dive in for 20, 30, 40 minutes... When I first started meditating I could barely sit for 3 minutes! So, I’d say a great place to consider starting is 5 to 10 minutes and then build from there."

Mindfulness and Compassion in West Africa
Dr. Emmanuel Ivorgba: "To see the world through the lens of others, and not only my lens, is to realize the presence of God around us and that we are connected to each other through ties both visible and invisible... The idea of living for the sake of others, being mindful of ourselves, others and our environments, is authentically African."

Mindfulness, Compassion, and Buddhism
Sean Fargo: "Some high-security inmates are among the most inspiring people I know...sitting with themselves day after day in their cells breathing, remembering... apologizing, forgiving, breathing, suffering, crying, empathizing... breathing... By the end, you’d be surprised to see how many ‘hardened criminals’ open up about their feelings in front of their peers. Finding freedom behind bars is no small thing."

Mindfulness Increases Creativity, Spirituality, and Connection
Brandi Lust: "Because of my interfaith and interspiritual interests, I've taken particular note of the way mindfulness very naturally intertwines with, and often enhances, the individual spiritual and religious lives of people from many different backgrounds... The same practice means different things to different people and engages us all at the level of our deepest humanity."

Self-Care Through Self-Awareness and Self-Compassion
Evalyn Gaskell: "There are a multitude of modalities to select from. It is not one size fits all. Each person is unique and what works for one does not necessarily mean it will work for another." 

Mindfulness for Teachers

Teacher Training Session
photo courtesy Dr. Susie Wolbe

Applying the Lessons of Aikido in the Classroom
Pete Reilly:  "Aikido is a martial art that is about managing a situation... without hurting the attacker... [It] doesn’t mean we give up our own center and ground, and it doesn’t mean we let our students do what they want. We simply manage the situation in a way that preserves everyone’s dignity. Aikido is about harmony, not winning."

Effective Mindfulness-Based Approaches, for Students and Teachers
Keith Horan: "Simply becoming aware that we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, and really acknowledging that, can open up the possibility for us to choose self-care. Without this awareness of how we are really feeling, there is the tendency for teachers to try to overcome stress and overwhelm by simply working harder and faster. And teachers typically work hard and fast already!"

How Teachers Can Share Mindfulness with Their Students
Bobbi Allan: "Teachers cannot expect their students to practice mindfulness unless they are practicing and modelling it themselves. This doesn’t mean teachers have to become ‘mindfulness experts’ before they can introduce it to their students. Mindfulness is a great skill for teachers to learn alongside of the students, provided the teacher is honest that that is what they are doing." 

The Importance of Mindful Teachers
Didde and Nikolaj Flor Rotne: "Pupils are more likely to do what we as adults DO rather than what we SAY. We need teachers who practice mindfulness in order to become strong role models."

Mindful Moments, in the Classroom and Beyond
Barbara Larrivee: "61 percent of educators find work “always” or “often” stressful, twice the rate of otherworkers... Teachers are largely at a loss about how to deal with their stress.... They need to find ways to get the vital peer support they need, navigate the spectrum of emotions teaching elicits, maintain work-life balance, and cultivate mindfulness and self-compassion."

Mindfulness, SEL, and Teacher Self Care
Dr. Season Mussey: "Self-care is critical for our wellness and longevity in careers as educators. As we serve others, constantly giving of ourselves, we must find ways to refresh and renew."

Teaching Mindfulness with Integrity
Dr. Amy Saltzman: "I feel the ideal situation is for teachers to receive mindfulness in their pre-service training to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue, enhance their overall well-being, and prepare them to share mindfulness with their students throughout the school day and school year."

Wellness Tips for Stressed-Out Teachers
Debra Mazda: "I pray for help keeping my body pure and clean. While I also have days when I’m stressed out, I always try to stay mindful of what I’m eating and what it’s doing to my body. The Bible tells us that our bodies are temples of God. We have to respect them and not abuse them and not fill them with food. I keep mindful of that every day."

Mindfulness for Kids

Kid-Friendly Yoga
photo courtesy Sara Weis

The Best Children's Books About Mindfulness
Meena Srinivasan: "Books that explain what mindfulness means are great when introducing the concept to young people... It’s also important to help children see how characters in other books use mindfulness... or how the characters are in need of mindfulness."

Best Practices in Teaching Mindfulness to Children
Dr. Christopher Willard: "Because we can bring mindfulness to everything we do -- we want to think about what it is that these kids are already doing."

Calming Young Minds
Sherri Snyder: "My goal is to provide a safe environment where young women can 'Be themselves,' try out yoga or express themselves through art and not feel worried about being criticized. We also talk about the concepts of perfectionism, competition, bullying, and social media. And we talk about how it has impacted them personally, and how they can choose to express themselves in a more positive, uplifting way. This is incredibly empowering."

How Growth Mindset Complements Mindfulness

Mary Cay Ricci: "It is always good to challenge kids IF they have been given the tools they need to approach the challenge and embrace the struggle.  I have found that one of the biggest “missing pieces” when teaching about growth mindset and encouraging kids to embrace difficult tasks, is to help students develop a menu of go-to strategies that they can use when they are stuck or are struggling. "

Robyn Hussa Farrell: "There are different categories of risks that come with this work. For example, there may be risk of causing harm... [or] turning off an individual to mindfulness work... A mindfulness teacher should be trained in the various mental health disorders, as well as their root causes and treatment strategies. This is particularly important for working in schools."

How to Tame a 'Want Monster'
Chelo Manchego: "I moved to Los Angeles from El Salvador by myself. I was eighteen years old, and I had all this freedom, and the city was new to me and exciting and wild. If I wanted to eat an entire chocolate cake at three in the morning I could, and I did, many times!... I decided to move to a Buddhist community when I turned twenty to understand myself better and to unplug... I lived there for three years, and meditation and eating healthy changed my life."

How We Can Support Every Student's Gifts and Challenges
Christine Fonseca: "Humans do not fit conveniently into labels and boxes... When we can find ways to stop categorizing students and instead and meet them where they are... [with] empathy and compassion, that is when we can truly connect with, inspire, and support ALL children in whatever way they need."

Mindful Parents, Mindful Children, and Mindful Schools

Dr. Susie Wolbe: "Children need to see their parents partnering with the school and speaking respectfully of the institution and staff. Children will always experience more growth if the child, parents, and school are working as a team toward the same goals."

Multiple Intelligences Lead to Mindfulness
Kathleen Hackett: "We are all born with multiple intelligences, and we use them to help us be aware of the present moment. We use... our Naturalist intelligence to be cognizant of the natural world around us... our Intrapersonal intelligence to know our inner self... our Visual Spatial-Visual intelligence to see the visual images surrounding us..."

New Coalition Supports Mindfulness in Schools
Tracy Heilers: "Parents, teachers, and kids ALL need the benefits of mindfulness to thrive so it makes sense to learn and practice together. Beyond personal benefits, it bonds those practicing together in a special way, especially when you take the time after practicing to reflect together about your experience." 

Teaching Mindfulness, in English and Irish
Ann Caulfield and Derval Dunford: "While the majority of schools in Ireland teach through English there are a number of schools that teach through Irish. Those schools have limited resources for the classroom, and teachers sought some mindfulness resources to support those children and to support the continuous promotion of the Irish language... Many national organizations support the work."

Mindfulness for Young Children

Mindful Listening
photo courtesy Dr. Renee Metty

Best Practices in Teaching Yoga and Mindfulness to Young Children
Kelli Love: "Many media messages... convey that yoga is something that sculpts our body and not our sense of well-being... There is enough pressure and anxiety in the modern school culture as it is. I’m trying to help my students move away from unnecessary comparison to their peers, and more importantly I’m trying to get them to experience joy in their own bodies."

Breathing Buddies and Vibratones: Mindfulness for Young Children

Renee Metty: "Young children are typically in the moment, but they are not always aware that they are in the moment. A favorite activity of mine is to let your child/ren take the lead and follow them around. When they become interested in something, let them explore and then ask them what they noticed and begin giving them the language to describe it."

Children's Author Emphasizes Mindfulness and Self-Acceptance
Sarah Kraftchuk: "The practice of self-acceptance allows us to embrace our whole being and what makes us unique... It's important to embrace each moment with an open mind and nurture an environment where students feel safe to explore their learning... [and where] teachers become aware of and connect with their students' diverse and changing needs."

Children's Author Teaches Yoga, Mindfulness, and Compassion
Susan Verde: "The practices of mindfulness and yoga are really ones that we embody, not just engage in at a distance. They are ways of being in the world. When I work with kids doing yoga and mindfulness they become the practice. When we are in tree pose they are trees…exploring how it feels in their minds and bodies." 

Children's Book Helps Kids Cope with and Grow from Failure
Tamara Levitt: "There is so much emphasis on achievement that when children fail it leads to disappointment, frustration and shame. And those aren’t motivators to keep trying. Failing often leads to quitting and lack of self-worth... When a child is distraught about what they can’t do, remind them of all the wonderful things they CAN do and have LEARNED to do, and the wonderful qualities that make them who they ARE."

Children's Stories for Social Emotional Learning
Noah Teitelbaum: "It’s easy to forget to be grateful for the good things that happen during a day marred by one or two tough moments. It’s just as easy to avoid acknowledging the tough parts of a day. The way our program sees it, mindfulness and social-emotional learning is not going to make tough days go away. We want to develop the ability to face them honestly and squarely and to have the skills to move on in a healthy manner."

Conscious Stories Teach Mindfulness and Connection
Andrew Newman: "We don’t want to ignore [negative thoughts] or magic them away, but we do want to offer another, more positive perspective. When parents or carers (caregivers) connect and show love at bedtime they counteract the difficult moments of the day, sending the kids to sleep feeling safe, loved and like they matter.  Then they can wake into natural confidence and self-esteem."

Mindfulness and Self-Compassion for Children and Healers
Dr. Heather Krantz: "The key is to not overwhelm young kids with too much information.  Having a visual tool to aid understanding is very helpful when explaining something that can be conceptually abstract even for adults.  I blow soap bubbles to show that thoughts and feelings are like bubbles—they float in and out and pop—and new ones come along.  Young children don’t necessarily understand that everyone has thoughts and feelings in their minds, so I really try to normalize that this is how human minds work."

Mindfulness Tips from a First Grade Teacher and Children's Author
Kathy Marvel: "Using our mind to help focus our body is an essential skill I strive to teach my kids each and every day in whatever they are doing. The breathing techniques in And She Said Breathe are the same ones that I teach throughout the year and we use daily for different purposes – whether that is to calm down, relax, gain energy, or just plain release some energy."

A New Series of Mindfulness Books for Kids
Tracy Bryan: "There seem to be a lot of valuable guides for parents and teachers about how to teach and inspire kids about mindfulness.  However, there aren't many books or materials for kids to read themselves, which is why I decided to write for this audience.  I also wanted to reflect the diversity and complexity of real families so that children can relate to what they see in the books." 

Mindfulness for Adolescents

Relational Mindfulness
photo courtesy Dr. Sam Himelstein

Best Practices in Teaching Yoga to Teens
Abby Wills: "Adolescence is a distinct period of development, marked by significant neurobiological changes that effect every aspect of a person’s life including social interaction, self-perception and world view. In yoga and mindful practice sessions, we honor the transformation teens are experiencing." 

Helping Teens Find Mindfulness and Meaning
interview with Amy Edelstein of the Inner Strength Foundation, on trauma-informed, culturally-responsive mindfulness teaching, integrated with academic content.

How Mindfulness Helps Teens and the Adults Who Care about Them
Dr. Sam Himelstein: "Trying to force youth to change or stop engaging in a behavior by punitive means simply doesn’t work. This is why forming an authentic relationship... is so important... When teens have a real relationship with you, when they feel you care, when you have authentic trust, they’re more likely to listen to you."

Mindfulness for Teachers and Teens
Heidi Bornstein: "Adults make their own choice to take an MBSR workshop, usually based on stress-related issues. Adolescents are often given mindfulness training as part of a school curriculum, so it’s important to engage them in the program by helping them see the personal relevance of mindfulness and its benefits."

Restorative, not Punitive, Responses to Youthful Wrongdoing 
Dr. Fania Davis: "Harmed people go on to harm other people... When the urge to respond to harm with more harm arises, mindfulness helps to distance oneself from those reactions and provide the space to reflect on a healthier response. This is particularly important for those of us who work with chronically traumatized students."

Teaching For-Credit Mindfulness Classes
Caverly Morgan: "Incidents don’t come out of nowhere... Usually it’s connected to extremely negative self-talk... As a first step, we have to know how to hear and recognize that self-talk in order to direct our attention towards compassion and equanimity." 

Teaching Mindfulness Across Cultures

Ronit Jinich: "Teenagers... have so many questions. What is this culture offering me and do I want to take it or not? Teens are hungry for teachers willing to help them explore these questions from a place of honesty.  Working with teens is a privilege if we’re willing to meet them where they’re at, listen deeply, and stay in the conversation with them all the way."

Teaching Mindfulness to At-Risk Youth

Bart van Melik: "You have to teach from the inside out, from the depths of your own experience. Most of the teaching can happen through sincerely modeling the practice, rather than through using a particular activity or technique. If the teacher is present, that’s the key to everything."

Teaching Yoga and Mindfulness to Students Affected by Trauma and Violence
Danielle Ancin: "Trauma is widespread... and is likely present in any classroom or school where you teach.  It's important to keep in mind that while some students cope with trauma in ways that look like acting out, others internalize traumatic symptoms.  It's not simple or clear-cut!  Mindfulness, inquiry, and compassion are key."

Mindfulness in the Arts and Humanities

Mindfulness 'Mandalynth'
image courtesy Erin Rado

Paige Bell and Adrien Palmer ('Narwhals and Waterfalls') discuss the benefits of music education for children from infancy through elementary school. They also share their own self-care strategies as busy teachers and performers.

Using Mindful Questioning to Enhance Academic Learning
Ira Rabois: I can understand the concern for time in a classroom. Every moment is precious. It must be kept in mind, however, that anything that helps students to learn more fluidly and easily is not a waste but an expansion of time... mindfulness [can be used] with visualization, inquiry, imagination, and other practices to directly and effectively teach required material.

Mindfulness, Creativity, and the Five Senses
Sarah Lessire: "The way I practice mindfulness helps me with my ability to listen, which is to me the most important part of performing and teaching. If I’m not able to feel my own feelings and observe my own inner chatter, then I can’t possibly listen and feel for the audiences’ subtle reactions, or to my students’ unspoken needs when I’m teaching."

Mindfulness for the Middle Grades
Elizabeth McAvoy: "This year I am teaching art, a subject which naturally lends itself to being mindful. I started out by having each of my classes meditate in silence for a minute, but after a couple of weeks I realized that the very act of creating art put most of the students into a meditative, focused state."

Mindful Meditation Through Celtic-Inspired Art
California-based artist Erin Rado is the creator of Celtic Art Therapy using Mandalynths, mandalas that are traced like labyrinths as a form of mindful meditation. Mandalynths have been shown to help manage stress, anxiety, panic, PTSD, ADD, ADHD and autism.

Teaching English, Yoga, and Mindfulness in Indonesia
Alicia Brill: "Indonesian students are so used to sitting in their desks most of the time, rarely moving around, and in hot classrooms. Asking them to leave their seats and be active was a great way to exercise, reenergize their brains, and still practice their language skills in the process... They seemed sponge-like in their desire to learn about yoga and Gumby-like in their ability to try unfamiliar poses!"

Mindfulness in Theater

Hannah Todd: "Mindfulness is key in theater... If any part of you is closed off, you will not get to the deepest truth of the story."
Renana Fox: "I try to be conscious of the behavior of others in stressful situations and how they react. It forces me to consider my own reactions."