Expert Interviews

Perspectives on Mindfulness for Adults, Teaching Kids, Teaching Younger Children, Teaching Adolescents, The Arts and Humanities, and STEM.

NEW 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.

NEW 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."

Perspectives on Mindfulness for Adults

photo courtesy Dr. Susie Wolbe

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."

The Best Mindfulness and Meditation Apps and Tools
Giovanni Dienstmann: "The purpose of mindfulness apps is having reminders throughout the day... This makes a big difference. For many, it may be the missing link between a formal practice and daily life.... [but] I think everyone should limit the use of social media, email and notifications. Otherwise we easily slip into a reactive mode of living, where we are constantly being distracted."

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 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, 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 Increases Creativity, Spirituality, and Connection
Brandi Lust: "Limiting self-talk is automatic for many of us. Feeling as if there is a right way to do things, comparing with others, and worrying about how we might be judged are all obstacles to our creativity. Mindfulness is a way to distance ourselves enough from these self-limiting beliefs to engage and share safely what is within."

Mindfulness Increases Harmony, in More Ways than One
Kimberly Hoffman: " The most common area of tension stems from miscommunication... The ability to be present and listen without judgment allows us to be receptive to the needs and priorities of everyone involved."

Perspectives on Teaching Kids

photo courtesy Books for Africa

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."

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."

Ending the 'Book Famine' in Africa
Rachel Brady: "It’s remarkable to deliver books to students who have never before held a book... I’ve been witness to many amazing African teachers who work so hard to create meaningful and quality learning environments for their students."

Robyn Hussa Farrell: "Prior to teaching yoga or mindfulness to anyone, an individual should have training to understand exactly how to lead the array of techniques. 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 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 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."

Mindfulness for Every Student

Meghan Dutton: "As a special education teacher, I’ve seen how difficulty in managing anxiety and stress affects the kids’ learning... Students on the autism spectrum have a particularly tough time in these areas. When the kids practice mindfulness, there’s a settling in. They’re better able to focus in class."

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..."

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."

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."

Transgender Children

"My experience as the parent of a transgender child is opening my eyes to the special health, employment and schooling challenges that people face based on their gender identity and sexuality."

Wellness and Weight-Loss Tips for Stressed-Out Teachers

Debra Mazda: "Stress is powerful and if not managed will affect every area of your life... You have to be mindful of your own body and your own needs. If you’re working with kids all day and then maybe going home to kids at night, you have to figure out a way to get some time for yourself."

Perspectives on Teaching Younger Children

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 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."

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." 

Uncommon Schools
Katie Yezzi: "Be selective about [kids'] access to technology. Yes, they need basic computing skills, but they tend to pick them up incredibly fast... Read with your kids. Read, read, read, read, read. It’s the best gift that you can give them."

Perspectives on Teaching Adolescents

photo courtesy Mindfulness Without Borders

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."

Transgender and Gender Fluid Youth

"To parents and teachers, I’d emphasize that being transgender or gender fluid is not a lifestyle choice. This is an integral part of a person’s identity. Also, don’t confuse gender identity with sexual orientation. A person’s gender identity is separate from his/her orientation."

Perspectives on the Arts & Humanities

photo courtesy Jennifer Uhler

English Language Teaching in Central Asia
Jennifer Uhler: "The region is full of gorgeous landscapes and teachers and learners eager to know English... If you go into working in Central Asia with an adventurous spirit and a good heart, you will not be disappointed."

Helping Kids Connect with Shakespeare

Jessica Hansen: "The stories are classic for a reason: love, greed, leadership, underdogs. Kids understand those things: they fight those battles in the hallways of schools every day."

Mindful Teaching of Native American History and Life
Maggie Dunne: "At a recent presentation I asked if anyone could define an Indian Reservation, and the response was ”What daddy and mommy do when they reserve a table at an Indian restaurant” ... We learn that there are 50 states in elementary school, but we never hear about the 566 indigenous tribes that still exist."

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."

Teaching English in Brazil

"There is a blending of many cultures, people, and beliefs in Brazil, similar to what you would find in the US... I am working with mostly Korean students, whose parents have moved here to work at a Korean company. "

Teaching English in Turkey

William Little: "To me, 'mindful teaching' sits at the intersection of sound pedagogy and self awareness. Try to reflect and see if what you’re doing is effective and useful for the students, not just from an academic point of view, but also in their lives. "

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!"

Women Writers at the Time of Shakespeare 
Dr. Margaret Hannay: "No early modern women were included in any of my classes from elementary school through graduate school... Women writers now appear in every popular literary anthology, and they are included in almost every English course."

Perspectives on STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering & Math)

photo courtesy Rachel Levy

Celebrating the Ordinary Women of STEM
Dr. Rachel Levy: "I think it's important for girls to know that it's OK to fail, especially if they're working hard. That may sound strange, but in order to do STEM, you have to be willing to try and fail and try again. It takes a lot of perseverance and sometimes stabbing in the dark and being willing to play in the unknown."

Engaging Girls in STEM
Liz Marley: "Women have made major advancements in these fields, but don’t necessarily get fair credit... But don’t highlight them as great women; point to them as great people."

Getting Kids Interested in Engineering and Computer Science
Dr. David Hannay: "There's a great need for more well-trained engineers and computer scientists in this country, so I'd encourage teachers to open students' eyes to the many career possibilities... To me, mindfulness means being aware of what the needs are in the community and how I can use my skills to help."

Reproductive Health Services and Education in Africa
Heidi Ricks: "I gathered supplies in the U.S., and I researched various educational tools and methods to bring along... I discovered that bringing in western supplies and attitudes isn’t helpful if the people we are supposedly serving can’t maintain the project after we leave."

Sanitation, Agriculture, and Sustainable Development in Haiti
Leah Page: "Over 2.5 billion people around the world lack... sanitation and the current sanitation technologies that we have are too costly and too water dependent... We can... meet people’s needs and demands while also improving public health."

Work of the Heart, for the Heart, and for the People of Haiti
Baudeler Magloire: "I encourage everyone to come to Haiti, but please do not bring aid and do not bring humanitarian gifts... Instead bring... new technologies or ideas that can help us create long-term change. "

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