MINDFULNESS TOOLS FOR TEENS
Held quarterly at a cost of $225, the course is divided into two groups: eighth through 10th grade, and 11th and 12th grades. All sessions are held at 1200 E. Ridgewood Ave. in Ridgewood. For more information about start dates, or to register, call Kathy Newberg at (201) 291-6090. in a car in a traffic jam when you have to get someplace. You notice your hands are gripping the steering wheel – ‘I’m going to be late!’ – but you can notice what is happening and decide to loosen the grip. You realize you have a choice – there’s nothing I can do about this [traffic jam].”
She describes it as the “experiential” way of learning – through reflection on doing – rather than the more traditional cognitive learning offered in schools, adding that the former is particularly important for adolescents, who tend to react more impulsively.
The following steps – Attention, Tenderness and Habits – develop an understanding of stress as a physiological response to feelings of anxiety, instill a compassion and kindness in oneself when dealing with stressful situations and, ultimately, incorporate self-nurturing habits to help teens combat such situations.
Sandweiss says a variety of strategies are utilized in class to accomplish the objectives. Among them are activities that incorporate movement, drama and writing, and one-on-one or group exercises, including mindful listening, during which students work in pairs and simply listen to each other, rather than give advice or “fix” the problem. The purpose, Sandweiss says, is for students to appreciate the power of listening and begin to feel like they are not alone.
“Our rule,” Sandweiss says, “is that people don’t have to share anything they don’t want to, but there’s a lot of sharing anyway. People want to share, especially in groups of two.”
She adds that students will leave the course having achieved the final step – Empowerment – with tools necessary to handle arguments with friends and parents, repetitive negative thoughts and worries, difficult moods, physical problems and stress associated with their education.
Sandweiss cites a quotation from author and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, who once wrote, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose a response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
That “space,” Sandweiss says, is the terrain for mindfulness.
“We’re trying to bring a level of awareness of that space between stimulus and response,” she says. “Students learn to act and behave in a wiser and more productive way.”