MIND­FUL­NESS TOOLS FOR TEENS

201 Health - - Adolescent Health -

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.”

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