If we remember to use it, mindfulness can help us deal with difficult situations- from ordinary every day difficulties like losing your cell phone, to more extreme difficulties like failing a class, breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, having a friend go jail, or maybe even going to jail yourself, getting pregnant, or grieving a death in your family or community.
Mindfulness is much more than just watching the breath. For me, part of the power and beauty of mindfulness is that using it helps me when things are most difficult.
PEACE is an acronym for a practice that can be used in any difficult situation. Perhaps you can begin by practicing with small daily irritations. If you are dealing with more extreme circumstances you may need to repeat the practice many times a day, and you may also want to get additional help from a friend, a parent, a counselor, or a doctor.
The practice goes like this.
P- P is for pause. When you realize that things are difficult, pause.
E- E is for exhale. When you exhale you may want to let out a sigh, or a groan, or even weep. And after you exhale you want to?… Inhale. Just keep breathing….
A- A is for acknowledge, accept, allow. As you continue to breathe acknowledge the situation as it is. Your backpack with all your stuff is gone, your parents are getting divorced, your best friend is now dating the person who just became your ex. Acknowledging a situation doesn’t mean you are happy about it. It just means that you recognize the situation is as it is, whether you like it or not.
Accept- accept the situation, and your reaction to it. You are furious, devastated, heartbroken, jealous, or E all of the above.
Allow your experience—do you best to rest in the Still Quiet Place and watch the thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. Notice when you are tempted to suppress your experience by pretending you are fine, or to create additional drama by rehashing things in your head or with friends. And allow this to (smile). See if you can discover a middle way- of having your thoughts and feelings, without your thoughts and feelings having you, and making you act in ways you may regret.
C is for choose. When you are ready, and this may take a few moments, days, weeks or even months depending on the situation, choose how you will respond. At its best responding involves some additional Cs.
Clarity: being clear about what you want, what your limits are, what you are responsible for.
Courage: the courage to speak your truth, and to hear the truth of others. Compassion: compassion for yourself, for others, and for how incredibly difficult it sometimes is to be a human being.
Comedy: Actually I prefer the word “humor” but it doesn’t start with C. It is amazing what a sense of humor, and a willingness to not take ourselves too seriously can do.
E is for engage. After you have paused, exhaled, allowed, and chosen your response, you are ready to engage with people, the situation, with life.
Remember, if it is possible, practice with small upsets first, and for extreme circumstances you may have to repeat this process over and over, and receive additional support. And the more you practice, the more PEACE you will have.
An audio version of this practice is available on itunes; search Still Quiet Place: Mindfulness for Teens.
Copyright. All rights reserved Amy Saltzman 2010
This paper reviews research and curricula pertaining to the integration of mindfulness training into K-12 education, both indirectly by training teachers and through direct teaching of students. Click here IMEK-12 ARTICLE IN JOURNAL MINDFULNESS (ONLINE VERSION)-1
Teaching mindfulness to kids and teens has been described by Amy Saltzman M.D. as “the truest form of preventive medicine I know.” Click here to read the full article
Today Amy talks to us about what the still quiet place is for children and teenagers, the impact of her research with children, and a little practice and advice to help us parents, caregivers and teachers along the way. Click here to read the full interview.
Dr Amy Saltzman knows the benefits of accessing the “Still Quiet Place” deep inside each individual and works tirelessly to bring those benefits to children, teens and parents.
Founder of the program Still Quiet Place, Amy strives to teach mindfulness skills to youth (Pre-K to college) so that they can reap the rewards and live a engaged, full, calm and rewarding life. Join us for easy to implement techniques which are proven to develop focus, increase attention, decrease anxiety and allow you and your children to interact with compassion with yourself and others. Tap into your “Still Quiet Place” within. Click Here to Listen
This chapter provides an overview of an MBSR curriculum designed for children in grades 4-6 and their parents, and reports preliminary research findings based on the implementation of this curriculum. The data indicate that mindfulness training is feasible for children and that such training enhances attention, decreases anxiety, and improves self-regulation, social competence and, perhaps most importantly, children’s overall well-being. Complete Chapter
Reprinted with permission by New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Acceptance & Mindfulness Treatments for Children & Adolescents, Laurie Greco Ph.D.
When you’re raising a family or teaching students it’s often hard to be aware of what you’re feeling, experiencing, and thinking. The practice of mindfulness, or paying attention with kindness and curiosity before choosing your behavior, can decrease stress and burnout and increase empathy and effective communication. Tune in as we discuss how adults and children can benefit from learning mindful practices for everyday life.
• Amy Saltzman, MD, is a holistic physician, mindfulness coach, and scientist, and founder of The Still Quiet Place.
DOWNLOAD Entire Program (54:10 mp3 49.6 MB)
My friend and student, 9 year old, Nick, was recently featured in an article in Scholastic Parent and Child magazine. Here is what Nick has to say about Mindfulness.
To use mindfulness is a great privilege. It makes you feel good, relaxed and happy. You cannot enjoy life without it. Mindfulness is a quiet place.All you have to do to get there is concentrate on your breathing. You can use mindfulness everywhere. When you are in arguments, if you are feeling unhappy or if you are in a tough situation you don’t want to be in. I’ve even used it when I find myself frustrated while playing video games or other times when I become overwhelmed.
Simply sit down, lie down or even stand up and just start breathing and listen and feel your breaths – focus on slow and deep breaths. Soon your worries and frustrations will not seem so big. Before you know it you will feel better. Afterward, I sometimes forget what was making me so upset. I am glad Dr. Amy showed me how to do it. You should give it a try too!
Click the link to read the entire article on Mindfulness for Children in Scholastic Parent and Child magazine
Since the 1980s, educators in California and elsewhere have been urged to help children build self-esteem to make them feel good about themselves and reduce discipline problems. Now, some researchers are saying a better approach is to cultivate self-compassion in children, to help them accept their struggles and guard against self-absorption. Read more
Experts Say, Mindfulness For Children is “No Fad” Either.
The real experts are the children. “Jessica”, a fourth grade student, participated in a Still Quiet Place course, an eight week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course offered at Henry Ford Elementary School. The school serves a low-income population in Redwood City, California. On the last day of class “Jessica” wrote
When I am sad or kind of in a bad mood I take about 10 breaths and I get relaxed. I also forget about my worries. I learned this from Mindfulness. I enjoy coming here because I forget about my troubles and I forget about all the things in my life that is sad. My sadness just fades.
Jessica’s statement, suggests that perhaps Dr. Hoffman’s perception (reported in the article Mindfulness is No Fad, Experts Say, January 8th , 2011) that children may have trouble understanding or embracing Mindfulness is in error. Not only do children and adolescents understand and embrace Mindfulness, recent cutting-edge research indicates they can reap benefits from practicing Mindfulness, similar to those documented in adults.
As Mr. Woolston’s article highlighted, over 30 years of scientific research with adults has shown that Mindfulness decreases stress, depression, anxiety, and hostility, and enhances compassion, empathy and executive function; executive function is a term that describes the related processes of goal-directed behavior, planning, organized search and impulse control. As a pioneer in the emerging field of offering Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction to children and teens please allow me to share the ground-breaking work indicating that Mindfulness for children is “no fad” either.
Mindfulness is simply paying attention to your life, here and now, with kindness and curiosity. This ability to pay attention is a natural, innate human capacity. Children as young as three can learn to attend to the breath,the five senses, thoughts, and emotions. Slightly older children can attend to impulses and actions, and their effects on others and the world.
For the last decade, colleagues and I have been offering age-adapted Mindfulness-based curricula to at risk youth. (See side bar) Unfortunately, research by Soniya Luthar Ph. D. from Columbia Teachers College shows that many of our youth are at risk. Her data indicate that affluent teens have rates of depression, anxiety and illicit drug similar to their low-income peers. Daily headlines remind us that our children are being diagnosed with depression, anxiety, ADHD, eating disorders, cutting, addictions, suicidal tendencies and other self-destructive behaviors at epidemic rates; cruelty, bullying and violence are on the rise. Most, if not all of our children could benefit from learning to focus their attention, to become less reactive, and to be more compassionate with themselves and others. Those of us involved in this emerging field are motivated by a shared commitment to offer children and adolescents life long skills that will enhance their well-being. We are rigorously investigating whether children and adolescents can reap benefits from practicing Mindfulness, similar to those extensively documented in adults.
For the last decade we have been working in clinics and schools to scientifically assess whether Mindfulness training can enhance children’s attention, executive function, learning, compassion, empathy and general well-being. The preliminary data are encouraging; below are summaries of four recent studies that demonstrate the benefits of offering Mindfulness children and adolescents.
In a randomized controlled trial conducted by Maria Napoli, Ph.D., first, second, and third graders participated in a bi-weekly, 12-session integrative program of Mindfulness and relaxation. The students showed significant increases in attention and social skills, and decreases in test anxiety and ADHD behaviors.
Lisa Flook, Ph.D. and her colleagues at the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at UCLA studied second and third graders who did Mindfulness Awareness Practices for 30 minutes twice a week for 8 weeks. Children who began the study with poor executive function had gains in behavioral regulation, meta-cognition, and overall global executive control. These results indicate training in Mindfulness benefits children with executive function difficulties (the children most likely to have difficulties and cause disruptions in the classroom) .
In a study with 4th-7th graders and their parents, that I conducted in collaboration with the Department of Psychology at Stanford, the children participated in 75 minutes of Mindfulness training for 8 consecutive weeks. At the conclusion of the study the children demonstrated increased ability to orient their attention, as measured by an objective computerized Attention Network Task, and decreased anxiety. In written narrative the children also reported decreased emotional reactivity, and increased impulse control.
In research on teaching Mindfulness to adolescents conducted by Gina Biegel, MA, MFT, the teens reported reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression and somatic (physical) distress, and increased self-esteem and sleep quality. Independent clinicians documented a higher percentage of diagnostic improvement in the Mindfulness group (vs. the control group). In layperson’s terms, this means that adolescents who were initially diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety were no longer depressed or anxious.
While these studies are preliminary, they reinforce what “Jessica”, in 4th grade, already knows—Mindfulness for Children is “No Passing Fad”. In closing I’ll defer to another expert, a fifth grade girl from Menlo Park, California.
Mindfulness is a great class because you can chill out, and relax. It will cool you down and make you less stressed. You should try it if you are mad or sad or just want to feel better. That’s what I do. Try it!
 Luthar, S., The Culture of Affluence; the Psychological Costs of Material Wealth, Child Development, 2003; 74 (6), 1581-1593.
 Napoli, M. ”Mindfulness Training for Elementary School Students: The Attention Academy” Journal of Applied School Psychology (2005) Vol. 21(1)
 Flook, L. “Effects of Mindful Awareness Practices on Executive Functions in Elementary School Children” Journal of Applied School Psychology (2010) 26: 1, 70 -95
 Saltzman, A., (2008) “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for School-Age Children, 139-162. In L. Grecco, Acceptance and Mindfulness Treatments for Children and Adolescents: A Practitioner’ Guide, Oakland, New Harbinger, 2008,
 Biegel, G. “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for the Treatment of Adolescent
Psychiatric Outpatients: A Randomized Clinical Trial” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (2009) Vol. 77, No. 5: 855–866