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)
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
Thank you for publishing Record Level of Stress Found in College Freshmen and bringing some much needed attention to this epidemic. Students of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds are suffering; they are being diagnosed with anxiety, depression, insomnia, eating disorders, engaging in cutting, drug use, careless sex, and committing suicide at unprecedented rates. To protect their health and well-being, we routinely offer students driver’s education, drug and alcohol education, and sex education. Given the alarming statistics Why aren’t we offering “stress education” ?
Over 30 years of research with adults has shown that an 8-week course in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction decreases stress, depression, anxiety, and hostility, and enhances stress hardiness, sense of purpose and meaning, compassion, empathy and activity in the left prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain associated with positive emotion).
Recent cutting-edge scientific research is documenting that children as young as first grade can benefit from practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply paying attention, to our life experience, here and now, with kindness and curiously. A standard 8-week mindfulness course (“Stress Ed”) can help students learn to observe the thoughts and feelings that accompany the typical daily stresses of lost cell phones, mid-terms, and romantic break-ups, as well as the more intense thoughts and feelings of clinical depression and anxiety. The emerging data demonstrate that children and adolescents who learn mindfulness have significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and physical distress, and significant increases in attention, social skills, sleep quality, self-esteem, and self-compassion. A study by Kristin Neff Ph.D. demonstrated that increased self-compassion improved student’s ability to cope with perceived academic failure.
If we are truly concerned about student health and well-being, let’s offer them basic skills for coping with stress. “Stress Ed” can easily be incorporated into freshman curricula. As with other health ed courses, a specifically trained instructor can teach these essential life skills in a cost effective manner to groups of students. This format creates a safe place for students to discuss their experiences with a professional, and provides all students with basic skills for dealing with stress. Two additional benefits to this format are that the professional can identify individuals who may need immediate additional support, and the instructor could also be a crucial resource for a student at a vulnerable time in the future.
Stress Ed is can inoculate students against this epidemic.