Teaching approaches for mindfulness with young people

The basic intentions and approaches to mindfulness for the young are the same as for adult mindfulness, as described at the beginning of this chapter. Young people do not, however, enter the classroom as keen trainee contempla- tives and the idea of sitting quietly focusing the mind may seem many miles from their current habits and mindsets in their multi-tasking, distracted worlds. Unlike adults, for whom mindfulness is a voluntary activity, many young people will encounter mindfulness as “conscripts," i.e. as part of their compulsory curriculum, not as something in which they have expressed a particular interest. Programs therefore need to capture their imagination, and developers are experimenting with approaches that demonstrate rich diversity and considerable innovation (Kaiser-Greenland 2009; Meiklejohn et al. 2012). Some programs, such as the Stressed Teens program (Beigal 2009; see Case Study 1), working with older students, use the format of the eight- week MBSR course. Others, such as the UK’s Mindfulness in Schools Project (Mindfulness in Schools 2014; see Case Study 2 later), have at their core the familiar basic practices of mindfulness but they also use fun activities, tangible objects, vivid images, media, and resources, and a pacey and edgy style that appeals to more active learning styles and higher energy levels. Some programs work directly with the active and lively nature of youth to include yoga, tai chi, relaxation, music, the arts, and contact with nature (e.g., Holistic Life Foundation 2014). In comparison with adult mindfulness courses, sessions and practices for the young tend to be briefer, the length of a conventional lesson—or less in the case of younger children—and more structured, with more repetition and with more overt explanations about the purpose of the activity for often skeptical youth.

 
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