Saturday, September 26, 2020

A Mindful Life for High School Students

3 years ago, I offered my first and only meditation and mindfulness workshop for teenagers. While I had a lot to learn from that experience and would approach it differently now, there are two moments that stand out when I revisit it. 

The first was a loving-kindness exercise where I asked the students to write down three loving-kindness phrases for themselves based on what they listed as stressors in their lives. For example: 

May I have peace of mind

May I feel more ease in my days

May I be free of worry.

I then asked them partner up and do a meditation where they exchange what they wrote and offer the phrases to their partner. When we regrouped what was expressed was how nice it was to wish their partner something they needed. It was a surprising and beautiful moment and the feeling was palpable. 

At the end of the workshop, when I asked what they wanted to see more of in their world of friends, family, society they all had very meaningful shares. I am reminded why I want to offer this again, but in a different format. For this reason, I am calling on all high school aged students who want to learn how to manage their stress and connect more deeply with other students in a safe space. 

Understandably, you might be thinking students already have too much time looking at a screen in the day, especially if their schooling is virtual, but this will be a different experience. It will be a place where they can:

  • Feel grounded in the present moment through meditation and mindfulness practices
  • Let go of the pressure to perform and let go of others' expectations
  • Have a place where they can be themselves, share meaningfully, and interact with other teenagers 
  • Train their minds to lean toward what is well/positive and not get lost in worry and fear
  • Gain self-awareness around their feelings and what's going on inside

Stress is high for students today. Let’s create a safe, peaceful place for teenagers in the midst of some challenging years.

Join me for A MINDFUL LIFE FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS starting October 8th. This four-week Zoom group will be a safe place for high school students to gain tools to manage stress and feel supported. Please share this with your high school student. They might want to gather a friend or two, or come alone. Either way, they will have a chance to make new friends. 


P.S. Heads up to parents! Encouragement may be needed, but pushing a student to do it won't help them. This works best if a student wants to help themselves or wants greater connection with others.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Forget Me Not

Why is it so easy to forget? We watch the news and forget. Our child says or does something we don’t agree with and we forget. We mess something up and we forget. Whenever fear takes over, we forget. A great deal of of what any contemplative practice does is to help people to remember. We already know; we already have the wisdom we need. We simply lose it temporarily. It’s true of all of us. We are of the nature to forget and we need tools to remember to bring us back. And the coming back almost always means getting out of fear.

So, what do we need to remember and to get out of fear? 

  • We can remember that we can slow down and in the slowing down find insight. 
  • We can remember that we can allow and accept what is presenting itself and take the next right action once we stop resisting it. Stopping resisting needs to happen first. 
  • We can remember that we are all connected. What seems separate from us, isn't. 
  • We can remember that love, compassion, generosity, and kindness trump everything. 
  • We can remember that if we follow a fear down its rabbit hole, what we find is that it’s ok, even at the bottom - that even in our worst case scenario, it's just an experience. We are still connected because we are made up of everything that is not us and we are part of everything else. We can still breathe, even there at the bottom, knowing it, too, is temporary.

What fear, in you, needs reminding that what is here has come about for many reasons, many of which we cannot possibly fathom, and that we needto be here. We may not know why yet, but the conditions are like this right now. How do you want to meet it? If you slow down, what do you know about love, compassion and kindness that will help you navigate these waters? Can you breathe with this fear and know it is not all of you. You are much bigger, more complex than any fear. Remind yourself who you really are. We all forget and that's ok because we will remember again.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Acknowledging Where We Have Been

I was walking through the grocery store this week and had one of those moments of awe, looking at everyone with masks on doing their shopping, at how we have adjusted to this way of living for now. It is amazing what we have come through and yet, it is so easy to not see what we have managed.

Often in my A Mindful Life groups and workshops I will have us do an exercise that asks us to reflect on what has already gone on in a day/week/season/year. These exercises seem like the antithesis of mindfulness meditation which asks us to stay in the present moment. But, there’s a purpose to these specific tasks of reflection - it’s not just ruminating or rehashing. We can so easily roll through our accomplishments, events, small and major moments, and move onto the next without pausing to realize - wow, I actually got tenure, or I opened a business, or I survived a critical moment, or I moved somewhere and started a new path, or I received all that goodness! The very thing we were moving toward arrives and when we get there, out of fear of what’s next, we often don’t stop long enough to savor it. The problem with this is that we never feel full because we haven’t taken in what we have done, what we have received, where we have landed, what goodness has already arrived. 

The same is true not just of what we have done and what we have received, but also of our resilience. Resilience is only useful when we recognize that we have been resilient. And we weren’t just resilient once, but many times. In fact, every day we are resilient. But we need to acknowledge where we have been to be able to see how we have grown. 

I invite us all, right now, to take such a moment. Think back to March when this pandemic hit and lockdown took hold. Think of the fear, the unknown, the uncertainty we all faced. We listened to the news of death tolls rising. We watched our kids struggle with roughly orchestrated online schooling and we struggled with them in our homes. We didn’t get haircuts or go to the dentist; our businesses closed (temporarily or permanently); we  struggled to figure out the best way to get groceries; we saw empty shelves of toilet paper and soap. We went on unemployment, applied for PPP loans, and we figured out how to work just as efficiently online. We did amazing things. We got creative and resourceful; we supported others; we meditated more; we walked more and dogs were - oh so happy! We found new ways. And though it is not over yet, we could do the kind and generous thing - we could, in this moment, stop and take in how resilient we have been. And maybe, with a bow of gratitude, we can acknowledge that, “yes, we pulled through.” We are no longer in the same place. Everything changes. 

There are more trials to come, but for right now, why not take a moment, even just a few minutes to rest, truly rest, in your own strength, power, and resilience. Look at what you have done. I invite you to make a list of all that you went through since March. All that you made possible since then, all the obstacles overcome, and all the connections, joys, possibilities you discovered. This is no small thing. You have grown. Like the flower growing through the concrete. If you are an artist, you can draw/paint it all out on one big piece of paper.

Now you can use this. The next time you notice a wave of anxiety about the future, you might call up this resilience and realize there is more in you. You’re not just resilient, but you have grown and are stronger from this past wave. You have it inside you to meet whatever challenge comes next.


P.S. This is the kind of work we do regularly in A Mindful Life. Click the link to find out more.