Learning to Breathe: A Mindfulness Experience for Adolescents (11-14 years old)

What is Learning to BREATHE?

Learning to BREATHE (L2B) is a mindfulness-based curriculum created for classroom or group settings. Mindfulness is the practice of becoming aware of one’s present-moment experience with compassion and openness as a basis for wise action. This curriculum is intended to strengthen attention and emotion regulation, cultivate wholesome emotions like gratitude and compassion, expand the repertoire of stress management skills, and help participants integrate mindfulness into daily life. Each lesson includes age-appropriate discussion, activities, and opportunities to practice mindfulness in a group setting.

Why strengthen emotion regulation skills and cultivate compassion in adolescents?

Any transition period comes with built-in stress because of changes that accompany it. The transition to adolescence presents developmental challenges in physical, social, intellectual and psychological arenas. Adolescents typically experience more intense emotions than they previously experienced as younger children. This is the time of life when the pull to be autonomous from parents and other adults begins to strengthen, and the need to be a part of a social group increases. Life becomes more complex, and more mature coping skills are required to navigate this terrain effectively. In addition, adolescent brains are still under construction, and this is an active period for laying down neural pathways related to emotion management that can shape the course of adulthood. Many major mental illnesses have their onset in adolescence. While the trajectory of these illnesses is still unclear, promoting resilience at this life stage may reduce the risk of problematic outcomes for vulnerable individuals and strengthen the factors that promote mental health in general.

In addition to facilitating skills that help participants ‘surf the waves’ of their emotions with greater ease, L2B also intentionally cultivates wholesome emotions through activities and practice. Healthy self-compassion and compassion for others along with gratitude are practiced throughout the program.


Kate Murphy first studied meditation and yoga with John Orr over 20 years ago. She completed the Duke graduate MBSR course, is a nationally board-certified teacher, and since 2009, a certified yoga instructor. For 10 years, Kate taught stress reduction painting classes at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center. Her work as a middle school counselor continues to inform and deepen her interest in mindfulness for teens.

Making Friends with Yourself: A Mindful Self Compassion for Teens

for High School Teens (14-18 years old)

Making Friends with Yourself: A Mindful Self Compassion for Teens was developed by Karen Bluth.Ph.D, who is a faculty member in the Program on Integrative Medicine in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine, and the author of The Self-Compassion Workbook for Teens .

UNC now offers a mindful self-compassion class for adolescents, ages 14-18. Mindful Self-Compassion brings together the benefits of mindfulness and self-compassion: Mindfulness teaches us to be present with difficult emotions, and self-compassion helps us to respond to these emotions with greater kindness and self-care. Through developmentally appropriate activities and meditations, teens learn specific tools which help them navigate the emotional ups and downs of this life stage with greater ease. A preliminary research study on this program has demonstrated significant decreases in depression, anxiety, perceived stress and negative mood from before to after taking this course.