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Everyday Mindfulness for Youth and Teens is a camp-like experience which introduces mindful living into the everyday life of youth and teens. The program has been developed by Kate and Aviva after years of teaching mindfulness to young people in workshops and as part of their collective experience of decades of offering mindfulness activities in the public-school setting.

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

The program incorporates the principles of mindfulness with an emphasis on joy and awe as the students experience the world around them with a new and heightened awareness of the present moment. The day is filled with mini meditations focused on breath awareness with emphasis on engaging sensory awareness both internally and in the surrounding environment. Students learn a new level of recognizing their thoughts and feelings with the framework of  self-understanding. Both Kate and Aviva are keenly aware of the importance of social connection and fun for students of all ages, incorporating ice breakers and other games to enhance group rapport. Students have the opportunity for small group interactions, getting to share their thoughts and experiences in a safe, supportive environment. Whenever possible, connection to nature is woven into the daily activities.

Research in mindfulness indicates that mindfulness may help students improve focus, enhance self-confidence, and provide a basis for developing positive coping and time-management skills.

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.

What are the program goals?

  • To provide universal, developmentally appropriate mindfulness instruction that fosters mental health and wellness opening to a sense of joy and wonder.
  • To enhance emotion awareness and emotion management skills and to foster wholesome emotional balance by becoming present moment focused.
  • To strengthen attention with short, guided exercises.
  • To expand the repertoire of skills for stress management with self- compassionate awareness of the inner landscape.
  • To help students integrate mindfulness into everyday life with a sense of social connectedness rooted into a sense of well -being and safety.

PROGRAM ACTIVITIES INCLUDE:

  • Opening art activity
  • Introduction to program and overview of day Overview of how brain functioning, and autonomic nervous system affect our daily lives.
  • Setting an intention
  • Nature walks or indoor movement
  • Gratitude activities
  • Mindfulness of thoughts and feelings
  • Making of beaded bracelet
  • Note taking of sensory awareness and observations.
  • Group games

MEDITATIONS INCLUDE:

  • Breath Meditation
  • Body scans
  • Sound mediation
  • Heart and gratitude meditation
  • Gratitude activities
  • Mindfulness of thoughts and feelings

Kate Murphy, MA, NBCT 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.

Aviva Scully, MSW, LCSW, MSPH has been practicing mindfulness meditation for over thirty years. She has taught mindfulness meditation to adolescents in the school setting and through the Program on Integrative Medicine. Aviva is passionate about helping young people connect with their inner strength and well-being and connect with each other. Aviva is a school social worker and licensed clinical social worker and has worked with middle school students for over fifteen years. She is trained in facilitating community building and restorative circles. She has participated in mindful self-compassion, mindfulness-based stress reduction and focusing workshops. (She is a lifelong animal lover and believes strongly in the healing power of the human and animal bond).