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Lions Roar : July 2011
51 SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2011 of life. They reduced stress and gave the teens strength from within to solve their prob- lems, which often led to a shift away from “poor me” or judgmental thinking. I’ve now been systematically teaching these techniques for more than seven years. People often ask me how to introduce teens to mindfulness. One of the best ways to answer that question is to illustrate it through a story from my own life, such as my snorkeling adventure. I find that mixing stories with real-life examples from the world of teens—along with an appropriate amount of self-disclosure—gets me a lot of mileage in connecting with teenagers and trying to help them. Now and Then If we go back to my worry-filled mind as I anticipated going snorkeling, we can see that talking about that experience is just the kind of opening that would help teens relate to a common pattern in their own minds. A great intervention to use with teens is to have them find out how many of their thoughts are actually about what’s going on here and now. They can see that by spending so much time in their mind on things that have already happened or are going to happen, they aren’t living their life right now. How much are they missing in the present? As an exercise, you can have them jot down all the thoughts that come to their mind for a period of three to five minutes. After they’re finished, ask them to mark each thought with a “P” for past, “N” for now, and “F” for future. It’s easy for them to see that most of their thoughts aren’t in the now. The point of this activity is to help them dis- cover that by being mindful they’ll spend less time focusing on past or future thoughts, GINA BIEGEL is the author of The Stress Reduction Work- book for Teens and the CD, Mindfulness for Teens. She is the founder of Stressed Teens, which introduces youth, families, educators, and professionals to the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Teens program. Teenagers “get” mindfulness; they soak it up like sponges and it transforms their lives. GINA BIEGEL on the best ways for parents, teachers, and mentors to introduce teens to the practice. PHOTOBYLEEFREEDMAN