MINDFULNESS AND MOTIVATION FOR YOUTH AND CHILDREN
It’s no mystery that our younger generation is facing some of the most critical challenges of our time. Recent research has expanded our knowledge of the significant changes that occur in the pre-adolescent and adolescent brain, tracing the neural pathways and behavioral patterns that last all the way into their early/middle twenties, especially in the development of white matter where cognitive functioning takes place.
Because their brains are still developing, adolescents are particularly receptive to the positive influences of youth development strategies, social and emotional learning, and behavioral modeling. On the other hand, the developing brains coupled with hormonal changes, make them more prone to depression and more likely to engage in risky and thrill-seeking behaviors than either younger children or adults. These and other factors underline the importance of meeting their mental, social, and emotional needs.
Approximately 20% of adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder.
Many mental health disorders first present during adolescence.
Between 20% and 30% of adolescents have one major depressive episode before they reach adulthood.
For a quarter of individuals with mood disorders like depression, these first emerge during adolescence.
Between 50% and 75% of adolescents with anxiety disorders and impulse control disorders (such as conduct disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) develop these during adolescence.
A poll from the National Center for Education Statistics cited that problems like apathy, tardiness, disrespect and absenteeism posed significant challenges for teachers. These issues were seen more frequently at the secondary school level rather than the primary grades. Adolescence can be a lonely and insecure period in life.
Why Mindfulness? Recently, mindfulness has become a familiar word in the glossary of mental and emotional health. What is mindfulness? It is the ability to tune-in to what is happening in and around us. Without mindfulness, we are driven by our impulses, emotions, memories or desires which determine our inner reality and thus, our behavior. It’s considered that more than half of what we think, daily, is either trivial or negative. By re-training our thought processes, we can learn to calibrate our actions and reactions vs. being victims of the same.
There is extensive scientific evidence of how and why Sound is effective. This paragraph from the Global Institute of Sound and Consciousness puts it into context:
The Physics of Sound
Science has described in detail how resonance works at many different levels. Everything has a resonant frequency that it naturally vibrates at. Everything! Resonance happens when a strong vibration causes something else to vibrate. This strong vibration can be in tune with nature – or not. Resonance is the key to using sound to make changes in your life and it is completely based on science. Science has even explained resonance at the quantum level, which is now beginning to explain our connections to each other as spiritual beings. It particularly explains how intention works.”
Sound Meditation is the practice of creating a state of mental stillness by using certain instruments that reproduce natural overtones, calm the brain and grant us momentary reprieve from the barrage of thoughts galloping through our minds. A sound practitioner will guide the individual or group through a gentle and yet powerful vibrational session that tunes our nervous system and provides a catalyst for contemplation.
In this state, matters such as self-awareness, anger management, overcoming depression, learning compassion, overcoming addictions, non-violent communication, defining goals, self-discovery, forgiveness, structuring the future, can be addressed in a personal and compassionate manner. The result depends on the young person’s decision to become conscious which may happen immediately, or over a period of time.
We live in an achievement - oriented world where immediate results define the success of a project, leaving little space for the gestation period of new ideas and concepts to grow on fertile ground. Some young people may live in chaotic family settings, others may be struggling with esteem issues rooted in their past or the lack of intellectual stimulus within their environment, few positive role models and even abuse.
On the short term, the student will learn to observe his/her thoughts,
reflect on the cause and effect of negative thought patterns and
understand that he has the power to change them. The subject
matter of each workshop becomes food for thought, offering new
attitudes when necessary, and forming stronger, non-judgmental
bonds with himself and his peers. This kind of support is exceptionally
effective because it is non-confrontational, personal and profound.
The simple exercise of listening not only permits the mind to rise
above its chatter, but opens the consciousness to peaceful and
On the long term, this state of mind starts to take root and it becomes a habit to entertain coherent and critical inner conversations instead of impulsive, invasive emotions. The exercises become part of
the young person’s tool-chest when he/she is faced with crucial decisions farther down the line.
If we offer our teenagers tools to become more mindful, we are strengthening their ability to avoid catastrophic decisions, reject violent impulses, focus on their goals and dreams, discover who they are, and who they want to become, and find inner peace. When a young person is standing at life’s crossroads, mindfulness can mean the difference between triumph or disaster.