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Meditation & Youth – an Exciting Development

I returned this week to Juvie, after three weeks of being on vacation in Canada (eh?) There were old faces and new ones, some with big smiles and easy laughter, and some quiet, downcast, looking much older than their age. We had two guys that had never meditated before, who burst out laughing about ten seconds into our opening meditation. I got to practice not taking it personally, which with kids is pretty easy for me (with adults I think I would have a harder time) and redirected their attention laughingly back to the here and now. They seemed embarrassed and were scrunching their eyes, and contorting their faces trying to be serious and not laugh again. We made it on the second try for a whole minute with no interruption.

After we settled in, I passed out an article: Ten Reasons Why Every Athlete in the World Should Meditate, a really great and simple read. Well, it is mostly simple, but I did have to try to explain the meaning of the words ruminate and resilience. It is always a fairly comedic venture trying to translate my cultural lexicon into the guys’ and this time I think I did a particularly poor job, although in the end everyone got to laugh, so not a waste of time altogether. I tried to explain resilience by reference to the dolls that always pop right back up when you knock them over which nobody in class was familiar with, except one who said “Yah I know those! That’s called a slinky, you can get them at Chuck E Cheese’s!” For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the relationship between the word ruminate and ruminant – about how cows have four stomachs so they can eat grass by digesting it over and over again and this is kind of like what we do with our thoughts. I realized halfway through that this story was not necessary.

After a bit of silliness, Francesca led a body scan meditation, and it was beautiful to look around the room and see each guy following her instructions – closing their eyes, wiggling their toes, pulling their shoulders down and back. With the exception of one noticeably slumped individual, it was like looking around at a bunch of Buddha statues.

Now, I would like to introduce an idea that is very exciting to me. There has been a building tide of interest on this site in doing meditation programs with incarcerated and at-risk youth. We have a few people with a lot of experience, and many people with questions, all with the shared desire to do something beneficial and worthwhile for young folks who are in trouble. So this September we are going to be launching a working group for people interested in doing meditation and the Path of Freedom with youth. Once a month we will get together online, and participate in a discussion around particular issues, led by a different expert in the field each month.

I would appreciate your input as we finalize our plans for this working group. Are there topics that you would particularly like to see addressed? Is there an expert who you feel we should absolutely invite? Are you ridiculously excited? Do you have a good idea for a name for this group? Please leave your comments below, I look forward to hearing from you.

Over & out

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