Updated: May 26, 2020
It was great to hear from everyone who tuned into our first mindfulness & youth discussion group last night. I came away with new knowledge and ideas from the collective wisdom of the group, as well as a strong feeling of inspiration that there are people out there all over the world trying to do something helpful for young people who are in some way struggling. The group offered a great opportunity to meet people, from three continents I might add, thinking deeply and really doing the work of offering mindfulness skills to youth who are involved with the criminal justice system.
One of the highlights for me was Lawrence Huff‘s Yoga & Meditation class philosophy: Work out, chill out, & tune in. He casts himself as a “drill sergeant,” starting his meditation classes with jumping jacks and pushups, before moving into some relaxation and concentration techniques. Everyone agreed that getting the class moving, especially with a group of teenage boys, is a good idea! It was awesome to hear about the different ways that each different facilitator approaches the movement exercises – I think I am going to try some of this later today when I go into Juvie.
I also appreciated the conversation about brain science, and the particularities of working with youth whose brains are, as Doug Jackson pointed out, a “construction zone.” Working with youth is very different than dealing with adults, and gaining some understanding of brain development seems like a good idea for all of us. Doug suggested checking out the book The Age of Opportunity by Laurence Steinberg to get thoroughly schooled on the topic. I would personally suggest watching Doug’s Youtube video: Working with Youth Experiencing Intense Emotions as a helpful starting place. There was some good discussion around introducing simple brain science to the youth. I am no expert on the topic, but I am going to give it a try today – I’ll let you know how it pans out. If anyone has had success with simple exercises to explain the way meditation works with the brain, please let us know in the comments below!
A big thank you to everyone who turned out and participated in the conversation! If you couldn’t make it this time, I hope you will be able to join for our next meeting in about a month. But if you can’t wait that long, and want to continue in this lively online conversation, we have created a special group within the Prison Mindfulness website to post resources and keep the discussion going. Leave a comment below if you would like to join – I hope to see you there!