Archive for March, 2013

Teaching Teens to Meditate for a Sense of Safety

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

We see quite a few teens who are under stress. They feel insecure in knowing who they are…because they are in adolescence and naturally uncertain. They live under enormous academic and social pressures to perform and often tend to think in a largely “black and white” linear fashion about “success.”

We see teens with anxiety and depression, exhibiting feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and a sense of not belonging. Crying spells and fatigue are pronounced, and many teens are turning to behaviors such as drinking and drug usage, food restriction or binge eating, cutting, as well as self-disparaging thinking patterns.

One profound coping tool that Dr. Kay Abrams shares with teens is the notion that simply breathing, slowly, in and out of their nose, with eyes shut, can calm the nervous system and lead them to a sense of safety. When we breathe in deeply, we ask our sympathetic nervous system- the one that is all about “fight of flight”, to quiet down and take a break.  When we can go inward and find calm, we are no longer vigilant and reactive. There is safe refuge to tap right inside of us, at any given moment. The more you practice this “muscle” of calming, the greater your ability to manage feelings of anxiety.

Furthermore, the more you practice quiet calm, with television, phones and all screens OFF, the greater chance you come to realize that it is through quieting our minds that we are grounded in our bodies and find our center, for stabilization and peace.  To quote a yoga teacher I recently heard at Vista Yoga in Atlanta, Georgia, “imagine you are part of the great ocean…each one of us is just a drop in the ocean, but you can find peace just relaxing into the greater ocean that holds us,” and “imagine you are an expansive wall. Every experience you have, positive or negative, every story you tell yourself is like paint on that wall, but the paint can be removed and there you are, expansive and clean and clear…at peace, standing strong.”

Teens need to know that there is a lot of noise in their heads, a lot of projection and fear. But, in their core center is a self that can stand still and strong and calm. There, they can find safe refuge for restoration as they face the challenges of their everyday world. They can learn to respond, rather than react, as they move forward. In this manner, they stand a better chance to thrive and develop with less fear and greater calm.