Mindfulness

Adolescence is a transitional stage from childhood to adulthood. Situational factors around adolescents may at times distract an adolescent's mind from functioning in a rational way. The skill of mindfulness may help the adolescents to calm their mind and body, and lead life in an effective manner. Further, it may also help the adolescents to reduce stress, anxiety, pressure and fear faced by them due to low academic performance, peer pressure in school, misunderstanding and issues with friends and family, etc. Evidence supports that seven attitudinal factors contribute to the major pillars of mindfulness practice. 
 
They are:
  • Non Judging- Being non- judgmental requires becoming aware of the constant stream of judging and reacting to inner and outer experiences and learning to step back from it. It is basically, assuming the stance of an impartial witness. For an adolescent it is important to recognize the judging quality of mind in order to cultivate the skill of mindfulness.
  • Patience- It is a form of wisdom and makes us accept the fact that things unfold in their own time. In adolescents, patience may be a helpful quality to invoke when the mind is agitated.
  • Beginners' Mind- To be in the present and feel the richness of that moment, adolescents need to cultivate what is called 'beginner's mind', i.e., willing to see everything as if for the first time without having past experience about it.
  • Trust- Trust is an important virtue to build in adolescence, as it marks the way for the sense of security in one's mind. Adolescents may practice the attitude of trusting themselves (self-reliance) and their own basic wisdom and goodness which may be helpful for them to calm their mind and handle situations in an effective manner.
  • Non Striving- It is an important factor in cultivating mindfulness. The best way to do so is to back off from striving for results and instead to start focusing carefully on seeing and accepting things as they are, moment by moment.
  • Acceptance- It is seeing things as they actually are in the present. It does not mean that adolescents must like everything or have a passive attitude towards everything. It only means to emphasize on a willingness to see things as they are. E.g., if an adolescent is overweight, he/she should first accept this situation, accept and love oneself, and then strive to change it.  
  • Letting Go- Cultivating the attitude of letting go or non-attachment, is fundamental to the practice of mindfulness. It means to emphasize on the virtue that nothing should be as overpowering to 'own' one's mind.
 
In adolescents, to practice mindfulness, the above factors need to be cultivated. Together these factors constitute the foundation upon which meditation practices can be built. For an adolescent, mindfulness may help them to become more focused, more able to approach situations from a fresh perspective, use existing knowledge more effectively, and pay attention. It also contributes in the development of cognitive and performance skills, and over time enhance resilience in the adolescents. To cultivate mindfulness in adolescents, right parental support and guidance from trained professionals can be of great help.

"Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment. We also gain immediate access to our own powerful inner resources for insight, transformation, and healing." -  Jon Kabat-Zinn