Anytime is a good time to practice mindfulness! Some people find that when they’re starting a new practice or habit, it helps to choose the same time every day. We recommend you try that — maybe when you wake up, when you go to sleep, or after dinner every day, for example. Some folks notice feeling more regulated and able to handle stressors more effectively throughout their day when they practice first thing in the morning.

Supporting your Young Person
If your young person is having trouble figuring out a good time of day to practice mindfulness you can always suggest starting during a time you know you both will be together. That way you each are practicing together and being accountable to each other. Once you feel like it is getting easier, branch out and try some different times of day to see if that is easier or harder. You can always go back to how you started out!

The positive effects of a mindfulness meditation practice are usually, for most people, subtle at first. Which means, it can be hard to notice immediate benefits for the first few weeks of a consecutive practice. After that first month, however, if you keep up a consistent practice, you will likely start to notice positive changes, like improved focus, the ability to be less reactive and handle a stressful or upsetting situation with more calm and clarity, and finding more things to be grateful for each day. Again, these positive effects are usually subtle at first, but if you pay attention you will likely start to notice these changes increase as your practice stays consistent. Also, you might start to notice what happens if you miss a day or two, maybe some of those positive effects fade. Keeping up a consistent daily meditation practice, as much as you can, is key to reaping the positive health effect rewards.

Supporting your Young Person
It can be hard for your young person to stay consistent with their mindfulness practice. But by sharing the subtle changes and shifts you have experienced in your life from your practice, you will help inspire them to notice any changes they have experienced in theirs. Noticing these changes and naming them can be an incredibly powerful motivator to keep with it. Life changes fast for an adolescent. But supporting and encouraging them on this journey can help them overcome any inconsistencies. Sometimes just helping each other be accountable can be the difference in creating and maintaining a healthy habit.

A little extra sleep is never a bad thing! Sometimes, falling asleep during your practice is your body’s way of telling you what it needs, and this happens to almost all meditators at some point! To help you not fall asleep during your practice, try sitting up on a pillow or cushion placed on the ground or sitting in a well supported chair, crossed legged, with your hands on your thighs, palms facing up or down, and you’ll likely avoid the issue of falling asleep. For those who actually need help falling asleep, try a yoga nidra or a body scan practice, as they are actually super helpful when you are having trouble falling asleep at night.

Supporting your Young Person
It can be helpful to remind your young person that while you want to be comfortable during a practice, you don’t want to be too comfortable! It is quite possible that they fall asleep during their practice since they most likely don’t get enough sleep as it is (e.g., late-night sleepovers, screen-time binges, and late-night study sessions). Don’t worry too much about it though, they are trying and that is what matters!

This experience can happen for some people and can sometimes be uncomfortable and make you want to stop. And you can — you can pause or stop your practice at any time, for any reason. You get to choose. If the feeling is so strong that you feel like you can’t deal with it, it might be helpful to talk about it with a friend or therapist. A counselor or therapist can help guide you through those feelings. And sometimes just talking it out with a friend who has a listening ear makes it easier for us to process the feelings and let them go. A lot of times we store intense emotions or experiences in our body and when we sit still and quiet for long enough, we sort of give our body a chance to process these things and allow them to come to the front of our minds. It can be helpful to just watch these emotions and feelings as they come up, without trying to change them, and often, you’ll find they pass or you might learn something about yourself that helps you let go of that feeling or emotion and move forward from it.

Supporting your Young Person
Your young person may be experiencing some intense emotions as well during their practice. Remind them that it is okay to stop anytime they need to. Be a non-judgmental, listening ear for them if they need to talk out some of the emotions they are feeling during their practice. Let them know you are always there for them and these emotions will not last forever, they will pass. If they still seem to be struggling or they do not want to open up to you about it, a therapist or counselor may be a helpful next step.

It is totally normal to feel awkward your first few times learning any new skill, and this can definitely be true for a mindfulness meditation practice too. Usually the more you practice something, the more comfortable you become, and this also holds true when developing a mindfulness practice. One thing that can help with those feelings is finding a quiet place, alone, with no distractions, that you feel most comfortable in. This can allow you to practice without worrying about anyone or anything else. Alternatively, if you are more social or like learning new skills under the guidance of a teacher, you can join a class or find a group of friends to practice with. In this scenario, you may feel less alone with everyone in the same boat practicing together. If you are interested in learning more about group mindfulness classes or retreats, check out Inward Bound Mindfulness Education (iBme)!

Supporting your Young Person
Sometimes starting an activity that is new for both us and our young person can help motivate us to be more prepared and take our minds off of feeling awkward while trying a new skill. Focus on your young person and help them move through their own awkwardness they may be feeling by keeping the mood light and the activity fun. When we are focused on helping someone else we naturally feel more comfortable and open to the experience.

Your mind racing or wandering is totally normal, and is such a common occurrence that it has its own term called, “monkey mind.” Monkey mind is a term that means a mind that is unsettled, restless, or confused. Think of a wild monkey bouncing around or swinging from tree to tree. That is kind of what can happen inside our brains when we get really quiet and still.

When you first start your practice, this is likely to happen much more often than not, and there are a few things you can do about it. One is to find an anchor — something to stabilize and focus your thoughts when you get distracted during a meditation. Your anchor can be your breath moving in and out of your body, the sounds you hear around you, or the feeling of your body touching your seat. When you notice your mind beginning to wander, gently bring your attention back to your anchor. This becomes the practice. When you have thoughts such as, “When is the timer going to go off? Is this a waste of my time? What should I eat for lunch?” gently remind yourself that your practice is an investment in improving your health and how well your body functions, and return your attention to your anchor. Each day you practice, you help regulate or bring back to balance your nervous system, which in turn makes you more able to handle anything that comes your way throughout the day.

Supporting your Young Person
Remind your young person that we all can have a “monkey mind,” and that it is something not limited to kids but that adults have it too. Try staying consistent with your practice as a team and talk with each other about if you are frustrated, if you are super focused, how you feel afterwards etc.

It’s very common to feel like you don’t have any free time available in the day to sit and be still, but the important thing to remember is that by doing this practice you are essentially giving yourself a gift. Mindfulness practice can actually enhance your ability to be more focused and productive throughout the day. It could also help you handle strong feelings like stress or anxiety, or experiences like a difficult interaction with a family member or friend, with much more flexibility and calm.

When you complete each mindfulness practice you have actually balanced your nervous system (this controls everything our bodies do, from walking to feeling emotion), and potentially created new pathways in your brain that can enhance your performance and ability to handle stress. These positive effects alone will likely save you time by helping you move through stressful or difficult situations and experiences without dwelling on them or having physical effects like stomach aches or headaches. It is using your time to invest in yourself, helping you become your best self, and each day improving on that goal.

Supporting your Young Person:
Just like us, our young people have full schedules on their plate. They may be feeling the same way — not sure how they are going to have time to add in more stuff! Challenge each other to create pockets of time for your practice and see who wins at the end of the week. Wake up one minute earlier in the morning and do a gratitude practice with your young person before you get ready for the day or as they wind down before bed. Or you can always double up on your healthy habits and quality time by doing some mindful walking and talking together.

The best way to begin a mindfulness practice is to start with something short, such as practicing for one minute. Then, gradually build yourself up from there, to a longer practice. It is helpful to limit the number of distractions when you practice, so put away the phone, turn off your music, and pick a room in your house that tends to be more quiet. But, you really can practice anywhere, even the most noisy room in the house!

Once you have your location picked out, set a small goal, like starting with just one minute.

  • Week 1: Start each day with a moment of gratitude, picking one thing you are grateful for, while you breathe in and out. Use a guided practice (you can find them for free on BLOOM’s Healthy Mind practices section, or download a free app like Stop, Breathe, Think, Plum Village, Insight Timer, or Liberate) and gradually move towards a two-minute practice by the end of the first week.
  • Week 2: From two-minute long practices by the end of week one, give yourself the goal of completing a five minute practice by the end of week two. You can keep using the guided practices, or experiment on your own. Try going for a mindful walk or enjoying mindful eating during this week.
  • Week 3: During week three, sustain your five minute practice with the aim (intention) to practice every day. If you haven’t yet tried mindful movement or mindful eating, try those! If you have, add mindful seeing or mindful tune in with your body.
  • Week 4: Congratulations, you’re forming a really positive habit! Try the rest of the practices like a morning routine or a longer gratitude practice. Keep practicing from 1-5 minutes per day.
  • Ongoing: Allow yourself to celebrate your work in bringing this healthy practice into your life. Even if it’s just for one minute, try to practice every day no matter what. Mindful showering, mindful toothbrushing, mindful texting — see how many activities you can bring mindfulness to and watch the benefits increase in your life!

Supporting your Young Person
You can do this same practice and include your young person as well. Learning this together can help build on your bond with each other and increase the mutual respect you have for one another, which can translate to all parts of your life together. If you think they would prefer to do this practice on their own, remind and congratulate them of their daily and weekly goals if they need it.