Teen – Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Has anyone ever told you to “pay attention?” We’re guessing yes. But has anyone ever told you HOW to do that? That’s what mindfulness is all about. Mindfulness means paying attention on purpose with curiosity & kindness, and without judgment. Explore more below to learn how to live in the moment, reduce anxiety, and engage more positively with the world around you.

10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness Daily

#1 Create A Morning Ritual

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Mornings can have the power to set the tone for the rest of your day.

  1. When you first wake up, before looking at your phone or getting caught up by any other distractions, take a moment of quiet reflection for yourself.
  2. Your morning ritual could be as simple as sitting up in your bed, eyes closed, and spending a moment or two focused on your breathing. While breathing, you can practice a simple moment of gratitude and think of something you are grateful for or set an intention (aim or focus) for your day.
  3. As you develop this morning ritual, you can deepen your practice by sitting for longer periods and allowing more silence before you begin your day. You can think of this practice as a way to set yourself up for success for the day by regulating your nervous system (your body’s functioning) in preparation for the day ahead.

#2 Mindful Breathing

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Remember You Are Always Breathing!

One of the easiest and most direct ways to bring your attention to the present moment is by bringing your attention to your breath. Your breath is always happening in the present moment whether you are thinking about it or not, and by bringing your attention to it, you are directly connecting yourself to the present moment as it is unfolding.

    • You can try this right now. As you take a few breaths, notice how you are breathing, if it is shallow or deep, and where in your body you feel it, whether it be in your chest, belly, or nose.
    • For a quick practice: Take three deep belly breaths in and out through your nose, focusing your attention on your inhale and exhale, noting where you feel the breath in your body. Repeat this three times and practice it as often as you need throughout the day. This practice can be especially useful in stressful circumstances.

#3 Mindful Listening

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Practice Mindful/Active Listening

Many times, when someone is speaking to us, we are often caught up in our own mind thinking of what we are going to say next, without giving their words our full attention and consideration. Mindful listening is a way of listening without judgment, criticism, or interruption. Do this while at the same time as being aware of internal thoughts and reactions you may be experiencing that are actually getting in the way of people communicating with you effectively.

Next time you are in a conversation, try actively listening to the other person with your full attention and see what you notice. Is the conversation more enjoyable? Easier? Or something else? This type of mindful listening can lead to developing deeper and more authentic connections with others.

 

#4 Check in with Your Body

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Tune into your Body

One of the most amazing aspects of your body is that it functions without you having to do anything — your heart beats, your lungs breathe, and your stomach processes and digests your food without you having to tell them to. Yet, your body also constantly sends you messages and feedback through different sensations that you might not always notice. It is an important tool for your health to make some time each day to tune into your body’s sensations and notice if you think it is trying to communicate something to you. Take a moment each day and check in with your body. What do you notice? Are there any pains or aches? Do you feel a sense of heaviness or lightness? Do you feel tight anywhere? By bringing your attention to your body, you are able to bring your attention to the present and also connect to the feedback and information your body is sending you so you can learn from your body.

The Practice

Set an alarm on your phone or watch for a specific time each day to check in with your body and do this practice. Take a deep breath and become fully aware of everything you feel through your senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, smell), including sensations in your body, the air on your skin, temperature of the room, sounds around you, etc. Notice, allow, and breathe through any discomfort that might come up from thoughts, feelings, or sensations you have.

Tips for strong emotions or sensations: When you do this practice, it is normal for strong emotions or physical sensations to be there. If the emotions or sensations feel overwhelming, just stop the practice and give yourself some kudos for trying it out! Many people have noticed that the more they practice, the more they are able to handle big emotions or sensations in their bodies.

If the emotions or sensations are not too overwhelming and you want to keep practicing, try this:

  • As you check in with your body and emotions, see if you can “feel” where the emotions live in your body. You might find that feelings of worry or anxiety cause discomfort in your chest and so on. Once you identify where that emotion lives in your body, you can bring your attention to it, and see if you can relax your body in that area. This can help release and soften the emotion or sensation you are feeling and maybe even its impact on you.

#5 Find Things to be Grateful For

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Adopting an “attitude of gratitude” is a little practice that can have a big impact on your life! People who regularly practice gratitude make time in their day to notice and reflect on the people, places, and things they are thankful for. In doing so, studies suggest they experience more positive emotions, sleep better, have more compassion and kindness towards others, feel more alive, and even have stronger immune systems. This practice allows you to really savor and appreciate the goodness in your life.

    • It is best done daily for 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes before going to bed by reflecting in your favorite journal and writing down 3 things you are grateful for.
    • You can start by noting simple things that make your life better each day, for example, a friend or family member who helps you, a place like your home or school, or things like your favorite blanket, sweater, or pet.
    • This practice is also useful for moments when your life feels stormy or out of control, too. It is a powerful way to uplift your mind by focusing your attention in the present moment to what is positive in your life.
    • It is a way to gently bring the positive things to the forefront of your mind so that you are able to more easily come back into the present moment, rather than worrying about the future or thinking about difficulties in the past.

By focusing on the positive we become more available to create a more positive future and attract more of the things we do want in our life. Just remember, where your focus goes, energy flows!

#6 Mindful Movement / Walking

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

There are so many times throughout the day where the mind is distracted or on autopilot and you might wonder how you got from point A to point B without having to put much thought into it. By bringing mindful attention to your walking or movement, you can break free from this cycle, clearing your mind of any clutter, and restoring your sense of focus and attention to what is directly in front of you. The goal is simple and fun. Become consciously aware while moving.

As you walk or move, pay attention to the sensations of the body, and play with your movement. Imagine you are an alien who just landed on Earth and had to learn how to walk on our planet. How do your feet feel when they each hit the ground? How do the other muscles of your body feel as you balance? Notice if and how your arms swing as you walk. Is it easier or more difficult to move if you slow down? As you become aware of your body and surroundings, see if you can open up your senses with a sense of curiosity and joy to experience the sights, sounds, and smells that surround you.

#7 Tap into Your Flow State

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

It’s more likely than not that you have experienced a flow state at some point in your life. It is a state of mind and body where you are completely absorbed and intensely focused on your task at hand, unaffected by any distractions. In this state, time will feel like it has slowed down, your senses will be heightened, and your actions and awareness are in sync to respond with effortless momentum.

    • Tapping into a flow state is possible for everyone and can be achieved in a physical activity, creative pursuit, or even more mundane everyday tasks. Many people know this state as being “in the zone,” and it is an incredibly powerful state to be able to tap into.
    • Tapping into a flow state becomes easier the more you practice mindfulness meditation, because you are actively training your attention, focus, and concentration.
    • A flow state is essentially meditation in motion and is most easily accessible by doing something you love.
    • To create flow remember: you must be engaging in something you like or with an attitude of joy, the activity cannot be too easy or difficult, your mindset must be focused on the journey not the destination, process, or the end result.

#8 Observe Your Surroundings with Mindful Seeing

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Mindful seeing is the practice of taking in your surroundings by observing and noticing the finer details of life all around you in the present moment, without needing to label or judge them in any way. This is best practiced outdoors where you can experience the natural world around you.

You might notice:
    • The clouds moving across the sky,
    • People or animals walking by,
    • The wind against your face,
    • Leaves falling from the trees, or
    • The beautiful flowers.

There are so many ways to practice mindful seeing. Look for the small details, the things you find beautiful, and the quiet things in life and the world around you. When you take in these details, notice how they make you feel inside. Another level of mindfulness, unlocked. This practice reveals the beauty and gift that can be found in the present moment — all around you, all the time. Practicing this way, through how you observe the world, shows you the choice you always have over where and how your attention is directed. This choice of where you place your attention is always yours.

 

#9 Try Mindful Eating

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

A really great and enjoyable way to bring your attention to the present moment is when you eat. Sometimes we aren’t paying attention to the food we eat because we’re distracted and busy doing other things at the same time — homework, talking or texting with friends, watching videos or TV, etc. This can often lead to mindless eating where you may eat way more than you meant to or so fast that you didn’t realize you were already full. When you take time to eat mindfully, you can bring yourself into the experience, truly appreciate your food, and engage all five of your senses.

    • Start with a small portion, look at your food, noticing the colors, aromas, and textures. Think about where your food came from, and all of the people, plants, and animals that helped make this food for you. Take a moment to practice gratitude in your mind and heart, saying “thank you” for all the work that it took to bring you this food.
    • Use your nose to smell the aromas your food has to offer.
    • As you chew slowly and thoroughly, feel the textures in your mouth, like soft, hard, chewy, warm, or cold.
    • Listen to the sounds the foods make as you chew the food and focus on the diverse flavors you taste.

The more you practice mindful eating, the more enjoyment and nourishment you will experience when eating.

#10 Find A Buddy!

Developing a mindfulness practice doesn’t always have to be something you do alone. Lots of times mindfulness is practiced in a community or group setting. Community support is key to developing and maintaining a practice. If you tend to be more social, or like the accountability, connection, and support that community or group members bring to the experience, find a buddy or group to practice with! There are some awesome apps and organizations that offer teen-centered mindfulness classes, retreats, and practices on their website and in-person.

Check them out here:

Why Practice?

Why Practice Mindfulness?

Written by Team BLOOM

  |  Reviewed by Em Morrison

As you’ve grown, you have likely spent a lot of time developing your knowledge and intelligence in school and strengthening your body with physical activity. Yet, more likely than not, you probably haven’t spent much time being taught how to train your mind, which is one of the most valuable skills you can have. When you take the time to practice mindfulness, you are actively training your mind and changing your brain in a positive way. You are making it stronger and more resilient (flexible), which can lead to all sorts of positive mental, emotional, physical, and social effects. These positive effects of practicing mindfulness can include increasing your ability to focus, helping you better recognize, understand, and regulate your emotions, and being a more empathetic or caring friend and family member.

Practicing mindfulness points out the beauty and gift that can be found in the present moment — all around you, all the time. When you practice mindful seeing, for instance, and take in your surroundings, such as the clouds moving across the sky, the wind in your face, or leaves falling from the trees, you begin to observe and notice all the wonderful finer details of life that you may not have seen before. This way of being is always available to you. It is a choice you can make about where to place your attention any moment you want. This is your true power.

When you practice mindfulness you experience the choice you always have over where and how your attention is directed.

The positive effects of mindfulness aren’t always instant. When you practice over and over, the benefits grow and grow, just like you improve at any skill the more you practice. More likely than not, practice may seem challenging, especially at the beginning, but all of a sudden you may start to notice feeling calmer throughout the day, less reactive to stressors, and maybe you even experience more feelings of gratitude than before. Speaking of which, maybe you’d like to try a mindfulness practice right now?

To read a teen’s personal story of how a mindfulness practice can positively impact your life, check out Tali’s story, here.

 

The Positive Health Effects

The Positive Health Effects

Written by Team BLOOM

  |  Reviewed by Em Morrison

The scientific study of mindfulness began over 40 years ago, and research continues to suggest some exciting positive health effects that result from consistent daily mindfulness practice. Through this emerging research, scientists and researchers are finding that mindfulness meditation, in as little as 8 weeks, may reduce anxiety and depression, boost your immune system, help you manage pain, allow you to unhook from unhealthy habits and addictions, soothe insomnia, reduce high blood pressure, and even change the structure and function of your brain in positive ways. To uncover some of these findings, you can explore the positive health effects mindfulness has been shown to have on the body and mind in the studies listed below:

Practicing Affirmations

How to Get Started Practicing Affirmations

Written by Team BLOOM

  |  Reviewed by Em Morrison

  1. Find a time to practice that is free from distractions and is in a place you feel comfortable.
  2. Remind yourself that your words and thoughts have tremendous power and can shape the life you want to have.
  3. As you begin your affirmations, bring your attention to your heart and repeat each affirmation intentionally three to five times each. Don’t just rattle off your affirmations from memory. Be sure to really connect to each word allowing them to create a deep, lasting impression on you.
  4. Connect with the emotions the affirmations make you feel. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that come as if this affirmation is true for you right now. Really feel those positive emotions such as joy, inspiration, passion, happiness, relief, excitement, and gratitude deeply as you make your affirmations.
  5. End your affirmation practice with a moment of gratitude towards yourself for taking a step towards the life you want. End your practice with this powerful reminder from Mahatma Gandhi — a lawyer and activist who successfully led his country, India, to freedom from British colonial rule in 1947. Gandhi is famous for his philosophy of nonviolent resistance that has inspired civil rights leaders around the world including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Your beliefs become my thoughts.
Your thoughts become my words.
Your words become my actions.
Your actions become my habits.
Your habits become my values.
Your values become my destiny.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

Some ways to help your young person practice positive affirmations:

  • Print the I AM Affirmations practice out for your young person (at bottom of full article). You can read it to them in the morning or at bedtime or leave it for them to practice on their own if they are older.
  • If you want to make their list of affirmations more personalized, sit down with them and write a list of affirmations they believe in and feel strongly about for themselves.
  • Everyone is different, check in with your young person to see if they would feel more comfortable voicing their affirmations with you, on their own (maybe in front of a mirror), writing them down (on sticky notes they can place around their room), or using visualization. Support them in their choice.
  • You can always change them up, add to them, or focus on one or two. Help your young person by affirming their statements throughout the day.
5 Tips for Affirmations

5 Tips for Starting Affirmations

Written by Team BLOOM

  |  Reviewed by Em Morrison

#1 Affirmations are clear and direct declarative statements. 

Be sure to be clear and direct as you state how you wish things to be. Do not allow your statements to contain any doubt or uncertainty.

#2 Affirmations are most powerful when beginning with the words “I am.” 

Using “I am” statements at the beginning of each affirmation tells your subconscious mind what is — making your mind believe it is true.

#3 Affirmations are used in the present tense. 

The best way to train your mind to create powerful neurological pathways is to train it to believe your statement is already true, now. Because your subconscious mind operates in the present, not in a future state, be sure the messages you create for your desires are stated as if they are already true.

#4 Affirmations use positive statements spoken in positive, not negative language. 

Your subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between positive or negative words. Therefore, affirm what you want rather than what you don’t want. Instead of saying, “I don’t want to get sick” or “I won’t fail this test,” affirm, “I am healthy and strong” and “I see myself passing this test with flying colors!”

#5 Affirmations infused with emotion are much more powerful. 

To get yourself motivated and inspired about your affirmation, explore the ‘why’ and reason behind what you set out to achieve. Really feel the power, excitement, and drive behind your intention deep into your spiritual being, and build your statement from there. Be sure that the words for the affirmation light you up inside and are filled with the desire you seek. The stronger the emotion is behind your affirmation, the stronger the messaging to your subconscious mind and the new neurological pathways that form will be, transferring these thoughts to reality.

 

I AM Affirmations

I AM Affirmations

Written by Team BLOOM

  |  Reviewed by Em Morrison

An affirmation is a positive statement that is true and that offers encouragement or emotional support.

Affirmations are a powerful way to shape and change our beliefs into our thoughts, and these thoughts into our actions. They are a structured way to practice positive new thoughts. When we hear and practice these affirmations we are consciously and subconsciously practicing new thought patterns. These thought patterns will become new habits of thinking and behaving, leading to a better sense of self and unity. Because affirmations are practices of new thoughts and your thoughts create your reality, the importance of daily practice becomes clear. Each affirmation we hear strengthens us and creates a sense of confidence, empowerment, and unity.

  1. I AM Strong and Resilient.
  2. I AM Smart, Creative, & Love Learning New Things.
  3. I AM Worthy and Valuable.
  4. I AM Brave, Confident, & Courageous.
  5. I AM Positive and Find Inspiration in the Beauty that Surrounds Me.
  6. I AM Unique and Talented.
  7. I AM Grateful and Giving.
  8. I AM Calm, Mindful, & Reflective.
  9. I AM Honest, Trustworthy, & Respectful.
  10. I AM Helpful, Capable, & Resourceful.
  11. I AM Patient, Flexible, & Adaptable.
  12. I AM Hardworking, Determined, & Focused.
  13. I AM Open Minded and Have An Open Heart.
  14. I AM Just As Important As Everyone Else and Everyone Else Is Just as Important As Me.
  15. I AM Compassionate and Forgiving.
  16. I AM Kind, Caring, & Thoughtful.
  17. I AM Loved and Blessed.
  18. I AM Wild, Adventurous,
  19. …and Free to Be Me.
  20. AND Being Me is Always Enough!

Take a moment to thank yourself for doing this work today.
Every day you show up can make a difference in your life. 

To borrow some wisdom adapted from the incredible leader, Mahatma Gandhi, affirm to yourself:

My beliefs become my thoughts.
My thoughts become my words.
My words become my actions.
My actions become my habits.
My habits become my values.
My values become my destiny.

Affirmations & your young person

Our young people can receive positive affirmations from us as well as others around them, like their teachers or coaches. They can also learn to use them in their self-talk. Positive affirmations can not only increase their self-esteem but they also can create a more positive outlook, increased ability to handle stress, and can work to remove those pesky negative thoughts that so easily creep into all our minds at times. They are also a great tool for young people who are struggling to manage their emotions. Share the above practice with them to plant seeds of self love and watch them bloom!

Resources

A list of BLOOM's trusted resources to find more information and support… VIEW ALL

Trusted Organizations
Inward Bound Mindfulness Education

Guides teens and young adults in self-awareness, compassion, & ethical decision making, and empowers them to apply these to their lives.

Chopra Global

By focusing on physical, mental, and spiritual health, we empower people to create self-care routines as unique as they are, unlocking their body’s natural healing abilities.

Blissful Kids

Blogs about children’s mindfulness, psychology, and well-being with mindfulness activities, books, and online training materials available.

Books, Apps, & Podcasts
Insight Timer

Offers 100,000 free guided meditations for as long as you want without ever paying a cent.

Headspace Meditation App

Offers a wide range of meditations for beginners and experienced users.

Calm App

App for sleep and meditation. Experience better sleep, lower stress, and less anxiety.

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