By Guest Blogger Gina Biegel, Stressed Teens
An Interview with Laurie Grossman
I have had the privilege and honor of knowing Laurie for about a decade now. I met Laurie when she was just
starting her first venture with mindfulness as co-founder of Mindful Schools. We would meet for tea and talk about the mindfulness practices and the efficacy and utility of bringing mindfulness to schools. These beginning seeds of mindfulness have taken root. There is now a large movement of mindfulness for all youth. Laurie wants to see, "mindfulness in every classroom from preschool to grad school." If you know Laurie like I do, then you know she will probably make this happen. Laurie is donating all of her profits from the book to form a college fund for the 5th grade authors.
The Origins of Master of Mindfulness
Twenty-five children in Mr. Musumeci's 5th grade class in East Oakland, California were working on a unit on superheroes and one of the students, Isaac said we should have a mindfulness superhero and it should be called Master of Mindfulness 'MOMS'. Laurie learned that Isaac thought, "mothers would want you to know how to do this." Further, he explained that "moms want you to be well and do your best." So a mindfulness superhero was born. This superhero can be your own mindful superhero. It can be like Isaac's or it can be your own. All of the scenarios in the book come directly from the kids. Every student in the class contributed to the book whether through a drawing or text.
Laurie says, "there isn't a kid in the universe that doesn't need this whether he is affluent or poor; from a very supportive family or one that is not." I agree with Laurie, pain, suffering and stress know no boundaries. Everyone is affected and everyone can use mindfulness to help. Given the climate of children's books today and the lack of children of color represented, it is great to see a book written by children of color that teaches all kids about the importance of mindfulness.
Mindfulness Helps You to Make Wise Choices and Manage Your Feelings
Laurie thinks that often "what gets people into trouble are impulsive decisions that aren't wise choices that are made from emotion by reacting rather than thinking and responding." Mindfulness helps children learn that they have "the power to make wise choices."
The practices in this book can help kids, parents, and teachers to, "calm down, pay attention to the world, and cope with distractions to improve concentration." The scripts in the back of the book are written by the students in this class and can serve as a "how-to" guide to practicing mindfulness.
Stress and Superheroes
I have learned through this book and interview that when you are a mindful superhero you are being the best person you can be inside and out. Laurie explained that when kids, parents and teachers aren't being nice they are probably having a hard time in their own life. It is the stress that "makes us not that nice." Therefore, if we practice mindfulness and are more present we are in turn kinder and nicer!
Laurie believes that if we can get students and teachers practicing daily, schools will be much more successful. All curricula will be more effective when kids know how to pay attention.
Gina M. Biegel, MA, LMFT is a psychotherapist practicing in Campbell, CA. She has worked for over a decade specializing in therapeutic work with teens and their families. Her area of interest and passion focuses on using a mindfulness-based approach with teens whom need help with managing stressors due to high-school demands, anxiety, depression, problems with relationships, and difficulties with paying attention and focusing. She is an expert in the field of mindfulness and psychology for teens. She developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Teens Program that is evidence-based and has been written about in the popular press. She is the founder and creator of Stressed Teens, a mindfulness-based program for adolescents and professionals. You can learn more at www.stressedteens.com. She recently published a deck of cards for teens Be Mindful Card Deck for Teens. Her first book, The Stress Reduction Workbook for Teens and audio CD are currently available on-line.
You can read an interview with two afterschool leaders on how they promoted mindfulness in afterschool by clicking here. For information on training and resources to promote mindfulness in afterschool, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sam Piha is the founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development.