Having worked with children and young people for many years in a variety of different settings, including education and social work, I saw myself as understanding, loving and compassionate. In the early years I would do all that I could to help young people feel happier and to avoid suffering. I would look for ways to help them to take their minds off of their problems, or I would sit down with them to work out a solution to their problems. It was called empowerment. What I did not do was to encourage them to be with their painful feelings, to be fully present and not to run away. My focus was always on problem solving.
With hindsight I can see that as a result of my misguided way of trying to help, the young people did not develop the awareness, understanding and skills needed to recognise and acknowledge the feelings that manifested. Nor did they have the opportunity to look deeply into these feelings to find the root causes, and to discover that like everything else situations change.
So what do I do now that is different? What mindful tips would I give my misguided self? Since learning about mindfulness-based approaches and training as a mindfulness – teacher I now encourage the young person to:
- Sit quietly and to simply be aware of their own breathing.
- Become more aware of their body and sensations in the body, especially any areas of tension
- Acknowledge and name their feelings and then stay with those feelings as they arise
- Concentrate, looking deeply into any negative feeling to find the root causes and discover any wrong perceptions they might have
- Recognise that these feelings with pass
- Let go