Now and Then

People often ask me how to introduce teens to mindfulness. One of the best ways to answer that question is to illustrate it through a story from my own life, such as the snorkeling adventure I mentioned in my last post. I find that mixing stories with real-life examples from the world of teens—along with an appropriate amount of self-disclosure—gets me a lot of mileage in connecting with teenagers and trying to help them.

If we go back to my worry-filled mind as I anticipated going snorkeling, we can see that talking about that experience is just the kind of opening that would help teens relate to a common pattern in their own minds. A great intervention to use with teens is to have them find out how many of their thoughts are actually about what’s going on here and now. They can see that by spending so much time in their mind on things that have already happened or are going to happen, they aren’t living their life right now. How much are they missing in the present?

As an exercise, you can have them jot down all the thoughts that come to their mind for a period…