Friday, June 5, 2020

Mindful-TEEN & Parenting Programs at Samadhi Rainbow Program Youth Camp

July 26, 2014 by  
Filed under Mindfulness

A Malaysian version of Mindful-TEEN program made its humble debut at the Samadhi Rainbow Program (SRP) Youth Camp, which was held from 22-24th March 2014. The camp was organized by Buddhist Missionary Society of Malaysia (BMSM) in collaboration with KL Buddhist Mental Health Association (BMHA), and was held at the Samadhi Vihara.  Twenty teenagers aged between 12 – 17 years and a 9-year old boy attended the 9-hour program which aimed at promoting emotional resilience within them. The program consisted of 3 main themes which are the “what, why and how” of mindfulness, dealing with difficult emotion, and kindness to self. 

For the “what” of mindfulness, the participants were introduced to the definition by Jon Kabat-Zinn – “Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgmental way”, which they memorized with enthusiasm. They were taught the “how” by paying attention to the 5 senses, movement, breath, and emotion. The participants played competitive games and engaged in activities to experience “paying attention” to hearing, touching and movement. An activity that the participants enjoyed especially was the rhythmic “cup clap” movement featured in the music video “the cups song”. In this activity, the participants had to pay attention to the hand movements as well as to the tapping and clapping sound of the group so as to be in unison.  Immediately after the routine, they observed 3 breathe followed by 3 sounds which most of them could do so without much difficulty.  However, the “why” which was mostly about mindlessness did not elicit much response from the participants.   

In the session on “paying attention to emotion”, the participants listened to music and expressed their feeling through drawings.  A 3-step approach – pause, observe, choose – was introduced as a method of dealing with difficult emotion.  It was emphasized that we can choose our response wisely when we are mindful. 

Lastly, the concept of “non-judgmental” was illustrated visually through optical illusions and video on awareness test. The participants appeared to be thrilled by the visuals and explored them curiously. To encourage kindness to self, the participants were asked to make a list of what they like about themselves and another on what they like about each of the group members. When they each compared the lists, it was revealed that they had overlooked many of their good qualities. It was pleasing to note that most participants beamed and giggled when reading out the lists made by others.

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While the Mindful-TEEN program was ongoing, May, another Mindful-Gym trainer was conducting Mindful Parenting Program with the parents. At the end of the program, a joint session for the teenagers and parents was held. Both the teenage participants and parents shared what they had learned and a short video on Learning to Breathe – a mindfulness curriculum for adolescents was screened to close the program.
I wish to highlight some interesting feedback from the teenagers, such as “they sort of knew what mindfulness was before but now they are clearer”, “mindfulness can help them to calm down”, and “they could pause by paying attention to the breath, body sensation", "I feel fresh (after mindful-STOP), etc”, and one participant asked, “what is the difference between meditation and mindfulness”. Awesome!
I am very grateful for the support from BMSM, Aloka Foundation especially Sis. Sumangala, Sis. Jivani, parents of some of the participants and all volunteers who worked very hard during the camp to make sure we were comfortable. To the young, enthusiastic and energetic facilitators from Dhammaduta Youth (D2Y), and my son Shi Hoong, thank you for saving me from physical exhaustion! Last but not least, Dr. Phang (developer of MINDFULGym), thank you for your guidance and your trust in me.  
Prepared by,
Clinical Psychologist,
Mindful-Gym Trainer, BMHA.
Note: Both Sis. KC & May are clinical psychologists in private practice and co-trainers of the MINDFULGym program. The Mindful-TEEN & Mindful Parenting Programs are extensions of the MINDFULGym program. 

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