Author(s): Patricia Broderick
Disruptive behavior in the classroom, poor academic performance, out-of-control emotions: if you work with adolescents, you are well-aware of the challenges this age group presents. What if there was a way to calm these students down and arm them with the mindfulness skills needed to really excel in school and life?
Written by mindfulness expert and licensed clinical psychologist Patricia C. Broderick, Learning to Breathe is a secular program that tailors the teaching of mindfulness to the developmental needs of adolescents to help them understand their thoughts and feelings and manage distressing emotions. Students will be empowered by learning important mindfulness meditation skills that help them improve emotion regulation, reduce stress, improve overall performance, and, perhaps most importantly, develop their attention. The book also includes a website link with student handouts and homework assignments, making it an ideal classroom tool.
The book integrates certain themes of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, into a program that is shorter, more accessible to students, and compatible with school curricula. Students will learn to pay attention in the moment, manage emotions as they are perceived, and gain greater control over their own feelings and actions. These mindfulness practices offer the opportunity to develop hardiness in the face of uncomfortable feelings that otherwise might provoke a response that could be harmful (e.g. acting out by taking drugs, displaying violent behavior or acting in by becoming more depressed).
This easy-to-use manual is designed to be used by teachers, but can also be used by any mental health provider teaching adolescents emotion regulation, stress reduction and mindfulness skills. The author is a graduate of the MBSR advanced practicum at the Center for Mindfulness in Massachusetts, led by Jon Kabat-Zinn. She is also a clinical psychologist and a certified school psychologist and counselor for grades K-12. In the book, Broderick calls on her years of experience working with adolescents to outline the best strategies for dealing with disruption in the classroom and emotions that are out of hand.
The book is structured around six themes built upon the acronym BREATHE, and each theme has a core message. The program allows for themes to be delivered in 6 longer or 18 shorter sessions, depending upon time and needs of students. The 6 core lessons are: Body, Reflection, Emotions, Attention, Tenderness, and Healthy Mind Habits.
Learning to Breathe is the perfect tool for empowering students as they grapple with the psychological tasks of adolescence.
“I have had an opportunity to use the BREATHE program with a cohort of first semester college undergraduates. The move to college creates unique challenges, and the BREATHE program, which can be adapted for this population, provides powerful tools to help emerging adults manage this transition. Learning the basics of mindfulness, strengthening emotion recognition and emotion management skills, and developing compassion for self and others, are all extremely important skills for college students. . . . As Broderick writes, ‘there is a difference between knowing about emotions and knowing your own emotions as they are experienced.’ The BREATHE program allows this distinction to emerge brilliantly.”—Sandra Kerr, PhD, professor in the department of psychology, West Chester University, PA
“Learning to Breathe is an invaluable resource for those looking to share mindfulness with adolescents. Broderick has carefully crafted a professional and wonderfully straightforward mindfulness curriculum that can be used in a variety of settings. Highly recommended!”—Doug Worthen, mindfulness teacher at the Middlesex School in Concord, MA
"Learning to Breathe couldn't have come at a better time! Educators are seeking new ways of meeting a rising tide of societal challenges. Compelling new research supports the benefits of learning a mindfulness practice. With a focus on adolescents, Broderick has intelligently created a flexible mindfulness curriculum that is user-friendly, evidence-based, and age-appropriate. Through this achievement she offers the opportunity to 'experience burgeoning self-awareness, self-regulation, and the emotional balance that supports fully engaged learning and well-being.' Ideally, all schools would teach these practices."--Marilyn Webb Neagley, education consultant, coeditor of Educating from the Heart, and author of Walking through the Seasons
Patricia Broderick is a research associate at the Pennsylvania State Prevention Research Center and founder of the Stress Reduction Center at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. She is a licensed clinical psychologist, a certified school psychologist and counselor for grades K-12, and she is a graduate of the mindfulness-based stress reduction advanced practicum at the Center for Mindfulness at UMASS. In addition, she is the author of The Life Span: Human Development for Helping Professionals, a textbook for graduate-level students and mental health professionals.