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Mindfulness And Child Development Focus of UC San Diego Conference

Mindfulness And Child Development Focus of UC San Diego Conference
Mindfulness And Child Development Focus of UC San Diego Conference
GUESTS: Steven Hickman, M.D., Executive Director, UC San Diego Center for MindfulnessAmy Saltzman, M.D., Co-founder and Director of the Association for Mindfulness in Education, The Still Quiet Place

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I'm Tom Fudge. But you get kids to be touched in school? Civic teachers of tried everything but there is another tool that requires kids to take a minute and get focused. It's called mindfulness and is used by educators and healthcare providers as well as psychotherapists and it is a type of meditation that revolves around being still in the moment and reflecting instead of reacting to circumstances and people around you. Research on children finds it helps with attention skills, helps to reduce test anxiety and school and in San Diego we are in a good place to talk about the subject due to the Center for mindfulness and located right here at UCSD. Joining me to talk about mindfulness in the upcoming conference they have this week on the subject are Steven Hickman and Amy Saltzman. Thank you very much for coming in. Doctor Hickman is a psychiatrist and he is the executive director of the UC San Diego Ctr. for mindfulness. Steven, what is mindfulness? STEVEN HICKMAN: I would like to talk about it as a moment to moment and nonjudgmental awareness and unpack that just a bit for the moment to moment part his just a moment that you have all the moment so live and this is it right here in this moment even though we have these amazing human brains that go into the future and into the past, everything really happens right here and there publications to stay here and be here when we need to contend with that and the nonjudgmental part is often we find that the struggle over how things are and how we can let go of that kind of judgment and a certain kind of beings but comes with that kind of awareness that this. I think that meditation cultivate this awareness and is one particular activity that can be done systematically to be more present and in the moment, it's not the only form and so they are separate and I would consider mindfulness the quality and meditation is the means of cultivating it. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What is mindfulness Jamie? AMY SALTZMAN: I will talk about how I introduce mindfulness to children, using the same concepts for translating them for children, but children know that mindfulness is paying attention as Steve said, here and now and not in the past or in the future. Nonjudgmental does not translate well to children so I talked about them to paying attention to what's going on right now and kindness and thinking and feeling behaving, one of the things I feel is very important above mindfulness as we do this practice so that we can choose our behavior, so my full definition for children is mindfulness is paying attention here and now, with kindness and curiosity so we can choose our behavior. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: When you're working with John and you call it mindfulness argues they were just going be quiet for a while? AMY SALTZMAN: My answer is both because they call it mindfulness because it's becoming more node and recognized it has a long and will base of research of benefit for adults, and a growing base of research for benefit the children to adolescence and I like to type I cannot research but at the same time sometimes we just sit and read and pay attention to that still quite place place between the breaths when you pay attention to that space and observe their thoughts and feelings and Mrs. Holt they are able to choose their behavior. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: How does this work? STEVEN HICKMAN: It helps people to pay attention There's a ton of research and we often show a graph of the number of studies done over the last twenty years around my fullness is a huge and financial curve because I wrote off the charts of last years and it started with studies the just asked people about their experiences, you feel like you have less anxiety or less pain and these sort of self-report measures of those expanding into the realm of changing brain function by systematically cultivating mindfulness changing the immune system and she able to ability to resist immune challenge is a change that the cellular level of being shown in different places and in genetic aspects as well, so there's a huge body coming at it from all the directions showing these benefits of essentially what looks to the outside but doing nothing. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Amy, talk about education and get back to the classroom with mindfulness. Where you start with kids? That say that you have a group of kids in the class, how do you introduce this concept? How to get them to practice it? AMY SALTZMAN: If people will follow along with me I will share with you how I introduce them to the practice and I simply asked them to close their eyes and bring their attention to their breath, and feel the expansion of the belly with the in breath, and the still space with the between the in breath and the outbreak, the release of the belly without breath and the other still space between the out-in breath, and kids can really feel this still quite place between the breath, and they can have learned that it's a reliable place to go for comfort especially when they are struggling, so that you this once can in kindergarten and first grade, they can simply learn that there is a still quite place and slightly slightly older ones in second and third and fourth grade, they can know that is a reliable place to go for comfort especially when they're having difficulties with Eric said and when you get to fourth-grade kids fourth grade and up can really apply mindfulness of resting and still quite place in watching their thoughts and watching their feelings in their body solicitations and then again choosing their behavior. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And would you go to is quite place? During math class or recess? AMY SALTZMAN: Can be any time, math class especially if the kid is a faced with a frustrating problem they can go that they are aware they are being frustrated and they will take a few slow deep breaths and dispute themselves in the need to change frustration and fix it just to be here a minute and I will be able to begin again and choose how I want to approach this problem. Recess is a similar thing For someone comes up to someone during recess and makes a snide comments, the child can over time there to watch their thoughts and feelings and usually that thought as I want to punch them in the nose, and then instead of punching him in the nose. Take a few deep breaths and realize that they have a choice. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That something meditation. AMY SALTZMAN: It's something meditation and there are many forms of meditation and part of what disgraces mindfulness from other forms of meditation, is that it moves with us from the practice. Into the rest of our day, into after class or your argument with your brother or the upset with your soon-to-be experts find, express friend, can inform our actions in the world. STEVEN HICKMAN: I would just add one charming story that I heard recently where we talk sometimes about mindfulness with this is with kids, we will make reference to the brain and what it does and the collated of mine talks about the amygdala hijack, part of the brain that takes us over in heated moments in an animal part that gets us into trouble when we react to get into trouble, we taught this to some third and fourth graders and teachers overheard the kids on the playground with one of them got upset about something and the feeling of one kid in America turned over said don't go all amygdala on me now. There is something about that moment. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Kid say that all of the time don't they. Amy, does this treatment help kids with learning disabilities? AMY SALTZMAN: We do have data out that shows that mindfulness helps with increasing intention and the data comes from two different sources, so teacher and parent reports but also again from comedic computerized tasks that are more objective We're showing that people who learn to practice mindfulness are better able to focus and pay attention. But I cannot than MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That is what is all about teaching kids to pay attention. AMY SALTZMAN: We tell kids all the time to pay attention but we never teach about. This is teaching them how. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What kind of training is required to teach mindfulness? STEVEN HICKMAN: The training for becoming a teacher of mindfulness is the practice of it. It stems from the foundation of practicing it personally first and he would not take swimming lessons from someone who will get into the pool and the same is true for mindfulness. This is a popular topic this day these days. People want to know how to teach it and learn the techniques and there are techniques to it, but the rest of a foundation of personal practice of this. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH:: This is been around as a concept to teach? STEVEN HICKMAN: The pioneering in this work really had a full grounding of what mindfulness was forty or so years ago. He really saw the practice of mindfulness could relieve suffering and he began to look at it when he was working in a hospital and said that he is working in a separate magnet, not bring in this relief of suffering. It really started the program that is now called mindfulness-based stress reduction that we've been taking teaching here for about twelve years and it's been around for about thirty more years, that is the program that is really carried the weight of what is going on with all of the research. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Get the practice mindfulness for a long time before you start seeing results or does it were quickly? AMY SALTZMAN: It's a bit of both, you can have a child or an adult begin the practice and start to have pretty spontaneous epiphanies, and then the idea and the hope is that as people practice they see the value of their life and they continue their practice and it becomes a self-perpetuating thing. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What you hear from kids after they've tried from this? AMY SALTZMAN: I have a fun thing that I do at the end of my courses, I have my kids right a letter to a friend describing their experience to a friend and they say things like I don't really know how infamous helps me but I do know that it helps me when I am angry with my brother, or they say something like I use mindfulness during my homework and with tests because it helps me do a better job with my homework in my tests, or I use it when I am really upset and feeling reactive, and just a pause before I move forward. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Steve do you have stories for us? STEVEN HICKMAN: We have been running a team in our center for years now and someone said that that I've always had a short fuse and now I have a longer of use, that kind of captured the incidence of what kids talk about. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And finally, Steven, the Center for mindfulness is hosting a conference this week on the subject and I think it begins tomorrow. What is it going to be like? STEVEN HICKMAN: Is an attempt on our part to bring together all the people who are doing this work of teaching mindfulness to youth and crating a community around it this is the third annual offering of this conference of reaching the hearts and minds of youth and it is together a very unique sense where we bring together therapist and physicians who work with kids and teachers and administrators from the educational standing all together in one conference to really share their work and to collaborate and connect it to really move the field forward in general. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We have more information on our website. Let me think my guests who came in to talk with us, thank you very much for coming in.

Parents and educators are always looking for new and exciting ways to enhance the school experience for to help kids deal with the stressors of school life. Some of those methods have been controversial. For instance, last year, the Encinitas School District was sued, over the public school's physical education program when they incorporated yoga. Some parents argued it was a religious practice. The judge disagreed and found in favor of the school district.

Another tool being used by educators, healthcare providers and psychotherapists is a practice called "Mindfulness." It's a type of meditation that involves being still — in the moment, and reflecting instead of reacting to circumstances and people around you. Early research on children finds it helps with attention skills, reduces test anxiety, provides social-emotional awareness and interpersonal skills.

Mindfulness Conference

Bridging the Hearts & Minds of Youth:Mindfulness in Clinical Practice, Education and Research

February 7th-9th

Teaching 'Mindfulness' to children — is the focus of a conference in San Diego next week sponsored by UC San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego's Center for Mindfulness.