Mindfulness-based therapy has exploded in popularity in recent years, as psychologists have recognized that meditation and mindfulness can be used as not only healthy coping skills, but also as a clinical therapeutic approach. While many residential treatment centers offer mindfulness and meditation as part of a weekly schedule, mindfulness and meditation are the foundation of clinical programming at Red Mountain Colorado.
Meditation and mindfulness are strategies used to help struggling teens become more aware of their emotions, gain insight into their unhealthy coping mechanisms, and learn to live in the present while healing from their past.
If you are interested in learning more about how our mindfulness-based program may be a good fit for your teen, this guide is meant to be comprehensive, but as such, not every section will be applicable to everyone. Instead, we invite you to click on the links in the table of contents to jump to the sections that most interest you.
Why Choose a Treatment Center That Offers Meditation and Mindfulness-Based Therapy for Teens?
Your child is going through something that even they may not realize or understand. Stress from bullying or other trauma can overwhelm a child’s mind and body so much so that it leads to impulsivity and other behavioral problems.
Many teens struggle to understand this body-mind connection. Instead, they may become more easily overwhelmed by emotions or focus on uncomfortable physical sensations without connecting it to situations around them. Or, they may focus on the concrete details of stressful life events they’ve experienced without considering the impact it’s had on them personally.
That’s why we do more at Red Mountain Colorado. We leverage a highly specialized mindfulness-based approach to treatment of your teenager, so that your teen can uncover these underlying stressors, understand them and develop more positive thought patterns and behaviors. While other forms of therapy may encourage your teen to challenge these patterns by focusing on how unhealthy they are, mindfulness encourages teens to accept that these patterns have served a purpose and to consider alternate ways to get their needs met.
Meditation therapy for teens is the practice of quietly noticing our thoughts and feelings, and remaining aware and open to the present moment. Mindfulness is the ability to do so while engaged in an activity or interacting with others.
Daily meditation has been proven to offer neuroplasticity benefits and improvements in brain chemistry. If your teen has suffered from trauma or substance use issues, the maturation of their prefrontal cortex, or frontal lobe, may have been stunted, and meditation can aid in its repair. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for making mature decisions, so it is imperative that it is allowed to fully mature, thereby giving your teen the best possible chance of getting better.
The Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness Therapy
Regular meditation therapy and mindfulness practice can help ease your teen’s anxiety that has been brought on by stressful situations and destructive habits. Taking a mindfulness-based approach to treatment can help your teen achieve the following outcomes:
Developing Responsiveness Over Reactivity
Meditation helps us develop a compassionate witness, which establishes a space between stimulus and reaction that gives students more understanding of themselves and ultimately more agency over themselves.
Expanding Our Ability To Be Present With Discomfort
Meditation expands our ability to be present with discomfort. There’s a well known saying that goes, “you have to feel it to heal it”. Practicing meditation allows you to feel present and aware of any uncomfortable feelings within. This is key to breaking away from unhealthy coping behaviors.
Creating A Compassionate, Loving Relationship With Ourselves
Many individuals struggling with negative coping behaviors feel at war with themselves. Meditation allows us to develop and find a place of comfort and deep nourishment on the inside, replacing the external objects of gratification.
Greater Self-Awareness and Self-Control
Meditation and mindfulness will teach your teen to stay in the present moment and acknowledge their thoughts and feelings. In turn, this will help them resist impulsivity and be in more control of their behaviors.
Increased Empathy Towards Others
Your teen’s destructive behaviors have affected you, your family and others around them. Through the practice of meditation and mindfulness, your teen will learn how to manage negative thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns so they can grow in their empathy towards others.
Improved Behavior and School Performance
Research has shown that meditation and mindfulness help adolescents feel calmer, happier and more relaxed. Meditation therapy also improves a child’s ability to stay in the present moment and concentrate. All these improvements in mood and attention will help your teen do better in school and exhibit less aggressive behaviors.
How are Meditation and Mindfulness Used in Residential Treatment?
At Red Mountain Colorado, your teen will begin each day meditating with us as a group, led by one of our staff who are long-time meditation teachers. While many programs only teach meditation once or twice a week, we’ve found that it’s not adequate to achieve the changes we seek for your teen. That’s why we have our students practice meditation therapy and mindfulness every single day.
Mindfulness goes beyond breathing techniques and somatic ways of managing symptoms. During treatment, we will teach your teen the basic tenets of Buddhist meditation:
Caring for others
Recognizing the impermanence of all things
Ability to change
Getting out of your head and into the moment
Not believing all of you “story lines”
Not acting out of anger
These lessons can help teens challenge their anxious thoughts, build social awareness around how their energy can affect others and vice versa, and learn to let go of negative emotions.
At Red Mountain Colorado, both beginners and experienced meditators are welcome. If your teen does not know how to meditate, our staff will teach them this valuable skill. If they are already a practitioner, we can take them even further in their practice.
We will also encourage your teen to expand their meditation practice on their own. Our staff is always available and willing to provide guidance to those who are interested in deepening their practice.
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Meditation Instruction at Red Mountain Colorado
We believe that having trained teachers on site every day is the best way to help your teen successfully learn and practice meditation and mindfulness.
The level of instruction your teen will receive at Red Mountain Colorado is unparalleled. Our co-founders, Maureen White and Josh White, bring a combined 50 years of teen meditation training to their work at Red Mountain Colorado.
Maureen has served as core staff in seven separate month-long meditation retreats and worked in one of the preeminent meditation centers in the world. She has spent a total of two years living residentially in meditation centers and is sanctioned to teach six different styles in a system focusing on making friends with oneself and taming one’s mind.
She is among a selective group qualified to teach the Five Wisdom Energies, a revolutionary system of Tibetan yoga that helps practitioners get in touch with the wisdom inherent in even the most challenging situations and extreme states of mind.
Josh is a Sensei (sanctioned teacher) in the White Plum tradition of Zen meditation, and lived in a meditation center for three years. He completed koan study after 19 years of practice and study and incorporates koans (paradoxical riddles meant to cultivate kindness toward others and an appreciation of the present moment), into his teaching at Red Mountain Colorado.
A long time friend and colleague of Josh’s, our meditation teacher, Paul Gyodo Agostinelli, helps lead daily mindfulness practices in both group and individual settings.
Paul is also the Founder of Eon Zen Center in Boulder, Colorado, and is a Sensei (authorized teacher) in the White Plum Zen tradition. There are three ways students engage in meditation and mindfulness practices:
Daily group mindfulness meditation practice: Students gather together with a meditation leader and are guided through a meditation practice.
Weekly Mindfulness/meditation talks: Talks that introduce the principles of mindfulness and engage students interactively so they get a better understanding of those principles. These talks occur on a weekly basis.
Weekly individual one on one sessions with meditation teachers: Individual sessions allow each student to have personalized guidance in order to help them be present with their feelings and understand the obstacles coming up in their healing process.
Our teen meditation therapy program allows teachers to meet students where they are and we do not force the practice on anyone. For some students, meditation is “one tool in the tool belt,” and for others, it becomes a lifelong practice.
Contact Us Today to Get Started
If you’re worried about your teen’s destructive behaviors and mood swings, meditation and mindfulness therapy can help them overcome what they’re struggling with and bring about an inner peace they’ve never experienced before.
If you’re ready to get your teen the mindfulness-based treatment they need, we’re here to help. Contact our expert team today to get started.
Red Mountain Colorado is a leading residential treatment center for teens ages 13-17, built on the shoulders of some of the most experienced and well-respected individuals in the field of adolescent and young adult treatment.