Applied Mindfulness is interested in transformational change for individuals and at the level of organizational culture. Our training engagements typically begin with a needs assessment, at which time we can assess client needs as well as organizational culture. Based on client’s articulated needs and our assessment we will design an outcome-oriented scope of work prior to beginning service delivery.
Trainings are available in half-day, day-long, and multi-day modules. A daylong module can deepen a single training area or combine two training areas. Customized trainings are also available.
Applied Mindfulness trainings are highly experiential in nature. We create immersive learning environments where theoretical understanding is grounded in experiential practices. The structure of trainings is driven by the inquiry process of the group. Training is therefore not didactic, but responsive to the needs and concerns expressed by the group on a given day.
Mindfulness and Impacts of Technology
How is our relationship with technology impacting our attention, our ability to connect with ourselves and others, and our relationship with the larger world? We will explore aspects of the neurobiology and psychology of our relationship with technology. We will look specifically at screen time, texting, video games, and social media. Where the impacts of technology are negative, how can we strategically counter-act them? What does it mean to create a mindful relationship with technology, and how can we do this?
Mindfulness and Impacts of Technology on the developing brain
Our society is presently engaged in an unprecedented experiment as young people are exposed to an ever-increasing amount of digital technology, through screen time, texting, video games, and social media. A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2012 found that the average American teenager is sending/ receiving 100 texts a day, and spends in excess of 7 hours per day in front of some kind of screen. In this training, we look specifically at how our relationship with technology is impacting young people’s attention, their ability to connect with themselves and others, and their relationship with the larger world. What do we know about the developmental impacts of all of this technology? How is it conditioning and changing ours brains and nervous systems? What do these changes lead towards? And more importantly, how can we strategically counter-act the impacts that are negative? How can we help young people develop healthy and mindful relationships to the technology in their lives? How can we support them in developing healthy connections to self, others, and the natural world?
Mindfulness and Connection 3 Ways
This training explores mentoring young people in connection: to themselves, to each other, and to the natural world. These three concentric circles of connection rely on a foundation in mindful awareness, a tool that allows us to focus our attention in the present moment, in an intentional, non-judgmental way. Through the process of bringing mindful awareness to our own internal experience, to our experience of relationships with others, and to our experience of the natural world, we can explore each of these dimensions, get to know them more deeply, and come to feel connected to them. This training will explore concrete tools and develop participants’ skillfulness around mentoring connection.
Mindfulness and Self-Care
Being able to intentionally evoke the relaxation response is one of the most beneficial things we can do to support our own wellbeing. Especially in these politically challenging and distressing times, self-care skills are essential to maintaining our balance. So how do we learn to take better care of ourselves? In this training, we will discover why the stress response just happens, while the relaxation response needs to be cultivated. We’ll deeply explore engaging the relaxation response, to help us cultivate resilience at the level of the nervous system. We will engage in a variety of movement and mindfulness practices to support integration and well-being, and learn how to tailor these awareness practices to the present moment state of our nervous system, increasing their effectiveness in supporting our internal equilibrium. In addition, we will learn about the neurobiology of habit formation, and practice tools for developing new habits. We’ll also explore core beliefs around self-care, and develop a concrete self-care plan. This training is highly experiential, and you should end the day feeling significantly better than when you started, empowered with tools to support lasting change in you and those you serve.
Would it help you to be more centered, calm, and clear at work and in life? Learn to center the body and mind in present moment awareness for greater equilibrium, stress reduction, and effectiveness in the workplace. Awareness Training (mindfulness) is the practice of bringing attention to the present moment: to the direct experience of what is happening 'right now'– in a particular way, on purpose, and without judgment. It is the practice of dropping beneath the ‘thinking mind’ into a more direct experience of our feelings and our bodies. This practice of non-judgmental awareness represents a radical shift in how most people are paying attention, and in how they are experiencing the moment-to-moment unfolding of their lives. Practicing mindful awareness is the practice of training attention, and it forms a foundation for a new way to relate to our experience, and the experience of others. This experience is less reactive, less caught up in ‘doing’ and in ‘fixing’, and less likely to get locked into fixed afflictive patterns. The sustained practice of mindful awareness has been extensively documented to transform the information processing structures of the brain and to have documented positive effects on a variety of physiological, emotional, and cognitive functions. This training will emphasize experiential practice of basic mindfulness, as well as addressing the context in which the modern mindfulness movement has developed, including key research.
Teaching Mindfulness to Youth
How can we teach mindful awareness to young people in a way that is safe, accessible, and relevant to their lives and experiences? In this training we’ll focus on modifying mindfulness practices for use with young people, and particularly those with trauma exposure. We’ll practice simple sequential exercises for helping young people develop the foundations of self-awareness in an environment of safety, respect for self and others, and deep inquiry. Our inquiry will move through four stages. First, we’ll look at foundations of mindfulness- those skills and practices that are beneficial to integrate before the formal introduction of mindfulness. Then we’ll look at basic mindfulness, specifically through the lens of paying attention. We’ll subsequently look at applying that mindfulness to the body and to emotions. Finally, we'll look at relationships: with others, and the natural world. We’ll explore why young people might want to learn mindfulness, and learn to deliver it in terminology and with metaphor relevant to the experience of young people.
Mindfulness in the Classroom
This training is an experiential introduction to the practice of mindfulness and its application in the classroom. The training first addresses the context in which the modern mindfulness movement has developed, including key research, as well as what it takes to get stake-holder buy-in around utilizing mindfulness in the classroom. The training then explores experiential practice of basic mindfulness, as well as a variety of classroom interventions that can support teachers incorporating mindfulness into their classroom routines. It explores what it means for mindfulness practices to be ‘trauma-informed.’ It articulates benefits of mindfulness for both teachers/ clinicians and the students, and begins to examine what it means for teachers/ clinicians to embody a stance of mindful awareness.
Mindfulness and Trauma
While mindfulness can be a support to trauma recovery, certain aspects of mindfulness practice may be counter-productive for those with exposure to trauma, or simply ineffective. For example, most traditional formal mindfulness practices first encourage a person to sit still and close their eyes. For someone carrying a heavy trauma load, this directive takes away their ability to self-regulate through unconscious motor movement, and will most likely put them in closer touch with an experience of dys-regulation. So how do we re-invent, or adapt mindfulness practice so that it supports a person with trauma exposure, rather than challenging their system? In this training we’ll explore the physiology of trauma, and how it shows up in the body, behavior, and subjective experience of the client. We’ll then develop a model of mindfulness intervention based on responsiveness to the present moment state of a client’s nervous system, taking into account their exposure to trauma and how this may manifest moment-to-moment. We’ll explore which practices are generally supportive for those with trauma exposure, and how to tailor practices to meet client’s needs when they are in fight/ flight/ or freeze responses. We’ll also examine how trauma in clients impacts the experience of caregivers, and explore measures caregivers can take to help themselves maintain wellbeing and resilience when working with trauma in others.
Don’t Believe Everything You Think
A principal goal of mindfulness training is to help us liberate ourselves from the belief that we are our thoughts. How can we learn to treat thoughts simply as an activity of the mind? Mindfulness teacher Jack Kornfield has said that the mind generates thoughts the way the salivary glands generate saliva. How do we move into an observer relationship with our thoughts, and what are the benefits of doing this? What kind of freedom are we able to access when we begin to see our thoughts as just thoughts rather than the truth? This training should be particularly valuable for those who have a hard time ‘getting out of their heads’.
Somatic and Emotional Self-Awareness
In our highly ‘thinking-oriented’ culture, it is rare for people to have clear, stable, moment-to-moment contact with their body sensations and emotions as they are happening. Yet in feeling is our direct contact with experience, and an immeasurable source of information and intelligence. In many indigenous and traditional cultures around the world, this is in fact the primary way of knowing. This way of knowing is present-moment centered, directly engaged, and of infinite scope. It is always available to us. It conveys information of a type, density, and texture not available through discursive thought. It connects us to ourselves, to one another, and to nature. Its vocabulary is embodied experience; its logic is of the heart. It is an antidote to the separation, disconnection, and violence of the modern world. And this intelligence can be developed. This training explores ways to open more to the intelligence of the body and the intelligence of feeling, and to feel more accurately. Through awareness training and interpersonal practices, we’ll expand our contact with our own somatic and emotional self-awareness and its integration into our decision-making. This can be an invaluable support in our decision-making, self-knowledge, and therapeutic relationships.
FIGHT/ FLIGHT/ FREEZE: THE IMPORTANCE OF SAFETY AND CONTINUUM OF THREAT
How come some people respond to threat by getting aggressive, whereas others totally shut down, and others try to get away? Stephen Porges landmark Polyvagal Theory may well be the most important revisioning of our understanding of the autonomic nervous system that has emerged in the last 50 years. It provides a new map of the way that the mammalian nervous system regulates social engagement and threat states, including fight/ flight and freeze states. It provides an elegant description of the range of behaviors that are available to us depending on how safe or unsafe we feel. Porges' ground-breaking insights involve the recognition of a parasympathetic nervous system with not one, but two distinct branches: one recently evolved, a social engagement nervous system that emerges in mammals and provides fine- tuning regulation of the heart and supports calm affective states, and one ancient, a dorsal vagal system of extreme energy conservation, that is activated as a system of last resort in perceived or actual life threat. The theory can give us insight into a broad range of client behavior, and has profound clinical implications, suggesting that we tailor our interventions to the current state of the client’s nervous system for maximum benefit. In this training we’ll examine the theory itself, what it implies about how we intervene, and how to intervene more skillfully.
Humans are an expression of nature at the deepest level, and until the last several hundred years we always lived deeply embedded in natural cycles- day and night, seasons, weather. It is only recently, as human civilization has become more ‘advanced’ that we’ve begun to separate ourselves from these natural cycles. At this time in history, most western people spend most of their time in a temperature-controlled box- either at home, at work, or in the car. Yet because of our unique evolutionary inheritance, we carry nature within us all the time, whether we recognize it or not, and our own internal dysregulation can be a pointer to the fact that we are out of balance with our own nature. Research continues to demonstrate the beneficial effects of exposure to nature, and the detrimental effects of its lack. Many young people have been raised in environments with restricted or negligible access to nature. These trainings are focused on utilizing the presence of nature to support wellbeing. They help participants develop an attuned relationship with the natural world, with the twin goals of being able to access greater wellbeing through the orienting rhythmicity of the natural world and mindful awareness of season, weather, light, landscape, plants, and animal life; and to help participants develop ways to introduce and include nature awareness programming in their work with young people.