Upcoming Conferences: Omega & Johns Hopkins

It’s hard to believe August is almost over and we’re heading into the 2014-2015 school year!

WELCOME BACK TO SCHOOL to all the educators and students out there!

We’ve had a whirlwind summer at Mindful Schools. Our Program Team has just returned from leading four back-to-back Year-Long Certification trainings in California, New York, and Europe. Whew!!

We receive requests throughout the year from local schools and organizations inquiring about our speaker availability. While we can’t accommodate many of these requests due to our busy training schedule, we have three exciting, upcoming in-person engagements to share with you!

Scroll down or click the links above for details on these upcoming conferences and events.

And of course, you can always learn mindfulness and teach youth - from anywhere you are in the world – through our online training courses, which are available year round.

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Omega Women & Power
September 19-21, 2014
Rhinebeck, NY

Vinny Ferraro will be speaking at the upcoming Women & Power Conference in Rhinebeck, NY.

About Vinny:
Vinny Ferraro, Senior Trainer at Mindful Schools and a cast member of MTV’s If You Really Knew Me, is a long-time mindfulness practitioner and instructor and a nationally recognized leader in designing and implementing interventions for at-risk adolescents. [Read more]

About the Conference:
These are exciting, shifting, and confusing times for women and men—in our individual lives, our relationships, the roles we fill, and the expectations we encounter at home, work, and in the world every day. This conference is a wide-open exploration of how to live, love, and work together as whole human beings, and an opportunity for fresh and bold conversations. [Learn more]

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Mindfulness and Learning
September 29, 2014
Baltimore, Maryland

Program Director Chris McKenna will be joining Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD (University of Massachusetts Medical School), Timothy Ryan (U.S. Representative for the 13th District of Ohio), Richard Davidson, PhD (Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison) and others at the first Mindfulness and Learning Conference at Johns Hopkins University. [Learn more]

Listen to a recent interview with Chris McKenna on integrating mindfulness into education. [Listen]

Thank you for all your ongoing support and we look forward to seeing you this year … whether online or in-person!

Warmly,
- The Mindful Schools Team

October Curriculum Training in New York!

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Mindful Schools Curriculum Training
October 17 – 19, 2014
New York, New York

“The New York training was beyond words! It has renewed my hope in education.”
~ NY-CT Course Graduate

Learn mindfulness, teach youth. Sign up online or in-person!

Vinny Ferraro, Chris McKenna, and Megan Cowan will be in NYC this October for our last in-person Curriculum Training (CT) this year, and we’d love to see you and your colleagues there!

Learn the basics of mindfulness in education, the neuroscience behind it, and how to implement our research-backed K-12 curriculum with youth.

Our in-person classes fill up on a first-come, first-serve basis and typically have a waiting list.

Register early to reserve your spot!

Location:
University Settlement
184 Eldridge Street
Speyer Hall

CT-Instructors

Faculty:
The instructors for this training are Vinny Ferraro, Chris McKenna, and Megan Cowan. They have over 40 years of combined mindfulness practice and over 30 years of teaching mindfulness and/or emotional intelligence to children and adolescents, as well as experience training many thousands of adults. Their work is featured in documentary films Healthy Habits of Mind and Room to Breathe.

CEUs:
We offer CEUs, scholarships, and group discounts for all courses. Educators can receive up to 3 CEU credits for this course. Click here for more information.

We award diversity and need-based scholarships on a rolling basis. Register early to secure financial assistance.

Prerequisites:
Mindfulness Fundamentals is the prerequisite to our Curriculum Training Course. Learn more about Mindfulness Fundamentals here or exceptions to this prerequisite here.

Sign up: CT-NY October 2014

Additional questions about our courses? Checkout our training FAQ or email training@mindfulschools.org.

We look forward to seeing you there!

- The Mindful Schools Team

Mindful Schools has a new team member!!

We are thrilled to announce that Matthew Brensilver is now the Course Manager for our online Mindfulness Fundamentals and Curriculum Training courses. If you’ve taken a course with Matthew as the teacher, this will come as no surprise. His ability to guide and lead mindfulness practice through our online community has been incredible. We’re so lucky to have him on our team.

In one student’s heartfelt words:

I honestly can’t say enough positive things about you, Matthew … You’ve set an impossibly high bar for any other online course I take!! – Mindfulness Fundamentals course graduate

Along with Matthew’s history of exceptional teaching at Mindful Schools over the last year, Matthew Brensilver, PhD, holds a master’s degree in clinical social work and has done psychotherapy with adolescents, adults, and groups. He received a PhD from USC, where his research investigated depression among at-risk youth. Currently, Matthew collaborates on addiction research at the UCLA Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine. He also teaches at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center on the intersection of mindfulness and psychotherapy.

We recently asked Matthew a few questions to formally initiate him onto the team.

How did you come to mindfulness in your own life?

MB: I had a high school friend who practiced mindfulness and I remember thinking, “she knows something I don’t know!” Honestly, it kind of freaked me out, but it made me curious. That was my first encounter. Years later I was living in LA and two roommates were practitioners. One evening after a long day at work, I barreled into the apartment in an unconscious and mindless way, only to find a group of people quietly doing mindfulness practice. I did a little practice and quickly discovered that my attention was all over the place. My mind was like a circus gone wrong! But I just couldn’t look away. I thought to myself: This needs my urgent attention. Have I been living with this? Is this what goes on in consciousness? From there, it felt natural to continue with the practice and my commitment grew steadily.

How have students found the Mindfulness Fundamentals [MF] online course?

MB: There’s a range of how people engage with the MF course. Some people find that it’s really helpful for managing the stress of modern life. A surprising number of people quickly sense the radical potentials of mindfulness practice. People realize both how intense it is to be human and how much we tend to underestimate the capacities of our own hearts. What’s most gratifying is that in just 6 weeks, people develop a sense of settling into the present moment and this opens the possibility of new ways of meeting the experience of our lives.

What are you looking forward to in your role?

MB: There are a lot of people that have not had easy access to clear mindfulness instructions. Although I don’t believe the practice is a panacea, there are a substantial number of people for whom the practice can be transformational – so, the broader dissemination of mindfulness is very promising to me. It is beautiful to witness the dawning of insight that unfolds in each MF class – people understand that it’s possible to be more free than they’ve imagined. It is very touching to witness this. I’ve seen that a lot over the years of teaching, but it’s only become more poignant over time. Part of the promise of Mindful Schools is that it’s an organization being run by people who know the depths of practice and are committed to articulating this in a way that’s consistent with the emerging scientific understanding of flourishing. I’m very happy to be part of the team.

How to get started.

20140321_182034_crop2‘I have to tell you HOW MUCH I am getting out of Mindfulness Fundamentals. I am ashamed that I thought I didn’t need it! It doesn’t matter how long one has practiced meditation. This course is so valuable and offers so much knowledge and practices for dealing with so many things. Your staff was very, very wise to insist that everyone take this course before doing the Year-Long Certification. I have learned so much and I’m still in week 4 of 6. Thank your staff for insisting that I take it!’
Ellen T., School Counselor, Maryland

Educators like Ellen often come to us wondering how to get started with Mindful Schools.

We currently offer three courses that build the foundation for integrating mindfulness into education. The first course is Mindfulness Fundamentals, the second is our Curriculum Training, and the third is our Year-Long Certification. The first class in this series, Mindfulness Fundamentals [MF] is a basic course in mindfulness. The other two courses build on that foundation by teaching you how to integrate mindfulness practice with youth.

In the six-week online Mindfulness Fundamentals course, you will learn the basics of mindfulness meditation including work around breath, body, movement, emotions, gratitude, and compassion. We recommend Mindfulness Fundamentals as a starting point for, well, everyone really. If you are interested in integrating mindfulness with youth, it is a prerequisite to our other courses. If you are simply interested in integrating mindfulness into your own practice or life, it is the perfect place to start. In fact, over 97% of our 2014 online MF course graduates and over 98% of our most recent graduating class would recommend this course to a friend! Thanks to you, we keep getting better.

Adults with no mindfulness practice and those with decades of practice both find the MF course extremely valuable and worthwhile. The course introduces a language and vernacular that is used throughout our other courses. We also fundamentally believe that in order to teach mindfulness to youth, you must first practice it yourself in the same way that you must learn and practice math or english in order to teach it to others. Ready to go?

Check out these helpful resources:
Meet our instructors
Frequently asked questions
Course Sign up

What 2014 graduates are saying about this course:

‘This is a very solid foundations course to help establish a Mindfulness practice. I would recommend it to other teachers at my school.’

‘I found the way the course was run was excellent. I enjoyed how the content progresses naturally week to week. The interaction with other people from all over the world was for me very exciting. The resources and printouts are excellent and easy to read. The course has been the start of a new adventure for me as I now have the thirst for more mindfulness study.’

‘I have learned a lot from other participants’ responses and some of the recommendations they’ve made. Hearing other people talk so honestly about what’s going on with them has been a big part of what made this course so special. I would not have thought it could happen in such a short time (or at all), but it did, and not in some cheesy “let’s say what the teacher wants us to say and show everyone how much we know” way. It was super honest. Very special and somewhat unique, I think.’

The Nueva School Innovative Learning Conference: Megan Cowan on Mindfulness in Education

beautiful talk by Megan Cowan, Co-founder and Program Director, on the tremendous opportunities as well as the potential pitfalls of bringing mindfulness into the classroom.

‘Mindfulness is one way of inserting the pause …’ [Watch complete presentation]

Filmed at The Nueva School 2013 Innovative Learning Conference

Our children, Our parents, Our teachers

We are so moved and grateful to hear stories like this.

This one comes from a parent in Washington state whose child learned about mindfulness in her kindergarten class. And then brought it home.

Thank you Ms. Sivie!

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Chris McKenna, ‘Taking Tension Out of Attention’

‘Thanks to computers, smartphones, television, and other technology, our senses are extremely busy. The more our bodies strain to pay attention, the more our minds space-out. Chris McKenna suggests ways to help us go from tense and strained to relaxed and focused.’

Read about (and practice!) three powerful, attention-honing tools from Chris McKenna, one of our Program Directors, in this month’s Mindful Magazine.

Mindful Magazine: ‘Taking Tension Out of Attention’ (June 2014)

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Senior Trainer Vinny Ferraro Speaking on Love

IMG_2584Image courtesy of Terrizzi, Year-Long Certification

Senior Trainer Vinny Ferraro gave a beautiful talk Tuesday night as a guest speaker for James Baraz’s lecture series, Awakening Joy.

James, a leading teacher in the field, defines mindfulness as ‘simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).”

He writes about Mindful Schools in his best seller, Awakening Joy:

Vinny spoke specifically about ‘What gets in the way of love?’ He moved a crowd of several hundred adults and caregivers with another 1,000 or so tuning in online.

He spoke of wisdom from many of the greats – Twain, Hesse, Merton – but woven together in some of his own words:

I want to welcome all of you. This practice is a radical invitation to the whole of us.

On ‘not withholding love from myself, till I act right.’ This kind of emotional extortion has never made people act right, it’s just not an effective strategy. No one has ever hated themselves into becoming a better person. This inclination we have which sounds like “if only” takes us out of the present moment, which is the only place freedom is actually possible.

Don’t postpone arriving. It’s hard because we were conditioned to always think some other moment is going to contain what this one doesn’t. ‘All you need is already within you, only you must approach your self with reverence and love. Self-condemnation and self-distrust are grievous errors. Your constant flight from pain and search for pleasure is a sign of love you bear for your self, all I plead with you is this: make love of your self perfect. Deny yourself nothing — glue your self infinity and eternity and discover that you do not need them; you are beyond.’ (Nisargadatta Maharaj)

We make love of ourselves perfect, not ourselves perfect; this is an important distinction. I don’t know about you, but when I look back on my life, the moments I needed love the most, were the times when I felt the most unlovable. So what if you cared for yourself, like you take care of the ones you love? Like that, just loving them, even when/if they’re grouchy, sensitive, uptight, tired. Because it’s easy to love somebody when they’re being lovable, that ain’t love, that’s common sense.

When we love what’s hard to love, that’s what makes you a great lover. ‘Loving yourself…does not mean being self-absorbed or narcissistic, or disregarding others. Rather it means welcoming yourself as the most honored guest in your own heart, a guest worthy of respect, a lovable companion.’ (Margo Anand)

Vinny will be teaching in person at our upcoming Mindful Schools retreat in Petaluma (May 2-4) and ongoing through our online courses and trainings.

We’ll meet you there.

More about Vinny:
Vinny Ferraro is a long-time mindfulness practitioner and instructor and a nationally recognized leader in designing and implementing interventions for at-risk adolescents. The child of an incarcerated father, Vinny spent the majority of his teenage life hustling and living on the streets. In 1987, after recovering from drug addiction, he began leading youth groups in drug rehabilitation centers, juvenile halls, schools and halfway houses … [Read more]

Recent press: Glimpse: How Meditation Helps With Difficult Emotions, Mindful

‘Stand Up!’ with Pete Dominick on SiriusXM

Pete Dominick interviews Megan Cowan our Co-Founder and Program Director on mindfulness.
Listen now and hear why Pete started picking up his dirty laundry … 

Meet Joanie: Educator at PS 126, Chinatown, NY

We’re excited to introduce a new blog series featuring our Mindful Schools community members. This week we spoke to Joanie Terrizzi. Joanie is an educator at a low-income school in Chinatown, NY. She reaches 840 students, pre-K through 8th grade, each week.

She is part of our first Year-Long Certification class, where she is receiving in-depth training in bringing mindfulness to youth. The program includes retreat practice, online instruction, and small group mentorship over a 12 month period.

For practitioners like Joanie, Mindful Schools is proud to offer scholarships to applicants who work in public schools, agency environments, or serve high-risk populations. We’re currently accepting applications for the 2014-15 Year-Long Certification program. Learn more.

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April 2014
Mindful Schools Interview with Joanie Terrizzi
School Librarian, PS 126/Manhattan Academy of Technology
Chinatown – New York, NY

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Year-Long Certification 2013-14 images courtesy of Joanie Terrizzi

MS: Tell us a little bit about your experience with the Year-Long Certification training. What has it been like for you?

JT: It has been the most incredible opportunity of my teaching career. Through this experience it feels like everything has changed but there’s nothing about my life that’s changed externally – everything is as fast-paced and challenging as ever… My life hasn’t changed, I have changed. The difference is internal, and I know it’s because of the work and the support of Mindful Schools.

MS: Were there specific moments in your training that stand out for you?

JT: I think it’s really been a combination of everything … one thing that’s been the most meaningful to me is the genuine connection with other participants – all over the country and the world – and other people doing this work in general, finding meaning with others in what I find meaningful. Somehow even when I get behind in my training homework I feel really connected with the community and the work that everyone’s doing. It’s been really rewarding to build relationships around bringing mindfulness to our youth.  I’ve been inspired, cheered on, and lifted up by these colleagues-turned-friends, and have had the opportunity to be supportive to others in their deeply human moments.

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Year-Long Certification 2013-14 images courtesy of Joanie Terrizzi

MS: You mentioned: ‘It’s you who has changed.’ Can you talk about that a little more?

JT: Just sticking with this work and really going in and embodying the practice, day after day after day; it’s one of these aggregate things. My whole mind is a different place than it used to be and based on feedback from many others in my life, this fact is truly noticeable. My whole approach is really different in a very good way – the way I see, the way I respond, how much less reactive I am… I’m a very different person than I was a year ago and I know I owe it to all of the mindfulness I’ve been doing. It’s my ability to REALLY go with whatever moment is happening. I work with 840 kids and 82 staff members. There is a lot that comes at me in a given day. There are a lot of challenges in education in general: a lot of non-stop, shifting gears. I can see that my skill level in so many areas has totally transformed.  Here’s how I recently described it:

When mindfulness takes over your teaching: It’s that moment, with that child who knows just how to wriggle his way under your skin, the one who can derail your entire lesson, the one so dis-regulated that she spins into a torrential tantrum over the seemingly-nothing … and you’re up there in front of twenty-some-odd young pairs of eyes trusting you to “fix” things, and you’re feeling so triggered. You feel that familiar prickly-hot feeling rising, and you open your mouth (the one that sometimes betrays you and lets the words out too harshly, the one that gets so FRUSTRATED by the things beyond your control in children’s lives, the one that just wants to finish your sentence) … and out pours soft words and sweetness, compassion you can almost taste … and you look around, almost wondering where it came from, and you find yourself smiling at a child you thought of mostly as a challenge, mirroring her look of surprise that you didn’t just reprimand her. Instead, you managed to make a light thing of his behavior, a thing that made them all smile – you navigated a tricky moment, and swooped the attention of the class back around to you, like a dance almost – and it all comes out so genuine, so natural, with no ‘trying’ – and sure it doesn’t happen all the time, but like a good friend you haven’t seen in a while, it comes to visit more and more and more often. That’s what it feels like: like opening your mouth and your best self shows up to talk.

That’s really how it feels. There are still moments when I’m quite triggered, but there are so many moments where I open my mouth and something unexpected and delightful comes out. Lately, it just comes out right. It’s quite natural.

“Let Shawn, one of my 1st graders, teach you about the parts of the brain. I taught this lesson once, and Shawn got up immediately and taught it back to his class – I was SO proud and SO delighted. At this point, most of my 1st-5th graders have this languaging down, and it has had dramatic results on our interactions. Grateful, Grateful to Mindful Schools.”

Year-Long Certification 2013-14 video courtesy of Joanie Terrizzi

MS: We’ve talked about your personal practice and how much of an impact that’s had on your approach to teaching. If we can shift now and talk about implementing the lessons and how that’s going …

JT: I’ve been lucky to be very supported by my administration in this. I’ve fully integrated it into the library curriculum. I’m in a pre-K through 8 school in a very low-income neighborhood in New York City’s Chinatown. Grades 1-5 receive the Mindful Schools curriculum on a weekly basis. I do some mindful games but not the full curriculum with PreK and Kindergarten; I have one class of 7th graders and some individual students that I have also recently started offering mindfulness to. I am delivering the curriculum and also trying to bring it to other teachers. It’s been going really well and has transformed the climate and language in the library completely. I was pleasantly surprised how, from the beginning, it landed really well with the kids.

MS: You’ve sent us a video clip [above] of one of your first grade students, Shawn, giving a lesson back to the class. Tell us about that.

JT: That morning I watched a video of Megan [Mindful Schools Co- founder and Program Director] giving the same lesson and I decided I was going to teach it. I taught it and then I pointed to our brain picture and I asked the first graders, ‘Can anyone teach this back to us?’ I didn’t expect first graders would be able to, but I was curious and open-minded about it. Then Shawn just got up and taught it flawlessly. You can hear the other kids in the background getting excited and being supportive. Shawn’s mom is really proud and was so happy to give additional support and share the video with others. And Shawn loves it. He loves talking about the brain. And the kids really remember it. I have a drawing of it now that I keep to the side and I try to reference it with each class every time they come. I’ll point to it and say something like ‘Is that your amygdala taking over right now?’ or ‘You might use your hippocampus to remember when we…’ They get it, they love it, and are really empowered by it.

MS: Any other breakthrough moments that come to mind with the students and the MS curriculum?

JT: There have been moments when I’ve had second graders cry tears of happiness during the mindful breathing which just blows my mind. I’ve been able to talk kids down from pretty activated or angered states. I had a student try to leave the room and another student said ‘Hey, that’s your amygdala telling you to leave; don’t listen to it!’ I have another student who every time he gets frustrated he gets up and tries to leave the situation and I tell him the same thing – he’s starting to get it. A second grader just told me today:

“Yesterday when I was sleeping, I looked on top of my bed for my mom, it’s a bunk bed, and my mom wasn’t there and little tears came out of my eyes, and I used my mindful breathing and I knew my mom would say that I’m a Big Girl.  And so then I fell asleep.  I’m going to rub my eyes now.” I said: “It’s okay, you can rub your eyes.”  She continued: “I’m just rubbing my eyes.  I’m not crying.  Stop it, water!”

The last thing, and the most important thing that I want to say is that I’m just so tremendously grateful.

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Year-Long Certification 2013-14 images courtesy of Joanie Terrizzi