Dr. Amy Saltzman, author of A Still Quiet Place for Teens, presents valuable information on mindfulness in an eight-week format where teens are encouraged to read and practice each exercise for one week prior to moving onto the next section. The book presents sections on finding focus, facing challenges, improving relationships, and living a happier life. The exercises and ideas presented build on each other and Dr. Saltzman suggests teens complete the exercises in order.
The reader is given access to register online to download recorded practices and listen to each practice as needed. The registration also includes downloadable worksheets and video files. The sign up and registration are simple and easy to navigate. I found the audio downloads soothing and pleasant to listen to, even though they were a bit different from the written text.
The concepts and exercises are easy to use and understand, and are practical for everyday use. The book is divided into four sections where basic mindfulness concepts are discussed. Then the actual mindful practice is introduced with step-by-step instructions and reflections where readers explore their experiences.
For example, in the activity “How Did It Feel to Watch Your Thoughts?” readers practice bringing kindness and curiosity to the process of thinking and noticing. In the Reflection section, readers are asked questions such as, were you able to watch your thoughts come and go?, what percentage of thoughts were kind, unkind, or neutral?, and what percent of your thoughts would you say were true? These can be powerful questions to reflect on because they can show how each of your thoughts shape how you feel about yourself and the world around you.
In the section on stress and placing ourselves into boxes, Dr. Saltzman presents information about how these boxes can create stress. For example, it is easy to see how negative or unkind boxes, such as I’m ugly or I’m stupid, can create stress. Further activities encourage the reader to take a moment to consider the boxes that we put others into, such as parents or adults in the family, siblings, teachers, and friends. Dr. Saltzman reminds us that we are more than the boxes we or anyone else puts us into, and we can choose whether to believe the thoughts that come into our minds.
Emotions do not simply disappear. If feelings are not acknowledged and released, they are stored in our minds and become part of our physical make-up. With children, feelings that become stored and “stuffed” become activators for negative behaviors. Dr. Saltzman emphasizes that mindfulness doesn’t mean peace and calmness, but simply being aware of whatever is happening in the here and now. For example, if your mind is bored, your body exhausted, and your mood excited and you are aware of this experience, you are being mindful.
The book emphasizes that being aware of our thoughts is a powerful tool and incorporating mindfulness activities into our daily practice can strengthen the mind. Self-management techniques reduce an adolescent’s pain, anxiety, anger, and can give the adolescent an increased sense of control over self and challenging circumstances.
Relaxation involves a distinct physiological state that is the opposite of the way our body feels and reacts under stress and tension; and relaxation is incompatible with stress. The physiological responses found in the state of relaxation are the opposite of those found in the fight or flight response: heart rate and blood pressure drop; breathing rate decreases; muscle tension decreases.
So it’s important to find the right technique for each individual, but Dr. Saltzman’s book is a wonderful resource for teens to use to begin the process of being in the here and now and slowing down their minds and bodies. The book is also a great resource for educators, counselors, and parents, and can be utilized in group therapy.
A Still Quiet Place for Teens: A Mindfulness Workbook to Ease Stress & Difficult Emotions
Instant Help Books, March 2016
Paperback, 168 Pages