Youth Services Agency, (YSA)

Mindfulness: Developing Practices that Benefit for a Lifetime

Our minds are constantly working. Research shows that the average person has more than 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day (Davis) or about 35-48 thoughts per minute! Imagine if we payed attention to, or acted on each thought we had, not only would we be overwhelmed, but everyday tasks would become more difficult and almost impossible. Interestingly, “nearly 50% of our awake life is spent mind-wandering. However research has demonstrated that, lower levels of happiness, possibly through pathological forms of self-referential thought focused on the past or future, such as rumination or worry is associated with a wandering mind (Marusak).

With regular mindfulness practice, youth can control wandering thoughts, decrease anxiety, depression, maladaptive behaviors, and impulsive behaviors (Marusak) and can develop new habits and healthier ways of thinking or dealing with their emotions. This “rewiring” of the brain is known as neuroplasticity. Students at YSA’s ACT residential program learn that through mindfulness practice they can gain control over the dysfunctional thoughts that contribute to their anxiety, depression, impulsivity, etc. Being present in the moment, focusing on breathing, labeling thoughts as they enter the mind, and letting thoughts go are tools we all can use throughout our lives no matter the situation.

Failing to let go of certain thoughts can cause a youth to spiral into a depressed or anxious state or react impulsively with disruptive behaviors. We routinely work with adolescents who meet their need for power and control by sabotaging relationships and sacrificing values that are important to them.

Our rustic therapeutic milieu provides a safe environment to practice mindfulness with instant feedback and support. Mindfulness practice is incorporated into our regular routine. Therapists utilize a variety of assignments and tools to assist students in becoming more aware of how the body connects with the mind. At YSA, we teach students how to take power and control over their thoughts, feelings, and emotions so they can nourish healthy relationships and decrease their destructive, impulsive behaviors.

 References:
Brain HQ, 2015. https://www.brainhq.com/brain-resources/brain-plasticity/what-is-brain-plasticity
Davis, Bruce. (2013).There Are 50,000 Thoughts Standing Between You and Your Partner Every Day. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-davis-phd/healthy-relationships_b_3307916.html
Marusak, H. A., Elrahal, F., Peters, C. A., Kundu, P., Lombardo, M. V., Calhoun, V. D., . . . Rabinak, C. A. (2018). Mindfulness and dynamic functional neural connectivity in children and adolescents. Behavioural Brain Research, 336, 211-218.