Learning to Breathe
Disruptive behavior in the classroom, poor academic performance, out-of-control emotions: if you work with adolescents, you are well-aware of the challenges this age group presents. What if there was a way to calm these students down and arm them with the mindfulness skills needed to really excel in school and life?
Written by mindfulness expert and licensed clinical psychologist Patricia C. Broderick, Learning to Breathe is a secular program that tailors the teaching of mindfulness to the developmental needs of adolescents to help them understand their thoughts and feelings and manage distressing emotions. Students will be empowered by learning important mindfulness meditation skills that help them improve emotion regulation, reduce stress, improve overall performance, and, perhaps most importantly, develop their attention. The book also includes a website link with student handouts and homework assignments, making it an ideal classroom tool.
The book integrates certain themes of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, into a program that is shorter, more accessible to students, and compatible with school curricula. Students will learn to pay attention in the moment, manage emotions as they are perceived, and gain greater control over their own feelings and actions. These mindfulness practices offer the opportunity to develop hardiness in the face of uncomfortable feelings that otherwise might provoke a response that could be harmful (e.g. acting out by taking drugs, displaying violent behavior or acting in by becoming more depressed).
This easy-to-use manual is designed to be used by teachers, but can also be used by any mental health provider teaching adolescents emotion regulation, stress reduction and mindfulness skills. The author is a graduate of the MBSR advanced practicum at the Center for Mindfulness in Massachusetts, led by Jon Kabat-Zinn. She is also a clinical psychologist and a certified school psychologist and counselor for grades K-12. In the book, Broderick calls on her years of experience working with adolescents to outline the best strategies for dealing with disruption in the classroom and emotions that are out of hand.
The book is structured around six themes built upon the acronym BREATHE, and each theme has a core message. The program allows for themes to be delivered in 6 longer or 18 shorter sessions, depending upon time and needs of students. The 6 core lessons are: Body, Reflection, Emotions, Attention, Tenderness, and Healthy Mind Habits.
Learning to Breathe is the perfect tool for empowering students as they grapple with the psychological tasks of adolescence.
- “I have had an opportunity to use the BREATHE program with a cohort of first semester college undergraduates. The move to college creates unique challenges, and the BREATHE program, which can be adapted for this population, provides powerful tools to help emerging adults manage this transition. Learning the basics of mindfulness, strengthening emotion recognition and emotion management skills, and developing compassion for self and others, are all extremely important skills for college students. . . . As Broderick writes, `there is a difference between knowing about emotions and knowing your own emotions as they are experienced.' The BREATHE program allows this distinction to emerge brilliantly.”
-Sandra Kerr, PhD, professor in the department of psychology, West Chester University, PA
- “Learning to Breathe is an invaluable resource for those looking to share mindfulness with adolescents. Broderick has carefully crafted a professional and wonderfully straightforward mindfulness curriculum that can be used in a variety of settings. Highly recommended!”
-Doug Worthen, mindfulness teacher at the Middlesex School in Concord, MA
- “Learning to Breathe couldn't have come at a better time! Educators are seeking new ways of meeting a rising tide of societal challenges. Compelling new research supports the benefits of learning a mindfulness practice. With a focus on adolescents, Broderick has intelligently created a flexible mindfulness curriculum that is user-friendly, evidence-based, and age-appropriate. Through this achievement she offers the opportunity to `experience burgeoning self-awareness, self-regulation, and the emotional balance that supports fully engaged learning and well-being.' Ideally, all schools would teach these practices.”
-Marilyn Webb Neagley, education consultant, coeditor of Educating from the Heart, and author of Walking through the Seasons
- “Engaging, varied, and user-friendly lessons make this an essential resource for any educator who wishes to bring mindfulness into the curriculum. From theory to practice, this guide provides teachers with the necessary information to make mindfulness come to life in their classrooms and in the lives of their students. A must-have for all those committed to the social and emotional health of adolescents.”
-Karen Bluth, research fellow at the Program of Integrative Medicine at the School of Medicine at University of North Carolina, NC
- “Learning to Breathe is an extraordinary curriculum, grounded in a deep understanding of adolescent learning, adolescent growth, and the daily experience of adolescent life. The brilliant design of the BREATHE program provides teachers with ease in implementation and flexibility to adapt for the uniqueness of each class, while at the same time providing the quintessential elements of mindfulness-based well-being in each lesson. Educators and school systems that adopt this creative program will be giving a gift to themselves and to the adolescents in their care for a healthier, more positive and productive future.
-Irene McHenry, PhD, licensed psychologist, author, international speaker and workshop presenter, and currently executive director of Friends Council on Education
- “The unfolding field of mindfulness education for tweens and teens is most fortunate to be gifted with Broderick's theoretically grounded and pragmatically written step-by-step guide. Broderick offers first-hand experiences and clear insights to encourage teachers and therapists teaching mindfulness practices to deepen their own practice while teaching and learning alongside youths. When offered in the spirit with which it is written, the Learning to Breathe curriculum opens a conversation around the often overwhelming stressors that are simultaneously unique and universal to preadolescents and adolescents while offering them an array of exercises to meet the stressors with more clarity and care. In doing so, these exercises for youths can introduce a new way of being in the world that frees young people from automatic avoidance and risk-taking behaviors that often compound their stress-thereby decreasing experiences of distress and increasing experiences of empowerment. Let the exploration begin!”
-Laura J. Pinger, MS, senior outreach specialist at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- “I have seen first-hand the transformational potential Learning to Breathe has for a wide range of students in the high school setting. Broderick has done an amazing job of creating a mindfulness-based universal prevention program for high school applications. Those looking for a program to use to bring mindfulness to high school students in a curricular way need not look further than Learning to Breathe.”
-Todd D. Cantrell, house principal at Central Bucks High School West in Doylestown, PA
- “I am delighted to provide an unequivocal endorsement of Broderick's Learning to Breathe. This program for adolescents is beautifully designed and hits all the right notes for teaching mindfulness as a tool to navigate the ups and downs of adolescence. Grounded within a developmental framework and clinical understanding of adolescent issues, Broderick's book is user-friendly and will resonate with clinicians, educators, and parents alike. As a school social worker with experience of successfully implementing [the program] within a very diverse population, it is gratifying to have a program of this integrity that is compatible with multiple areas of the curriculum.”
-Marjorie James, MSW, RSW, social worker with the Toronto District School Board
- “School reform is doomed to failure until it faces the reality of kids as they come: stressed-out, overwrought, and inattentive to school work. This marvelous book fills this gap with a curriculum that helps teenagers reduce stress, handle their emotions, and master their attention. A step-by-step guide for teachers and clinicians, Learning to Breathe is clear, inventive, and practical, and it can be implemented starting tomorrow. This inspiring book is also a timely wake-up call for the nation.”
-Jerome Murphy, Dean Emeritus at Harvard Graduate School of Education
- “As a longtime instructor of mindfulness-based stress reduction, currently teaching instructors in two school districts, Broderick's book, Learning to Breathe, is a welcome gift. It is filled with clear information about mindfulness, from both the educational and neurological perspectives, and presents an excellent, thorough, and complete curriculum for adolescents. This book will be welcomed, used, and gratefully received by teachers and students.”
-Ferris Buck Urbanowski, MA, mindfulness instructor, South Burlington, Vermont School District, and Washington West School District, Waitsfield, VT
- “Learning to Breathe offers a time-tested, research-based solution to assist young people in cultivating positive qualities, such as mindful awareness and compassion for oneself and others. [The book will] inspire young people to use these qualities in the service of the greater good in the twenty-first century. I hope we see this curriculum in all of our schools.”
-Robert W. Roeser, professor of psychology and human development in the department of psychology at Portland State University, Portland, OR
“Even when we have an inside familiarity with the practice of mindfulness it is challenging to make it accessible and meaningful to others. Broderick's book and program have done just this-translated the practice into a practical, accessible program for both teachers and students. The result is a curriculum that maps beautifully onto both the opportunity and the vulnerability that are inherent in the teenage years.”
-Rebecca Crane, director at the Center for Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor University, UK
“Learning to Breathe is truly a gem that fills a critical gap in social and emotional learning programs for adolescents. With a deep commitment to helping young people navigate the social and emotional challenges of this developmental period, Broderick has artfully crafted an outstanding mindfulness-based program supported by rigorous research. The program is unique among its peers. Rather than functioning as an `add-on' that places extra burdens on teachers, it has been successfully integrated into existing curricula and meets standards in the areas of science and health. This program is a proven method for promoting well-being and resilience among young people.”
-Patricia A. Jennings, MEd, PhD, research assistant professor in human development and family studies at the Prevention Research Center at Pennsylvania State University, PA
“Learning to Breathe is an excellent program for teachers or practitioners interested in teaching mindfulness to adolescents. The instructions and lesson plans are easy to follow as an instructor, and they allow for enough flexibility to make the program fit your needs. Our students readily engaged in the activities during class and kept up with a home practice as well. Most told us that they noticed differences in their lives and reported that the mindfulness practices they learned would be helpful in their classes at school to help relax them before tests or keep them alert, as well as being helpful for sports. We heard from several students that it was their favorite part of their summer and that they were very glad to have taken the course.”
-Kristen Lyons, PhD, assistant professor of developmental psychology at Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver, CO
“Learning to Breathe is a superb guide for helping adolescents manage their emotional lives. Broderick draws from the finest knowledge in psychology and mindfulness education to craft this extraordinary book-it is sure to become a classic.”
-Richard C. Brown, founded Naropa University's Contemplative Education Department in 1990, and recently co-developed Garrison Institute's mindfulness-based Care for Teachers program
“This is experiential learning at its best. The teacher facilitates a journey of discovery from which both students and teachers alike come back hungry for more!”
-Bruce Glick, teacher who has worked with special needs children and youth in myriad settings
“Drawing on her expertise in developmental psychology and mindfulness, Broderick has crafted a comprehensive, beautifully designed, mindfulness-based curriculum for adolescents. Learning to Breathe details a multitude of simple yet powerful mindfulness practices for teens as well as clear, concise, step-by-step instructions for teachers and clinicians to implement this wonderfully rich curriculum. This book is a tremendous resource-a must for educators and clinicians who want to bring the transformative power of mindfulness to teens.”
-Diane Reibel, PhD, director of the Mindfulness Institute, Jefferson Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine, and coauthor of Teaching Mindfulness
“Broderick's years of real-world experience with teenagers shine through on every page of her wonderful new book, Learning to Breathe. When it comes to teaching mindfulness, adolescents can be an especially challenging group and Broderick has developed wise, practical, and time-tested methods that help teens manage stress and develop attention as they integrate mindfulness into their daily lives.”
-Susan Kaiser Greenland, JD, author of The Mindful Child
“Know thyself. Building not only on the accumulated wisdom of the ages but also on the pioneering work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Broderick has created an extremely well-pitched curriculum for helping teens through what may well be tumultuous years. Practicing mindfulness, a sustained state of nonjudgmental self-awareness, has well-documented salubrious effects. In this well-written and insightful book, Broderick explains clearly what mindfulness is, why it is important, and how to teach it to our youth.”
-Philip David Zelazo, PhD, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota
“I wish that I had had this resource when I was principal of my high school. I can't think of a more important gift than to teach students to work with their emotions at such an important period of transition in their lives.”
-Rona Wilensky, founding principal of New Vista High School, Boulder, CO
“Learning to Breathe is a gift to educators and therapists who are committed to supporting the resilience and well-being of the young people they serve. Well-researched, with lessons that are well designed and accessible, it enhances and contributes to the field of social and emotional learning.”
-Pamela Siegle, executive director at Courage and Renewal Northeast