When we take a look at basic neurobiology, we understand our ancient brain is meant to operate at a level that promotes survival; scanning our environment for threats to our physical well-being. With this understanding, it becomes clear that fear and vigilance are natural default modes of thinking for self-preservation.
In the 21st century, threats to our survival are not the same as when the human brain was developing. Our basic needs are generally more easily met (although not for all) than our Neanderthal ancestors. In the modern day the experiences that trigger Fight, Flight or Freeze response are not necessarily physical threats challenging the meeting of our basic needs, rather we are likely experiencing threats to our emotional well-being: Feelings of exclusion, feeling devalued or not seen at all by peers, feelings of not meeting expectations, or simply attempting to keep up with an unrealistic daily schedule.
I recall asking a teacher about the wisdom of actively attempting to develop a practice to change this natural mechanism of survival. His response was to ask me to consider the resulting behavior of the people around me. Did I notice people that were highly reactive? Did I notice people that seemed physically agitated? Did these behaviors appear to affect their ability to participate in daily activities, or at minimum did their energy affect that of others in a shared space? Then he went on to wonder if it was possible that a Mindfulness practice might be part of human evolution.
These questions are a part of the warp in my weave of Mindfulness practice. The weft is how I approach my practice each day. Over the past six years I have approached my personal evolution with much consideration about when I have been reactive and fearful - Nature is a soul soother for me, silence is necessary for me in this noisy world, artistic expression is a boundary stretching experience that reaffirms and enriches how I see the world around me.
As I return to teaching Mindfulness here in the Laramie community, I bring with it the experience of my evolving personal practice. I add to that five years experience in offering and developing Mindfulness programs for youth both here in Albany County School District Schools as a volunteer, as well as an on staff Mindfulness teacher with Teton Science Schools in Teton County, ID, and as an outside provider in public schools in Teton County School District #401, ID. In working with children Pre-K through Eighth grade, my evolution is in responsiveness to what is showing up for youth as they create comfort in identifying what is going on for them emotionally. Together we develop strategies in utilizing Mindfulness as a mechanism for creating space between difficult emotional circumstances and their response to them.
I wish for the opportunity to work with youth in the Laramie area, particularly adolescents coping with the stress of growing from child to adult. My first vision is to create a free, ongoing opportunity for Middle and High School students to meet weekly in a safe space developing Mindfulness practices and cultivating vocabulary that encourages comfort with difficult emotions.
Please visit here regularly. It is my intention to share science, inspiration and opportunity to support a personal Mindfulness practice for you and any youth you love in your life.