Ever feel you are not getting anywhere when talking to a teenager?
One of the most common comments uttered by a teenager will be “I don’t know,” usually when asked about how they feel or about their future possibilities.
It’s fine not to know about how you feel and what you want for your future, but the one sentence that stops the enquiry and the pathway to the answer is, “I don’t know.”
It limits the brain’s capacity for exploring, it stops the thought process and it stills possibility .
I use this example because it is one of those limiting thoughts that travel around in the teenage brian, along with “I can’t do it, I’m not good enough, no one likes me, I hate myself.” Not only are these thoughts not true (because they are after all only thoughts,) but they lead to feelings of despair, depression, pain and limit the capacity of who they truly are.
Every yoga class for teens must now include teaching them how the mind works, how to deal with negative thoughts, feelings and emotions and how to switch negative thinking into a mindset that creates a positive outcome and future.
Shana, a beautiful 14 year old girl, told me one class that she wasn’t doing well at what she loved doing – surfing. She’s been in the water since a baby and it is the thing that makes her come alive. She’s been competing since she was tiny, but was recently told by her coaches that she wasn’t good enough anymore, that she had a negative attitude when she didn’t win and that they were going to cut her from the team.
Shana was numb as she told me. The problem wasn’t being shouted at by her coaches or even being criticised for her attitude, it was the fact that she wouldn’t be competing in the one thing she loved.
What struck me the most was when I asked Shana how she felt – “I don’t know.” I continued, “What’s your goal, do you want to be a professional surfer?” She replied, “I don’t know.”
It is these repetitive sentences that most teens don’t know they are saying that will shut the brain down fast.
We had to find a way to open the process of enquiry and yoga and visualisations do this perfectly. One short visualisation lead to Shana having a clear vision, a clear goal, (which was to compete at State level and win) and for her to create that in her own mind as a possibility and a future she could live into. The next part was the important part – to communicate that to the coaches and create it with them.
The next part was equally as important – to communicate that to the coaches and create it with them. That’s the next lesson!
One of the most valuable tools yoga can provide for teens is access and awareness to their mind and thoughts. As teachers, parents and caregivers, it is our job to help them live into their dreams and desires and create that future possibility with them.