Practicum, Part I: Family & Friends
For my first shot at teaching a mindfulness class, I taught a basic, six-lesson course called "Introduction to Mindfulness."
I was nervous, so I invited friends and family to be my first mindfulness students. I also knew they'd give me some good feedback, which they did. We had 10 participants, including my parents.
We met at a friend's house for an hour once a week for six weeks. The lessons were:
1. Introduction to Mindfulness: What is it? How do you do it? Why do you do it?
2. Anchors: Mindfulness of Breath, Sounds, Body's Connection to the Floor, Chair or Cushion
3. Mindfulness of Body: Body Scan, Interoception, Exteroception, Proprioception
4. Mindfulness of Emotions: Emotion Vocabulary, Emotional Granularity
5. Mindfulness of Thoughts: Non-Grasping, Acceptance, Stories we Create
6. Positive Mindful States: Compassion, Gratitude, Joy
Practicum, Part II: Orleans Juvenile Court
For my second round, I worked with Orleans Juvenile Court (OJC) to offer a free Introduction to Mindfulness course to their employees. The 15 participants were case managers and social workers for juvenile judges and various OJC programs, such as Families in Need of Services (FINS), Girls Reaching Out Works Wonders (GROWW), and the child sex trafficking unit. All participants in this practicum course worked directly with court-involved youth and their families.
The format for this course was three, two-hour sessions. OJC provided lunch for participants.
I tailored this course to the court employees, whose jobs require a significant amount of emotional labor dealing directly with the trauma of others. Repeated exposure to the details of the traumas of others often results in Secondary PTSD. Secondary PTSD has the same symptoms as PTSD; it can reduce productivity and erode mental health in social services employees. My intention with this group was to teach them how they could regulate their nervous systems while doing their best work and avoid burnout. Success at such an intense job requires a mental/emotional sustainability plan.
Our lessons were:
1. Introduction to Mindfulness, Sympathetic versus Parasympathetic Nervous System States, Anchors
2. Mindfulness of Body, Mindfulness of Emotions, the Connection Between Body & Emotion
3. Mindfulness of Thoughts, Calling Upon Positive Mindful States & Lama Rod Owens' Seven Homecomings (Self-Compassion, Gratitude)