ADAM LEONARD: Hello my name isAdam Leonard from the People Development within Google here.
And I’m really excited aboutintroducing my friend, Daniel Rechtschaffentoday for the talk.
And in particular, as one ofthe founders of gPause, which is Google’s global meditationcommunity of practitioners, one of the things thatinspires me the most is the ripple effects that thispractice has through society, becoming more mindful.
And Daniel talk todayabout the ripple effects within the educationalsystem and children.
So let me give you a littlebit about his background and then I’ll turnedover to Daniel.
So Daniel’s a marriageand family therapist here in the BayArea and the author of the book “The Wayof Mindful Education: Cultivating Well-Being inTeachers and Students.
” And we have copies of thebook over here after the talk.
And so Daniel leads mindfuland education trainings, both at conferencesaround the world, in addition to several differenteducational institutions.
He also teaches mindfulnessto high school basketball and baseball teams, whichI thought was interesting.
So let me turn itover to Daniel.
[APPLAUSE] DANIEL RECHTSCHAFFEN:Hello, everybody.
I’ve been teaching mostly inan elementary school recently, so you all look rather bigto me and a little serious.
So I figured I’dstart off by bringing in a little bit oflevity and playfulness.
With little kids, youneed to play mindfulness.
You need to– insteadof paying attention, you need to beplaying attention.
If I’m trying to goin and teaching kids how to focus and toregulate their emotions, it’s going to becomereally boring, really fast.
And it’s going to feellike that old game where your parents say, let’ssee who can be quiet longest.
And kids know really quick,that’s no kind of game.
And they’ll, this doesn’tsound like a game.
So let’s do a littlebit of movement.
I always start withsome movement with kids, because I see some people havesome food so you might just, for a little moment,put with the food down.
We’ll just do a fewlittle movements to get us more present andrelaxed here in our bodies.
And often when I teach, I tellpeople, especially teachers– I train a lot of teachers.
And I say, we’re goingto– let’s pretend to be kids for a minute.
And when you say thatto teachers and adults, they’re even worsethan little kids.
You’ll get like a spit ballimmediately in the eye.
So, be your adult self,but let’s do some movement.
So let’s start with afew Spiderman breaths.
So let’s breathe in, and breatheout and shoot out your webs.
And how about somedolphin breaths.
And some crocodile breaths.
And a few butterfly breaths.
And how about a couple, I’vebeen working a few hours and I’m reallystressed, breaths.
So lift up yourshoulders, tighten them, breathe out and relax.
Let’s do a few of those.
And then see if you can justbe as still as a statue.
And notice as you breathe,if any parts of your body are moving.
Even though you’retrying to be still, see where the movementin your body is.
Thank you for playingattention with me.
Very often, foradults and for kids, it’s really easy–like if I came in here and said, let’s learnsome mindfulness and practice for 30minutes, a lot of you would start toequate mindfulness with this profoundlyfrustrating experience.
And our brains wouldactually link that up, right? Link up? And that’s probablywhy when we like, oh, I should reallypractice mindfulness this morning, everything inour bodies kind of yells, don’t do it.
It’s so annoying.
It’s because very oftenwhen we try to do it, we do it outside of our range.
And so for kids, the range mightbe five seconds or 10 seconds.
And so for me to do these funmovements, then as you saw, I progressively gota little bit smaller, until I did this veryfun, accessible, ah, see what happens whenyou are breathing, feeling the movement.
And immediately, kidswill come back and say, I think I felt my heart beating.
Or I can feel my hips goingin and out like a balloon as I was breathing.
You’ll get thesefascinating inner awareness that’s being cultivated.
And you don’t have to be topheavy with it, telling them OK, now you’re going tohave to be still.
OK, Joey, stop moving.
OK, Sally, you know.
And you really justinvite them into this fun inner exploration.
So I wanted to begin and give alittle overview of mindfulness in education andhow it’s spreading.
One of organizationsthat I really love that’s doingsome amazing work is an organization calledThe Holistic Life Foundation and they’re in Baltimore.
They’re good buddies of mine.
And just to show what they’vebeen doing in the Baltimore schools, and they haveall of these things in the different schoolsettings where they’ll have a mindfulness room.
And the mindfulnessroom will always be having this kindof soothing music.
They even have theselike essential oil blends that are putting out nice scents The room is justa space for them to be able– for thestudents to be able to come.
So, when they’ve had a fight,when there’s a conflict, teachers won’t send thekids to the principal.
They’ll send them tothe mindfulness room.
And in the mindfulness room,the kids aren’t like punished.
What have you done? They’re invited justto be present and talk about what’s going on.
And so, during all of theconflict and difficulty that’s been happening in Baltimore,every day The Holistic Life Foundation, Ali and AtmanSmith and Andy Gonzales, they’ve been doing thesemindfulness days in the park.
So while the citywas burning, they were getting peopletogether to be able to meditate on what thosereally difficult emotions that are rising in theirbodies are about and having theseamazing conversations.
They have trained– they’reall from inner city Baltimore and have trained allof their facilitators are these young kids whocome through their program.
And now they’vegiven them jobs to go into all of theseother Baltimore schools to be able to be teachinghow to regulate emotion, how to be able to developexecutive functioning.
How to be able tocultivate empathy.
There’s all thisreally amazing research that’s been around for awhile, but for some reason, it hasn’t beendisseminated as widely as it should in terms of socialand cultural diversity work.
There’s an amazing studycalled The Ace Study.
I don’t know if any of youknow about The Ace Study, where it’s for the AdverseChildhood Experiences test.
And it talks about the differenttraumas or major stresses that people havehad in their life.
So if you’ve had adverseexperiences, whether that’s a real kind of capitalT trauma, like some type of physical or sexualabuse, or even just living in an environmentthat’s very stressful, even that’s often inthe schools around here, where there’sthis incredible push and stress for kids to achieve.
So if you’re growing upwith all of these stressors, I’ll just read a few of thethings that it predicts.
So one of the firstamazing things is, if you have a lot ofthese very intense stressors, traumas, your lifeexpectancy is 20 years less, which is rather amazing.
People with high ACEscores are three times as likely to experienceacademic failure, six times as likely to havebehavioral problems, and five times as likely to haveattendance problems.
So we set up kids in a verydisturbing environment, and their brain architecturethat we’re really finding that the architectureof the brain, even the genetics, is changed by stress levels.
Even more amazingly,more recent research is finding that thelevels of stress can change the genetics whichgets passed on to their kids.
So there’s these highlevels of trauma and stress, whether that’s– I work a lotin– one day I’ll be in like a Berkeley, veryprivileged school, and I’ll see the intentstressors that these kids are under to achieve.
And then the next day, I’llbe in an inner city Oakland school, with very differenttypes of stressors, but all stressors.
And this stress physicallyaffects the body and really hijacks the mindto be able to be present and to think and to be creative.
So all of thetesting that we throw on our kids, all of this reallyintense high stakes testing, actually dumbs the mind down.
It puts people in evenmore of a kind of fight or flight or a freeze response.
So, such a big part ofthe mindfulness training, that I do, the emotionalintelligence training, is first, how dowe get kids to feel comfortable and relaxed andpresent in their bodies.
So one of the big things I’vealso been tracking recently, is you probably alsothe news around New York and a lot of the other statesthat opted out of tests.
So 175,000 studentsin New York opted out of the standardized testing.
In some places it was 70% ofthe entire school district, the kids said, we’renot taking these tests.
So there’s a big shifthappening in education.
I recently had somebodyfrom Silicon Valley who’s trying to start a school,and he came to me and said, I want to create this school.
I consult with a lotof different schools, bringing in mindfulnessand emotional intelligence around the world.
But what was particularlyamazing for me about what thisgentleman was bringing was that he wassaying, that they’re going to bring a lot ofwhat you all at Google are developingamazingly, they’re bringing all of the tech ininformation, kind of Khan Academy style information.
So all the informationthat’s going to be delivered is going to be from the greatscientists and professors from the great institutionsaround the world.
And what that does is,it completely frees up the teachers.
They’re no longerinformation purveyors.
And what they are becomingnow in this school that I’m consulting with,what they are going to become is emotionalintelligence, mindfulness, kind of helping the kidsfind meaning, helping them be creative, helpingthem find their path in life.
Helping them understand how toaccess knowledge, helping them understand to be theirbest people, which is an amazing shift.
Because so many teachersthat I talk with, tell me that abouthalf of their time anyway is basicallyas a social worker, trying to get their kidsto stop moving around.
They have so much ADHD.
There’s so much disregulation.
I could explain the numbersof the anxiety and depression that’s like going throughthe roof with kids as young as like kindergarten.
Kids are getting diagnoses atthese incredibly young ages.
So for the teachersto actually be there as these holisticsupport systems, and then to be able to givethem all of this information that’s readily accessible.
So what I want to do is towalk through what mindfulness and what’s called social,emotional learning, some fun ways that it’s offered, andwhat it actually can do.
So there’s fivedifferent realms that I look at of differenttypes of literacy, not just what CommonCore does, which is just kind ofmath and language, but five deeperrealms of literacy.
Which are the literacyof our bodies, the literacy of our minds,literacy of our hearts, literacy aroundthe social world, and then literacy aroundkind of our ecology, our understanding of ourplace in nature and the world.
So we can start with theliteracy of our bodies.
I just did a little bitwith you around just those Spiderman breaths.
That’s us learning howto be in touch, relaxed, connected to our bodies.
Adam was tellingme before about how he does some work with veteranswho are returning from war.
He said he starts by doingthese great like rafting trips and fun things with them,getting them in their body and teaching them aboutmindfulness through getting into the flow, gettingconnected to what’s alive all around them.
So there’s all thesedifferent access points.
So I start withkids, if their minds are hijacked, whichso many of them are, how do we help them dropinto their bodies to integrate? So the first thing–and I’ll walk us all through some exercisesto be experiential.
If everybody justputs up one hand.
And why don’t we lookat it for a moment, just kind of explore this handthat’s always typing and doing everything for you.
But you probablyhaven’t actually taken a look at all thelittle lines and colors in it.
And then you couldlet your eyes close.
And since your eyesare closed, how do you know thatyour hand is there? What are the physical sensationsthat you can feel in there? And maybe why don’t youfeel the other hand, see what’s sensationsare in the other hand.
Are they different? Are they the same? The fingers, the palm, see ifyou can get really interested.
And how about feeling bothhands at the same time? OK.
Thank you forplaying that with me.
So, often with kidswhat I’ll do is a really give them a languagefor their physical experience.
We’ll go throughour bodies, maybe we’ll pick somethingup and do, you know, write with apencil in slow motion, feeling the way thehand moves, doing different types ofslow motion movements, really learning the sensations.
I’ll go up on the blackboardand have kids say, what you feel in your body.
And I’ll show you as we gothrough the mind, the heart, why we need to start with thiskind of physical literacy, understanding how thebody feels, how it moves, what it means to be relaxed,what it means to be stressed.
Teaching kids where stress isin the body and what it feels like.
So really giving them thislanguage of the physical body.
Then I move on, once the kidsare relaxed, they’re present, I move on to some mind training.
So teaching them how to,what we talk a lot about, as building themuscles of attention.
And there’s something aboutthis attention practice that I’m sure all ofyou– and still in schools I hear over andover again, teachers yelling at kids to pay attentionor not to be distracted.
But we don’t teach themhow to pay attention or how not to getdistracted or how to be calm, how to berelaxed in their body.
So there’s reallyprecise, clear ways to develop thissense of attention.
One of the ways that kids seemto really love exploring it is a game that I callthe distraction game.
So I’ll go into a classroomand I’ll teach kids how to take their hands andput them on their bellies and just to feel theirbreath moving in and out.
And then what I’ll dois, I will walk around, and usually mostschools I’m in, there’s lots of like penciljars and things you can make noises with.
And I’ll say, who thinks theycan be totally focused, even if I try to distract them? And kids really like this, andso they’ll put up their hands.
And I’ll go aroundand I’ll start making noises andopening the door and jumping aroundand being silly.
And they’re really tryingto keep their focus on their breath.
I call it the base camp breath.
And have them reallystay right there.
And the kids are sointerested in it, and then a bunch of the otherkids will say, can I try that? I’m like, OK, let’s all do it.
And then eventually, I’llask for some distractor’s assistants.
And so usuallypretty much always, I’ll choose the kids who are themost distracting, the ones that are always distractingthe rest of the class.
And I’ll let them get up andkind of walk around the room, making noise and rattling thingsand trying to distract kids.
And I’ll explore in realtime, the dynamics that are happening in the classroom.
So, asking them,what was it like? What does it feellike in your body when you so want to open youreyes or you so want to giggle? Kids will try to go–I’ll be like, OK, Yeah, if you want you cantry to tell some jokes and get kids to laugh.
See what it’s like totry to stay regulated.
So they are actuallypracticing regulation.
They’re really working withintegrating their brains so that they can keep thiskind of sense of integration and calming theiramygdala down so that they can havemore executive functioning in their brains.
And we can really talkto them about this.
If they’re little kids, youcan talk to them what about, like the lizard brain,which captures the top part of your brain, the neocortex.
And how we can letthe lizard relax by doing these breathsand then the mind and can work ina more sharp way.
Once I do that, we can actuallyteach kids and definitely high school students,middle school students, but even really young childrencan start learning how, not just to be awareof distraction, of kind of externals, buthow they’re distracted by their own thoughts.
How their own mentalconstructions, whether those are kindof destructive thoughts about themselves orwhether they’re just random thoughts about themovie they want to go see.
And then– well, let’s allput our hands on our belly for another second.
And what we can do is, youcan let your eyes close.
And what we can explore isjust anchoring our attention in the breath.
So you’re feeling your breathgoing in and out of your belly.
And what you couldnotice is, any time a thought pops intoyour head, our brains are kind of like popcorn makers.
But instead of making thoughtsor instead of making popcorn, they make thoughts.
Any time a thought goesthrough your head, just pop your hand up.
And just kind of lift it up inthe air and then bring it back.
And when you’re bringingyour hand back to your belly, you’re bringingyour attention back to the breath the physicalsensation of the belly, like a balloon gettingbigger and smaller.
And anytime the mindpops with a thought– and if you’re wondering,if you’re thinking that’s a thought itself.
–you can always justpop it in the air, collect yourself, and bringthe hand back to the belly.
So let’s try that for a minute.
It’s amazing to watchand listen to what students say about this.
So you’ll get like asecond grade class, so young children,who really start witnessing how their ownminds are hijacking them, and how they’re buildingthese muscles of attention, learning how to stay–like a kid the other day said, like always when I’mreading, I’ll be reading and my eyes will go downto the bottom of the page.
And then I’ll realizethat I’ve gotten to the bottom of the page,but I wasn’t actually taking in the words.
And I’m trying to buildmy muscles of attention, so that I can actually readit and then finish it and then play some baseball orsomething like that.
So they reallyunderstand this capacity to keep the attention focused.
So once I’ve developedthese muscles of attention, awareness of our minds,awareness of our bodies, then we move on to the emotions.
And so, there’s thisreally profound way that we bring thebody and the attention together for basicimpulse control, basic emotional regulation.
So we talk to kidsall the time about, don’t steal the cookiefrom the cookie jar.
Don’t hit your brother.
Don’t do thesethings, don’t react.
We look at a placelike Baltimore, and say, don’t do that.
Don’t destroy thisbuilding in your own city.
But when there’sso much emotion, when there’s so much hurt, whenthere’s so much difficulty, we haven’t really taught kidswhat to do with that emotion.
And so it needs to spill over.
So it doesn’t really makesense to punish them.
Usually punishing inthe way we often punish, really just adds morekind of fire to it.
So what we do is, Iusually explain to kids, like I imagine thatmy arm is a branch.
And it’s going up, and uphere all of these leaves, they’re kind oflike my thoughts.
And so anytimethere’s a lot of wind and the branch isgoing like this, it’s kind of likeI’m ruminating.
I’m thinking aboutsomething a lot.
I’m like churning about thisargument I had with my wife.
Or I’m churning about thisthing that my boss said.
And so any time there’s thathamster wheel of thinking, there’s always a correlation.
So if you follow thebranch down into your body and check out in your throat,in your chest, in your stomach, somewhere in your body there’salways a physical correlation of how you actuallyphysically feel to that ruminating thought.
And usually what we dowhen we’re ruminating, when we’re reallycaught in something, is usually we thinklike, oh, man, I can’t believe she said that.
What should I say next time? Maybe I’ll do this.
And that just pushesthe hamster wheel more.
And you all know this, I’m sure.
This is why we can’tfall asleep at night sometimes is, the mind is justworking, working, working, working.
And we think then maybeI’ll be able to fix it by thinking our wayout of it, which is– if anybody’s ever thoughttheir way out of something like that, let me know.
Because usually even if wecome up with a great thought, then we have to–oh, would that work? How can I do that? So what we can do, reallythe only place that there’s some type of soothingand relaxation, is if we drop downinto our bodies and locate where thephysical experience is.
So if the thought aboutlike this argument is there, there’s probablysome like agitation, heat in the chest,tightness in the belly, maybe the face isa little tight.
And so with kids, onceyou’ve taught them the physical capacity,the physical literacy, they’ll be ableto find, oh, yeah, there’s this heat right here.
There’s thisagitation right here.
There’s this discomfort.
And then I do a lot of what Icall the vacuum cleaner breath, where they suck in all ofthis uncomfortable energy into their belly,they relax it, really becoming aware of thephysical experience, and that is where– whatmindfulness basically is, is when we orient into, towardsthe present moment, what’s happening right now.
We open to what’shappening right now instead of pushing away fromit into our brains, trying to think, how canwe fix this or change this.
So it’s a very simpleorientation shift.
And it’s a little bitopposite, counterintuitive, that if you orientinto pain or orient into agitation, when webring our kind of openness, our heartfulness,it actually relaxes.
That’s most of the research inthe beginning of mindfulness.
Mindfulness-basedstress reduction was about chronic pain.
And if you actuallybring your attention into a chronic backpain, it actually relaxes instead oftightening against it, which adds more pain.
So with kids, I do thesevery basic explanations.
Maybe I’ll have thempicture somebody that they’re annoyed with.
And they’ll picturethem, and then you can actually feel,physically, what that’s like.
And then to actually feel itand to breathe and to relax.
And instead of– veryoften I’ll hear in schools, even schools that don’tteach mindfulness, they’ll say take three deepbreaths when you’re angry.
But usually when kidsdo that, they just go, [QUICK BREATHS] and thenthey just go right back to it, right, instead ofreally getting like, OK, so when I actuallynotice that I’m agitated, and they can catch it.
Oh, there it is.
OK, there’s tightness.
There’s a littlebit of butterflies.
OK, I’m present withit, breathing with it, I’m noticing it,I’m relaxing it.
And when we do that and wereinforce it over and over again, it’s life changing.
There’s all of this researcharound impulse control as one of the majorpredictors around who will go to prison, howwell people are going to do on tests, how successfulacademically they’ll be, just by their earlycapacity to be able to be present with their impulses.
So with the emotionalwork, both we’re learning to work withthe intense emotions and then we’re also learningto cultivate the more kind of beneficial, sweetcompassion, empathy, joy, happiness, all of thesebeautiful practices that we can do around gratitude.
Often I’ll have people bring ina kind of a picture of somebody that for them, it is themost compassionate person in their minds or theirhearts, whether it’s one of their grandparents orwhether it’s Mother Teresa.
And to picture themand then to really bring in that energy tostart actually bringing that compassion into the world.
So students learn how to workwith the difficult emotion, to cultivate the empathy.
Then the fourth piecethat I like to do is more of thesocial, cultural work.
And right now, one ofthe things I’m really fascinated aboutwith this is what’s happening in Baltimore, what’shappening around our country and has been for a longtime around diversity, around how we have so muchassumptions about racism, and how we can actually teachkids to open their minds up, to develop empathy in avery– in a physical way.
And when I sayphysical, often it’s very easy to go inand tell people, you should be nice to eachother, you should do this.
That doesn’t reallyhelp most of the time.
It feels like another should.
But when we can teach kids toreally feel in their bodies.
One practice I’vebeen doing recently is I’ll put like anobject up on a table and I’ll have everybody justlook at this one object.
And just kind of have amindfulness practice on it for a minute or so.
And just looking at it, andjust since we’ve already been doing a lot of theseattention practices, have them just have thisrelaxed mind, breathing.
And just seeing,as they’re looking at it, what assumptionscome up about this object.
Noticing if they reallylike it, if they dislike it, if they have a judgment,if they have a correlation.
And amazingly, even if you likejust put a bottle or a book, afterwards, the wholeclass is going to fill in.
I really like- I got soannoyed looking at that book.
I loved that book.
I have this assumptionbecause my brother like hit me with a book one time.
And you’re going to getall of the stuff in there.
And teaching kids the waysthat we develop assumptions and then helping themunderstand how we all have that towards each other,how we put each other in boxes.
And how mindfulnesscan actually help us see each other in this muchmore clear and conscious way.
So another one ofthe main practices that I do– and I’m goingto wrap up in a few minutes because I want to beable to really open some conversationfor all of you.
One of the other practicesthat I love to do is around the present moment.
And so teaching kids, I’llask a lot of questions about what is the past.
And they’ll explainwhat happened you know, the dinosaurs and that theytripped on the way to school this morning and all thesethings that happened.
And then what’s inthe future, there’s going to be– we’regoing to be on Mars, or that my birthday is onSunday or whatever it is.
And then askingthem what is right now in the present moment? And I’ll teach kids to be ableto communicate with each other from just what’s happeningin the present moment, which is a very fascinatingpractice if anybody has ever really tried to do this.
To have a conversation backand forth where the rules are.
The only thing youcan say is, my back is hurting a little bit right now.
The lights are a littleheavy in my eyes.
I’m feeling my voice inmy larynx as I’m talking.
So actually to be able toreally just speak present moment and seeing what happens topeople when you take away all story and learn how tocommunicate in this very empathic present moment way.
So the practices are reallylearning this landscape of empathy of communication.
And then the final stageis more of this kind of ecological awareness,which obviously right now is so important, understanding howwe are connected to everything.
We do a lot of work bringing–I love bringing kids out into nature.
And for me, there’s no betterteacher than the natural world.
If you want to learnpatience, you sit by a tree.
You do something like that.
And so really starting tolearn and ask questions to kids about theirenvironment, about how they’re connected to their environment.
So I just wanted towalk through these five main realms of literacy.
That in schools around the US,Canada, all over the world, whole schooldistricts are starting to learn how to integratethis level of kind of critical thinkingand awareness so that kids can reallymaster their own minds and then can go out intothe world in this much more empowered way.
In this work that’sbeen happening around a big transformationin education, there’s a bit of arevolutionary piece to it.
Because there’s alot of– I don’t know if you know howthe Texas School Board’s kind of curriculum committee isthe one for some reason, that makes all the decisionsabout curriculum, mostly in the entire country.
Usually the onesthat Texas chooses is what most ofthe schools follow.
And a big part of TexasRepublican platform came out a coupleyears ago saying that they were opposed tocritical thinking skills, because they thought that itwas going to– they thought that it would undermine values.
And so nothing againstRepublicans or specific people, but that basic concept ofcritical thinking skills and teaching kids howto think for themselves and to be creative, the waythat Google here kind of– some of the ways that thisorganization is set up for you to havefree thinking, we’re needing that in oureducational paradigm.
And it isn’t likethat right now.
It’s all very top down.
You know, follow what we say.
Memorization,information memorization, not much transformation,not much change, not much creativity,not much openness.
Literal, very clearpushback about kids doing these types ofmindfulness practices, which are going to be aliberation practice, kind of a waking up practicewhere they’re going to learn, who am I? What is my body? What is my mind? What is my heart? What is the world around me? How am I connectedto everything? So there’s a bigtransformation that needs to happen inour world in order for the ecologicalsystem, the social system, for things to be more healthy.
And mindfulness, as apractice is the exact antidote that I’m looking toas a way to help kids wake up, to help to see better.
So what I would love to do–we have a bunch of time.
But what I would love to dois to open this up and just have some questionsand some dialogue.
We have about 20 minutesbecause it’s always a little more interesting toget some cross pollination.
AUDIENCE: Is there anyway that technology can help peopleto be more mindful and just create morelike compassionate people or is it actually takingpeople away from that? DANIEL RECHTSCHAFFEN: Iam so happy it, especially here at Google.
Do you have an idea? AUDIENCE: Not really.
I mean, not exactly.
DANIEL RECHTSCHAFFEN: Sothere’s a lot to this.
So there are some apps thatare coming out that I actually really appreciate.
Mostly the apps thatI’m appreciating are apps that are aroundempathy and compassion and mindfulness wherethe kids are doing are doing somethingin the app and then the app has little kindof assignments for them.
OK, now, go do two random actsof kindness and then come back.
And you get to this level.
So for me, to learn todevelop emotionally, you need to do itinterpersonally.
You actually need to be incontact with others and not just somebody on the otherside of the computer.
It needs to be–there’s something about the actual resonantfields of two bodies, the mirror neurons thatare actually waking up when you’re across from somebody.
So I think that there’ssome amazing stuff that technology can do.
And obviously justwith all of the work that’s happening where there’sthese amazing interconnected webs where we knowabout an Apollo.
All of a sudden, we know abouthere, we know about Syria.
And we’re able tohear so much more.
We’re able todevelop that empathy.
But on a really basic–I mean as a therapist, I work with mostlyadults, but I work with individuals around what itreally takes to heal and grow and it takes a lot.
So it’s basically down tolike attachment theory, which means our most core wounds arearound ways that we weren’t loved, ways we weren’t met,ways that we don’t really trust each other.
And in order tochange that, it needs to be in person, whether it’sa therapist or a community or a loving relationship,that’s where these– you know, your mind can be like,oh yeah, I trust that.
But the body is still like,oh, I don’t know about that.
So what I would sayis that if technology is working with in person,relational support, it can be amazing.
And at the same time, there’ssome great attention trainings that are online thatwork really well.
So if you’re just lookingfor basic attention training, there’s some great online toolswhere you can follow something or you can get biofeedbackto see how well the breath is happening.
So attention training, whichis a little different than just mindfulness.
Attention trainingcan be trained in a lot of different ways.
But it is often the metaphorof like in the military, well before mindfulness, theyhad something called sniper breath,which is focusing, regulating theirbreath to this extent so that they canshoot really well.
Which is not what I’dconsider mindfulness.
Mindfulness is you needto weave in this kind of empathic presence.
So we can train some attention,but for this larger scale, like opening the awareness tothe environment, to nature, to each other, whichwe’re lacking so much.
There’s a research study thatwas just done out of UCLA where they took kids– oneclassroom and brought them into like a natureretreat for a week.
So no technology.
Other school just stayed there.
And then they brought themback and they gave them some emotionalintelligence tests.
So basically showingfaces, and getting them to see, oh, that’sa sad face, that’s a happy face, very basic kindof showing how well can you recognize others’emotions, be empathic.
And the kids who’d beenin nature for the week scored way higher.
But they hadn’tdone anything, they hadn’t taught themanything about emotion.
But just unplugging themfor a week, to let them just kind drop in.
I don’t know why itdid it, but there’s something about gettingthem into a little bit more natural state.
So I’m a major proponentof using technology to help kids unplug,which I don’t know exactly how that works.
But we need that balance.
AUDIENCE: Towards the end, youtalked about the transformation that you think needs to happenwithin the education system.
I’m just wondering,for places where you’ve seen thatstart to happen, what does that look like? Where within thesystem does it start? What are the sort ofconditions and characteristics that might need to be in place? DANIEL RECHTSCHAFFEN:Thank you so much for that.
So there’s actually alot that’s going on.
So there’s mindfulnessitself and then there’s also socialemotional learning.
And there’s a greatorganization called Castle, the Collaborative forAcademic, Social and Emotional Learning, which is in eightof the major school districts and has been doing a few yearsof really intensive studies to find out howreally integrating emotional intelligence intothe whole school systems, how it works.
It’s in Oakland right now, hasbeen for the last few years.
In these eight districts, theacademic scores went up 11%.
And for anybodyin academics, like for academic scores to goup 11% from any intervention is like staggering.
But the staggeringpiece about that is, they weren’tteaching any academics.
This was purelyemotional support.
So getting the teachers, whichis always important to first.
Train the teachers how toregulate their emotions to be present, to focus.
Then training kids how tobe more aware of each other.
So just this kind of relaxingof nervous systems that allows them to pay attention.
What I’ve started– Istarted doing this work at this organizationcalled Mindful Schools back eight or nine yearsago in Oakland.
And what we first were doing wasjust going into the classroom and teaching kids,which was amazing because we started seeing like,wow, this stuff really works.
Kids really are ableto be more empathic.
They’re able to payattention better.
But what would happenis, I would teach and then I thank theclass and I would get out.
And I’d hear theteacher yelling at them, get back in your seats.
Like oh, that doesn’twork very well.
It needs to be asystemic approach.
So what I’ve done mostly inthe last four or five years is training teachers.
So I’ll go to aschool and I’ll do a lot of professionaldevelopment, a lot of work with them aboutburnout and stress for teachers is huge.
The dropout rate for teachersis higher than it is for kids.
Like most teachers leavewithin three years.
So really teachingthem how to regulate, how to pay attention to thekids, how to attune to them.
So there’s a lot of schooldistricts around the country that are doing this.
The way that it usuallylooks depends on the schools.
But there’s a lot of reallygood emotional intelligence curriculum.
And the way thatmindfulness usually works really beautifully,is that mindfulness dovetails with all thisemotional intelligence work.
Because as I saidbefore, if we’re trying to teach kids empathy, webring in these basic practices, which we’ll have theclass start every day with a little breathing.
Start, or have in the middleof the day, do a little bit where they’re awareof something that’s triggering or frustrating themand doing some breath with it.
So kind of throughout the day,integrating these practices around emotionalregulation, around focus.
And all different schools aredoing it really creatively.
Some have theirown rooms or a kind of a corner of the room that’slike what they call a peace corner, where if the kidsare really stirred up, they self-M referthemselves there, instead of theteachers telling them.
So they start learningthis inner resilience, this inner capacity, so thatthey don’t need to be punished.
But they can say, oh wow,there’s a lot going on in me.
I need to go sit over here forminute and regulate myself.
So it looks a lotof different ways.
One of the major ways oneof the main things that I do is, I have a book,my book, and then I have a book thatI’m about to publish, which is really a curriculum.
And so there’s alot of schools that are using mindfulness-basedcurricula in training their teachers.
That’s really the bestway is if you really get the teachers trainedin their own practice.
And then have somekind of workbooks that they can usewith the kids, rather than me having to goaround the country teaching little lessons orsomething, really getting the– One of my majorlong term visions would be how we could get thistype of foundational training into every teacher in college.
So how could everyteacher learn about how to work with their stressand the stress of their kids.
AUDIENCE: You go up alevel with teachers.
Is it ever necessarygo further up and work withadministrators, et cetera.
Do teachers then run intoissues with administrators who are feeling the pressureto get test scores up? And also what kindof resistance– do you ever get resistancefrom the adults in general when you’re tryingto teach this? DANIEL RECHTSCHAFFEN:So let’s take the two really important ones.
So first one is, sometimesyou get really lucky and you have anadministrator who’s already into mindfulness or something.
And of course, that’s great.
This needs to be systemic,because the stress is everywhere.
It’s important to look around.
It’s easy to point fingersand think like, oh, that person is the evil personwho’s making this all– but everybody’s under this stress.
So actually I have agroup of 30 administrators that I’ve been doing monthlycalls with for the last year, talking with them abouthow to integrate this into their schools.
So it’s so important, if youhave an administrator shifting the environmentfor the teachers– and this is why it’s moreimpact when I teach teachers.
It’s more impact whenI teach administrators.
Because obviously ifthey’re able to create a more empathic andrelaxed state, environment, that’s huge.
So yeah, it needsto go in everywhere.
I mean it needs to– there’sone of our congressman, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, actuallyhas a mindfulness sitting group and that he does inCongress.
[INAUDIBLE] I talked to him because hecame to a conference I lead.
He was like, we hadthree people last time.
That was the mostpeople we’ve had.
But we’re getting more.
It’s getting more.
So we need to spreadthis everywhere.
In terms ofresistance, mindfulness is an introspective practice.
So you can’t force somebodyto be introspective.
Because being introspectiveis vulnerable.
To look inside, if you livedyour life really fast and doing and doing and doing, when youslow down, you’re like, wow, there’s a lot going on in there.
So you can’t forcesomebody to do that.
It’s, by its nature– ifa kid’s sitting there, I have no idea what’sgoing on their mind.
I have no idea what’sgoing on in your mind.
You might have been checkedout this entire talk.
I don’t know what’shappening inside your brains.
So all we can do isinvite you to the feast of these practices.
And so, I alwaysget some resistance from some people whodon’t really want it.
And I never push.
I never push kids.
I never push parents orteachers or administrators.
One of the things thatdoes come up and often is asked, is around thehistory of mindfulness and it’s Buddhist aspects andif there’s resistance there.
Because there actually has beenat least one that I know of, school that got introuble with the courts because they weredoing what they thought was Buddhist practice.
And there’s a lot to that.
For me, I mean I’mnot a Buddhist.
A lot of thesepractices were developed in a Buddhist tradition.
But for me.
It’s much wider thana Buddhist tradition.
This is about– I mean Ihaven’t used a word yet, I hope, that seems religious.
We’re talking about howto be good human beings.
And I’m happy to bring fromany tradition or anyplace, some type of practice whichdoesn’t have any– which won’t turn anybody intoa specific religion, but that’s going to help people.
So people are afraid of that.
Usually what I do isI’ll invite people to the training or towatch the kids doing it.
And pretty much always, they’relike, I could use this as well.
There was just abig court judgment down in LA Unified Schools,where there was a yoga program and they were tryingto get it kicked out.
And the judge ruledagainst, and said, yes, this seems like it comesfrom a Hindu tradition.
But it doesn’t haveany spiritual words or spiritual aims.
It’s just movementand breathing.
So I actually think that that’sprobably, in years to come, as mindfulness getshuge, there might be some court cases thatare going to be coming up on a larger scale.
And for me, as I saidwith the Texas Republican platform, who said we don’twant to teach critical thinking skills.
There’s both aresistance to kind, of is this religion,which I think is a really good question.
We don’t want to teachreligion in schools.
But there’s also a questionabout what mindfulness truly is, which is aself-inquiry practice.
And we’re teachingkids to question.
And a lot of people inschools are afraid of that.
For me personally, there’s alot about the school system that I question.
And if people reallyinquired deeply, they would actually kindof rip it up at the seams and transform it.
So a lot of people Ithink, and for good reason, are kind of afraid of adeep inquiry practice, both because they don’t want tolook inside of themselves, and they don’t really wantto look at the system that’s out of balance.
AUDIENCE: It’sreally interesting hearing about you areworking with young kids.
I was wondering if we cantake a step even before that and wonder what can, forinstance parents of very young children, like toddlers,preschoolers do to kind of work with them and kind ofget them in to a mode where they’re receptiveto mindfulness as they’re preparing to go into schoolswere mindfulness may or may not be part of the curriculum.
DANIEL RECHTSCHAFFEN: Yeah,thank you for the question.
So I just happened to grow up–I grew up in a place called the Omega Institute,which is on the East Coast is kind of like Esalen, ifyou know Esalen down the coast.
It’s kind of like a new agemeditation retreat center.
So I grew up with peoplelike gurus and shamans and meditators all around.
And my parents though,even though I lived there, I was never once told tomeditate or to do yoga or to do any of that.
I was just like a kid.
I could just do it.
And I actuallyreally like– even though I’m teachingkids mindfulness and I see the benefit of it,especially with younger kids and with parents, whatI really recommend is what my experiencewas with my upbringing, is that I had an incrediblyempathic and attuned parents.
And if I becamea good person, it was not because they toldme to focus and be nice.
It was because they werenice and focused on me.
And that’s the deepest–that’s the first thing I say to teachers as well.
When I trainteachers, I always– like I worked at a school in SanFrancisco this whole last year.
The first four months Ionly trained teachers.
I told them, don’t do anythingwith your kids different.
They all explained,and this always happens, that there was bigtransformations with the kids.
And there’s actually arecent research study that showed when elementaryschool teachers are trained in mindfulness,their kids actually act out less and have–like the kids transform, just because theteachers are being nicer.
So for parents,that’s the practice, is learning how to be presentwith all of the stress that having a youngchild has, learning how to work withreactivity, and not– basically the classic thingof like all of the things that your parents did butyou didn’t want to do, but you end up doinganyways, because it’s so hard to be with thoseemotions inside of ourselves.
OK, let’s break thiscycle and learn how to– I’m very much of the opinionthat the words that we end up saying to our kids are thewords that become the our kids’ inner voices, right? So how are we showing up? So it’s just a big callfor our own practice, our own emotional intelligence,our own mindfulness practice.
With very young kids, once,if you are really present, there’s some very fun games.
But they to be fun.
Like, you have a kid laydown and put a little Teddy bear on their belly.
And as they’rebreathing in and out, they feel it rising and falling.
Or M some fun kind of relaxationgames and little breathing techniques and kind offun kind of yoga movement.
But yeah, I guess I’ll endthe speech just by saying that the practice is yours.
That’s where thehuge transformation comes in, is whenwe take ownership of our own inner world andthen become that inner world.
Thank you all so muchfor all your time.