Maandelijks archief: september 2016

wild flowers

Very little grows on jagged rock
Be ground
Be crumbled
So wild flowers will
come up where you are
You have been stony
for too many years
Try something different


Edith 294

Mindfulness Praktijk Edith te Hennepe | 06-15087237 |

Artikel over zoeken van verbinding met kinderen die afwijkend gedrag vertonen

Artikel over zoeken van verbinding met kinderen die afwijkend gedrag vertonen

Mitch Abblett en Joseph D’Antuono hebben een wijs en liefdevol artikel geschreven over kinderen die  afwijkend gedrag vertonen. Je kunt het hier lezen:

Connecting with Challenging Kids by Leaning in to Discomfort

Off-putting behavior can make us feel awkward—but it’s a message, an unintentional way that children and teens telegraph their emotional pain. When we lean in to that pain, the results change the conversation.

By  and  tunedin/Adobe Stock

tunedin/Adobe Stoc

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia, author of Living, Loving and Learning’ (1982)

I (Mitch Abblett) have 20 years of clinical experience with a range of challenging clients, from teen sex offenders to combat veterans to teens at intensive residential and therapeutic school settings. I’m a licensed psychologist who’s spoken nationally and internationally—I literally wrote the book on mindful management of difficult clients.

And I couldn’t even start a conversation with my own daughter, only six years old.

As I gripped the steering wheel and caught glimpses of her as she sat in the back seat, munching away on a bag of stale popcorn, I found myself going stale as well—my courage for breaking open the possible Pandora’s box of her pent-up angst over her own challenges at school was getting the better of me again.

I’d spent decades stepping into minefields of complex and volatile topics in my clinical work, yet my fear of tripping the wires of pain and discomfort for my daughter (and for me), was stopping me short.

Most of you reading this are (or will be) in a caregiving role (personal or professional) with a child who is struggling. When faced with a child or teen you know who suffers from an emotional or behavioral condition—or even if their situation is not “diagnosable,” yet you’re convinced they are struggling in a significant way—then it’s important to consider how willing you are to lean into the situation and devote the emotional energy to addressing the child directly. Is this child’s suffering an elephant in the room that’s blatantly clear and left unattended? Younger children need adults to set the tone for the “rules” for managing behavior—they need your explicit guidance. Teens (though they still need rules) may be struggling with a long history of not being understood—it may be part of their emerging “identity.” They may not trust your initial efforts to reach out to them as authentic and may brush you off.

If you’re a parent, family member, teacher, clinician, or in some other caregiver role, ask yourself how much addressing the child or teen’s suffering matters to you. If you find yourself convinced of your desire to help, check the following list of common obstacles. These are thoughts that often surface for caregivers, effectively scuttling their ability to be effective.

Self-Assessment of Caregiver Inner Obstacles to Helping:

  • “I’m not good at this stuff—I won’t find the right words.”
  • “I’m not an expert or trained at this.”
  • “I don’t want to overstep my boundaries.”
  • “I don’t want to make a mountain out of a molehill—I don’t want to create a problem when one isn’t there.”
  • “I don’t want to trigger a huge meltdown.”
  • “I don’t know what to say.”
  • “Somebody else will talk with them, so I don’t need to.”
  • “They look fine, if something was needed from me, they would tell me.”
  • “I tried this once before and it didn’t go well.”
  • “It’s not the right time/place.”
  • “I don’t have this condition, so who am I to try and help?”
  • “I don’t know if this is really necessary in this instance.”

If you noted one or more of the above thoughts as a common companion when you’ve been face-to-face with an agitated, upset, disruptive, or withdrawn child or teen, then it’s no wonder you’ve found it challenging to lean into the situation with full intention. Such thinking has a way of stalling the best of us. It would be completely understandable if you came toward the teen either too much “heat” (i.e. trying to force things to change) or not enough “warmth” (i.e. losing track of your heart-strings and bowing out in some way).

Creating a Foundation for Change: Lean in to Discomfort

The child or teen’s behavior may be off-putting or uncomfortable for you. But it is a “message”—it’s their unintentional way of telegraphing their emotional pain. Discomfort and inconvenience to the side, ask yourself: When it comes to this kid’s suffering, am I willing acknowledge the elephant in the room?

The child or teen’s behavior may be off-putting or uncomfortable for you. But it is a “message”—it’s their unintentional way of telegraphing their emotional pain.

The act of taking the time to even ask or check up on the child helps far more than you will ever realize. Trust yourself. You’re doing right here. You’re doing good work just thinking about this, and the their needs. Even if you are wrong about the need to help in a particular situation, just the willingness to ask pays so many dividends down the line in the child’s life. It plants the seed of compassion exactly when they needed to believe that their challenges would be heard. It teaches them that such caring is possible, and helps them receive compassion, and perhaps spread it to others. They learn to say to themselves something like: “Wow…Mr/Ms. X really is trying to understand what’s happening to me … they might really care…”. In response to such a gift, the child or teen might even venture believing that they’re not as “defective” or “crazy” as they might have assumed. It opens up a new line of communication. “Maybe I can talk with other adults in the future now and not hide it…maybe I can even start opening up about stuff.” Mindfulness of our thoughts and feelings in awkward or uncomfortable caregiving situations creates this foundation for compassion and change for children.

As in the list above, you might say to yourself, “But I’m not trained in this. I’ll screw it up. The kid will see through me and know I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’ll make it worse. I’ll end up hurting their feelings by saying something unintentionally hurtful.”

Think of it this way—when you’re compassionately and mindfully working through tough situations with kids and teens, you’re not the “expert” adult—instead, you’re just a fellow human being.

No, you’re not an expert in this field (or maybe you are and still have doubts!). But expertise or acumen is not what you’re not trying to prove here, anyway. That’s not the role you’re seeking to achieve. You’re not assuming ultimate responsibility for this child or teen’s inner experience, nor should you. While parents are responsible for kids’ welfare, only the child themselves is in charge of how they think and feel (especially true with teens). But how you manage yourself—how willing you are to break silence or slow your reactive “get your act together” comments—determines what ingredients they will have to work with in future situations. Your compassionate courage can set the stage for them taking healthy risks and working through their own discomfort. Younger kids will benefit from the comfort and containment your interventions provide. Teens will increasingly respect your willingness to be respect them enough to be authentic. Think of it this way—when you’re compassionately and mindfully working through tough situations with kids and teens, you’re not the “expert” adult—instead, you’re just a fellow human being.

Obviously, if a child or teen does begin sharing with you and the content is highly “clinical” or safety-related (e.g. suicide, self-harm, substance abuse, or other high-risk behavior), it’s important to reach out to parents and experts in the child’s life. But many of us don’t wade in at all assuming someone else already has—that someone else has this under control. It’s a form of bystander apathy that has literally contributed to preventable deaths, and can deaden a kid’s faith in adults’ willingness to help.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”—George Bernard Shaw

So when a child or teen is anxious, disruptive, shut down, or says they “don’t care,” the key is for you to lean into your discomfort and do or say something from a stance of mindful awareness that says that you indeed do care. Here’s the basic message to the them: “I want you to know that I am here to help you in any way that I can as your (teacher, uncle, mentor, insert-your-role-here)—to just make your time in my presence as comfortable as I possibly (within reason) can. I genuinely care.”  

Use the practice below to lean into awkwardness or discomfort in the moment and take that leap with the kid. And then, be willing to do so again because a lot of kids (teens in particular) won’t believe that a first attempt was genuine, or that anyone will indeed stay in their corner. You have to be willing to keep showing up.

Compassionate, mindful communication with children who are struggling does not mean you’re going to be a pushover who lets kids get away with anything. Yes, hold teens accountable for the effects of behavior on others, and be willing to do so with a stance of compassion, inner flexibility, and a willingness to focus on their needs, not yours.

From the back seat, my daughter let me know she didn’t want to talk about her troubles at school. “I don’t want to talk about it, Daddy!” she yelled. She was quiet for a while, and so was I.
“It makes me embarrassed,” she said, quietly, like a small animal venturing out from its safe haven.

We then talked the rest of the way home about how tough such feelings can be, and I had the beautiful experience of listening as she risked walking gingerly over new ground with her budding emotionality. I got to plant a seed and watch in wonder as it sprouted far sooner than I thought possible. I needed only be willing to bear witness to my own discomfort without flinching. I just needed to lean in.

Mindfulness Practice: Seeing Behind Bad Behavior

When you simply know a child or teen is in need, and the circumstances seem awkward, make you anxious, or it feels as though it’s really better left to others, consider practicing the following. Consider “eyeing the prize” behind the kid’s behavior by reaching out to the vulnerable part of them that prompted the situation in the first place. This soft spot is truly the “prize,” because if you help the child or teen hold it with compassion, incredible things can come of it to expand their life.

Use this practice to lean into awkwardness or discomfort in the moment and take that leap with the kid. And then, be willing to do so again because a lot of kids (teens in particular) won’t believe that a first attempt was genuine, or that anyone will indeed stay in their corner. You have to be willing to keep showing up.

1. Establish mindful PRESENCE . . . Notice sensations of anxiety, discomfort or frustration that are showing up in your body as you approach the child or teen. Let the sensations be just as they are. Breathe into them.

2. REMEMBER . . . this kid is suffering, and did not choose it (and even if they’re doing something negative or disruptive “on purpose” in that moment, they didn’t wake up in the morning with a master scheme to mess with everyone).

3. INTERVENE from the “ZERO POINT” (i.e. drop all your agendas for meeting your own needs and making yourself comfortable, and focus on what matters most for this young person). INTERVENE by:

  • Seeing the “truth” (i.e. specifically stating what you see happening without any labels or judgment—what is the child or teen doing?)
  • Speaking the truth for you (i.e. saying that you are concerned and want to help, be supportive, listen, etc.)
  • Speaking the truth for them (i.e. saying that you have no way of knowing what it feels like for them, but that you’re curious and willing to listen without judgment or a sense that the kid is “bad”)
  • Being the truth (i.e. actually listen to truly understand the child or teen versus waiting to make your point; also following through on doing things that support, advocate, or give assistance to them; and also be a model of flexibility, courage and compassion with your own behavior).

4. EMPOWER the child or teen by letting them know you are confident they can manage this, that it’s okay to accept help, and that the choice for how they experience and express what’s hard for them is always up to them.


Buscaglia, L. (1982). Living, Loving and Learning. New York: Ballantine.

Train je geest om pijn te verlichten

Train je geest om pijn te verlichten

Pijn hoort bij het leven, maar het hoeft je leven niet te beheersen. Herstel je relatie tot pijn met deze strategien van   en .man sitting in meditation, pain radiating off various parts of his body

Alleen al het horen (of lezen) van het woord kan reacties oproepen die tot pijn leiden. Pijn laat zichzelf zien in verschillende vormen: acuut of chronisch, intens of mild. Het heeft invloed op ons, zowel fysiek als emotioneel. De ervaring van pijn is onvermijdelijk. Het is onderdeel van het leven. Ondanks dat proberen we een significant deel van ons leven pijn te vermijden of weg te duwen.

Wat zou er kunnen gebeuren wanneer we stoppen met weerstand bieden tegen pijn? Overweeg de volgende tips om met pijn om te gaan, wat voor pijn dan ook, nu of in de toekomst:

1. Vertrouw je lichaam
Het voelen van pijn betekent niet dat je lichaam faalt. In feite doet je lichaam juist zijn/haar werk door jou te informeren dat er iets aan de hand is. Door te luisteren naar de wijsheid van je lichaam kun je op een effectieve manier omgaan met pijn.

2. Stop met bieden van weerstand
De meesten onder ons bieden weerstand tegen pijn als natuurlijke reactie op pijn. Door pijn weg te duwen of door pijn te ontkennen. Echter, de ontkenning van pijn zorgt er voor dat er een extra laag van ongemak wordt gevormd bovenop een al bestaande onplezierige situatie. Dan ervaar je niet alleen de signalen van pijn van je lichaam, maar zul je ook moeten omgaan met je geest die jouw aan het overtuigen is dat de pijn niet daadwerkelijk bestaat.

De pijn uitnodigen is de eerste stap om pijn te begrijpen en er mee om te gaan op een vriendelijke manier.

3. Zet een schijnwerper op de pijn
Wanneer je pijn bewust herkent en erkent, heb je de mogelijkheid om het te onderzoeken. Dit is de kwaliteit van het openen voor een ervaring die op het eerste gezicht angst oproept. Waar is de pijn precies? Hoe voelt het aan? Welke energie hoort erbij? Hoe verandert de pijn van moment tot moment? Wordt het intenser of juist milder. Hoe ziet de pijn er uit? Is er sprake van: warmte, kleur, tinteling, vermoeidheid, spanning, druk, etc?

4. Duik in alle aspecten van de pijn
Pijn is complexer dan je denkt. Breng interesse, nieuwsgierigheid en aandacht naar pijn. Dit helpt om lang genoeg bij de ervaring van pijn te blijven met vriendelijke aandacht voor het ongemak. Neem pauzes in dit onderzoek. Hoe meer verschillende aspecten van pijn je leert herkennen, hoe meer je zult begrijpen dat pijn van nature veranderlijk is.

5. Laat het stromen
Laat de verwachting los dat pijn doet wat jij wilt dat het doet (weggaan op een moment dat jij dat wilt). Pijn volgt zijn eigen weg. Het begriijpen van alle subtiele veranderingen, alle verschillende energieen en facetten zal je helpen om pijn te ervaren als een stroom van ervaringen.

woman practices tai chi


7. Ademruimte
Bewust ademen helpt om spanning los te laten die vaak rondom pijn wordt ervaren. Geef vriendelijke aandacht het ademen, ervaar alle veranderende sensaties in je lichaam, terwijl je de aandacht bij de adem hebt. Sta jezelf toe om de uitademing iets langer te laten zijn dan de inademing. Dit heeft dusdanige invloed op het zenuwstels dat er een bewuste kalmte ontstaat. Dit maakt dat pijnsignalen nog effectiecer kunnen worden onderzocht.


Dit is een vrije vertaling van (onderdelen van) een engelstalig artikel van   en  in het October 2016 issue of Mindful magazine.


Mindfulness Praktijk Edith te Hennepe
edith@mindfulness-praktijk | 06-15087237 |

Meditatie Bewustzijn van de adem

Meditatie Bewustzijn van de adem

Nu alle activiteiten op het werk, op school en met de sporten weer zijn begonnen, merk ik dat het fijn is om af en toe even te stoppen en mezelf weer te verbinden met het hier en nu. Dat doe ik graag met een meditatie. De meditatie: Bewustzijn van de adem helpt me hierbij. Het is een korte, maar effectieve meditatie om weer even helemaal terug te komen bij mezelf. Als ik deze aandacht aan mezelf geef, komt dat ook ten goede aan de aandacht binnen mijn relaties thuis en op het werk.

Wil je een keer ervaren of deze meditatie jou ook kan helpen? Klik dan op onderstaande link.

Bewustzijn van de adem-Edith te Hennepe


 Mindfulness Praktijk Edith te Hennepe
06-15087237 | | Wageningen