Teens Crave Mindful Moments – Mercer Island Schools

Arlen Levy and Lynn Brazg have been piloting mindfulness programs in middle and high school classrooms in the Mercer Island School District in Washington State. They find that the students crave the quiet time to just BE. One class actually applauds at the end of each lesson!

teenArlen and Lynn are convinced of the benefits mindfulness holds for teens. Lessons that offer increasing levels of self-reflection help students become aware of their bodies, thoughts, and emotions.   Ultimately, teens apply their observations to manage stress – by taking a mindful moment to pause, notice their stress signals, and breathe. Teens can be highly reactive; mindfulness skills help them temper  automatic reactions and make more thoughtful choices.



Levels of Mindfulness Practices

  • Listen – to a bell/to surroundings
  • Anchor the breath – focus on a place it is moving in and out (nostrils/chest/belly)
  • Be aware of the body
  • Send kind thoughts to oneself and to others
  • Notice feelings, without getting swept away by the emotion; be open and curious
  • Notice thoughts of past/present/future
  • Notice labeling things as pleasant/unpleasant; I like/don’t like

Feedback on Mindfulness Lessons – from Student Surveys

What students learned about themselves

  • “I learned that I need to do more mindfulness because I’m always nervous.” 12th grader
  • “I learned that I blow things out of proportion and end up stressing.” 11th grader
  • “I learned that I had no real method for dealing with things when I was stressed.” 10th grader
  • “I realized that I hold it all in until I can’t anymore.” 12th grader
  • “That I am distracted easily.” 10th grader
  • “I was surprised to notice how much my mind is working and how it tries to do things fast which creates stress.” 12th grader
  • “I became more aware of how tense and distracted I could be.” 10th grader

What students learned about focus

  • “I never new how much my mind wandered around.”12th grader
  • “(I learned) to just keep breathing slowly and trying not to wander.” 7th grader
  • “(It was helpful) when our minds wandered off and we had to gain focus on breathing again.” 7th grader
  • “That anytime I can just stop, close my eyes and listen to my surroundings.” 7th grader
  • “I learned that I need to focus on the present more.  I can’t always be worrying about the future.”11th grader

What students learned about self-calming

  • “I honestly LOVE following my breath. It keeps me calm.” 7th grader
  • “I learned to follow my breath and calm down when I get mad.” 7th grader
  • “Never make a decision right away when you are angry, and just breathe.” 10th grader
  • “I learned that if you follow your breath while you have a headache, it helps.” 7th grader
  • “This program helped me relax, and I even showed friends and family mindful breathing.” 11th grader
  • “This really works, and it’s something you can do when you’re stressed.” 12th grader

What students learned about compassion

  • “(I liked) being more positive and sending heartfulness to me and others.” 7th grader
  • “(I was surprised by) how hard it is to wish heartfulness on yourself.”12th grader
  • “I did feel surprised when it started to feel easier to send good wishes to the people I don’t like.” 11th grader
  • “I can do more to benefit myself and others.” 10th grader


Lynne and Arlen draw from their extensive experiences with youth, their own mindfulness practices, and mindfulness education training. They use a mix of curriculum from programs such as Mindful Schools and Still Quiet Place.

Lynne Brazg, M.Ed.: pilot programs in the Mercer Island School District, Washington State, at Denny Middle School, Crest and Cleveland High Schools. She is retired from many years as a school counselor. As a parent coach, Lynne works with women in transition, parents of kids of all ages as well as mothers and infants in a group called Listening Mothers, and partners with the Community of Mindful Parents.  For information about her mindfulness groups for parents, see her website: www.mindfulparentcoaching.com

Arlen Levy, MA: pilot programs in the Mercer Island School District, Washington State, at Denny Middle School, Crest and Cleveland High Schools. Since retiring from 30 years as a Learning Specialist, Arlen is tutoring and has been teaching mindfulness, most recently in Seattle and Mercer Island schools. You can reach her at 

Blog Series – Mercer Island Panel Discussion

  1. Mindfulness in the Mercer Island Schools Introduction to a Panel Discussion held on May 22 in Mercer Island, WA. Includes background of presenters and links to mindfulness curriculums.
  2. Teaching Mindfulness and Heartfulness in Mercer Island Elementary Schools.  Teaching the core mindfulness practice and creating a mindfulness community at the elementary school level.  6.30.14
  3. Teens Crave Mindful Moments – Mercer Island Schools.  Teaching mindfulness at the middle and high school levels.  7.14.14
  4. Mindfulness in Education Research Highlights.  Resources for research on mindfulness education.  10.15.14