As part of an English 12 Independent Project I explored the concept of Mindfulness and the ability for adolescents to be “present in the moment.” I was drawn to these 2 concepts firstly due to my brother. My brother’s high-functioning disability ironically enables him to live day by day, not influenced by his past or future life. He has a relatively carefree lifestyle – something that I personally want to adopt. A summer trip to India and a kayaking trip with the Advanced Outdoor Education Club at my school also illustrated to me the value of both being “still” in the present moment and reflecting internally. Experiencing the benefits of tranquility during these trips, my goal for Grade 12 was to be more “present in the moment.” I started the year on this note and subsequently finished the year examining this very same topic!
The original question that my project focused on was: What factors make living in the “present moment” an unattainable ideal for adolescents in developed countries? Firstly, I conducted research by reading articles and books such as The Mindful Teen. Asking fellow students questions such as “What thoughts occupy your brain in the short-term?” and “What conflicts are troubling you in the long-term?” I also collected my own data. Furthermore, during this part of my project I asked students to draw their Brainspace, an exercise that allowed students to translate their emotions and thoughts into images. With my research collected, I then developed 3 conclusions. These conclusions highlight a few obstacles teenagers encounter that inhibit being “present in the moment.”
This project has been incredibly meaningful for me. Not only have I fortified my personal Mindfulness skills and practices but I have also spread Mindfulness out to my community in an appealing way. The response after presenting my project to my class was surprisingly positive; many students asked for copies of my recordings to use in university next year. I use the term “surprisingly” because when I first expressed my project idea there was some skepticism. Many students were unable to go beyond the stigma of Mindfulness being a “hokey” practice for individuals that are “soft” or “in need of help.” This was definitely a challenge I had to overcome in my project.
Needless to say, this project has been an incredible opportunity to explore human nature and adolescent behaviours. I hope some of my work is able to aid my fellow peers in living more peacefully and mindfully every day! ☺
– Manpreet Deol (York House School, Vancouver, British Columbia)