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Heartsong offers teen mindfulness lessons

By Debbie Gardner Assistant Managing Editor EAST LONGMEADOW — There's no question that navigating your way from childhood to adulthood is stressful. Just ask any teen or pre-teen. There's the need to fit in with your friends, to do well in school, to please your parents and other adults and to figure out who you are and what you think you want to be — all colored in our modern society by the often unrealistic images of teen life splashed across TV, movies and magazines by round-the-clock media programming. It's no wonder teens complain about feeling tired, anxious and, sometimes, a little depressed. If this describes you, or a teen you care about, an upcoming teen mindfulness workshop at Heartsong Yoga might provide some positive coping strategies. Led by Leslie Smith Frank, a certified physician's assistant and UMass Medical Center-trained stress reduction instructor who has taught mindfulness classes at Heartsong since 2009, the eight-week workshop will introduce students to the concept of using mindfulness techniques to help alleviate stress. The workshop begins with a free introductory class on Jan. 10 at 7:30 p.m. The class will then run from Jan. 17 to March 21, with a break the weeks of Feb. 7 and 21. Tuition, which includes a home practice book and CD, is $90. The introductory class gives teens "a chance to get a sense of what [mindfulness] is, and to meet me, too," Frank said. "[It's an opportunity] to come and find out what mindfulness meditation is, and what it isn't." "Mindful practices are very, very simple," Frank continued. "[This class] will allow them to see that they don't have to enter into some special mind state, or go anywhere special to find some way to deal with these stresses." "It teaches them that the breath and awareness of the breath is a real ally" in dealing with everyday pressures, Frank added. She said the mindfulness practices she will be sharing with the teens in the eight-week workshop include not only awareness of their breathing, but also several types of meditation and simple yoga. Frank said as they learn to employ the mindfulness practices, teens may find they experience better concentration, increased self-confidence, an improvement in their academic performance and "more composure in crazy times." "People can see for themselves [by looking up the concept of mindfulness] on the Internet how very practical and useful it can be, and see it can be a way of dealing with yourself a little more gently, of being compassionate and being OK with who you are," Frank said. For more information about the teen mindfulness workshop, visit Frank's Web site at www.map-center.org or call 237-6526. To register for the eight-week class, send a check for the amount of the event to: Heartsong Yoga, 264 North Main St., Suite 5, East Longmeadow, MA 01028 or call Heartsong at 525-0720. Frank will also be teaching a workshop for adults at her own Mindfulness Awareness Practice Center at 133 Pleasantview Ave. in Longmeadow beginning with a free introductory class on Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. That workshop begins Jan 18 at 7 p.m. or Jan. 20 at 9 a.m. Tuition for the workshop is $300 and includes a CD and workbook.

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