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Jill-Botle-Taylor, Brain Scientist and TED Talk Celebrity

Jill-Botle-Taylor, Brain Scientist and TED Talk Celebrity

“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” – Jill Botte Taylor, M.D., Brain Scientist and TED Talk celebrity

BrainWise skills make it possible to achieve a blissful state of mind and a number of teachers of mindfulness are using the 10 Wise Ways to help students learn contemplation and relaxation.  In this month’s newsletter I would like to talk about this application.  

The link between stress and chronic disease continues to be documented, and the serious outcomes of these findings spurred pediatrician Nadine Burke, M.D., to evaluate children’s levels of stress as part of their medical history. Her pediatric clinic in a low-income neighborhood in San Francisco offers not only medical care, but also courses on mindfulness and other relaxation techniques.   Her efforts were recognized as groundbreaking in a recent article published in the Washington Post.

Dr. Burke, a graduate of the University of California at Davis who did her residency at Stanford, said she had never heard about research  linking childhood trauma to an increased risk of contracting seven of the ten leading causes of death in the United States.  “When I did, I wanted to shout about it from the rooftops.”

BrainWise instructors know this feeling.  They also work with children and families who face stress  as an obstacle to their health and well-being, and it is often a challenge to “shout about it” and get programs like BrainWise into their classrooms and clinics.  A number of instructors who teach mindfulness have integrated BrainWise into their programs, and praise how the 10 Wise Ways make it easier for students to understand contemplation and how learning BrainWise enhances their outcomes.

Master Teacher Dell Brooks working with his students at Colorado High School Charter

Master Teacher Dell Brooks working with his students at Colorado High School Charter

Dell Brooks, a Colorado high school teacher who teaches contemplative thought, said that BrainWise concepts and language help his students understand abstract concepts of mindfulness.  His students come from difficult situations, and giving them tools to address adversity has helped them graduate and succeed in their lives.  He and other instructors say that when they run into students, even years later, they hear stories about how BrainWise has helped the students and how they continue to use its thinking skills.

Indian teachers in training

Indian teachers in training

Dr. Marga Theophil has introduced BrainWise into the Mindfulness Practice workshops she conducts for teachers in India.  She is pleased with  how it has been received,  and says that program graduates are emailing her with descriptions of how the 10 Wise Ways have helped their students gain control of their emotions.  One instructor said that the “completion of this task makes the studies part follow easily.”

Oprah Winfrey is a longtime advocate for mindfulness, and her network (OWN) has aired a number of programs on the subject.  Her interviews with John Kabat-Zinn led to links to two videos that are  great resource for teaching ways to Exit Your Emotions Elevator.  The videos are produced by Wavecrest Films.

The first, “Just Breathe”, is a three-minute video that features elementary school children.  The second video, “Release”, shows middle school students talking about anxiety and how mindful meditation and breathing can help ease their mind from stress and anger.

The difficulties our students and clients face are always stressful, and as Dr. Harris shared, the result can be life-threatening.  It is exciting to know that you are teaching ways that help lift this weight.

disseminationMatt Sena is a BrainWise champion, and a member of the BrainWise Board of Directors. He is inspired in his work by thinking about the following formula, given to him by a former professor:

●Think about how many new people you impact in a year when you teach a BrainWise class, hold a BrainWise workshop, or counsel individuals and families.

●Next, think about the impact they will have on at least one other person — perhaps it’s the person with whom they have their primary interactions, or a friend or family member in need of support.

●Multiply that person by one or more, because there could be a generational effect, where children teach other siblings, or parents teach their children, spouse, or other family members. Then you will have an estimate of how many people you can impact in a year.

●Then times that estimated number by the years you teach or provide counseling – and then think about your impact on others.

This formula is guaranteed to jump start any bad day!

BrainWise instructors have a wide array of popular games that offer exciting ways to help students and clients practice using The 10 Wise Ways.  At a BrainWise site in Denver, high school students are used to reinforce BrainWise at a nearby elementary school.  In order to make the learning more fun, the high school students played BrainWise Jeopardy with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders who had been taught BrainWise in their classrooms.

For this project, with the help of the BrainWise instructors, the mentors created their own materials and inserted customized BrainWise questions into the Jeopardy format.

First, they identified five topics for the headings.  Because the game was part of an after school program, they included a fitness heading – “GET PHYSICAL”.    Other headings were “JUST GETTING STARTED,” KNOW YOUR BRAINWISE,” FACT OR OPINION,” AND “COMMUNICATION.”

Then the high school mentors divided the elementary school students into two teams of fifteen students each.  Each team picked a student to represent their team on different questions. The chosen students selected a heading, picked a question, and used others on the team for support.  Each heading had questions under four monetary categories ranging from $100 to $400 and the instructors inserted increasingly difficult questions behind each of the monetary signs.  It was an exciting and fun way to reinforce what they had learned.

BrainWise Jeopardy is a powerful teaching tool.  The headings and statements can be changed, and can be created to be as easy or as difficult as needed.  Competitions between classes can be held, with winning teams answering more difficult questions.  Templates for a wide range of games can be found on the Internet or teachers can create their own.  Either way, students have fun while learning to make decisions using the wise ways.

Please let us know how you use games to teach BrainWise, and we will share them on www.brainwise-plc.org.

 

Prefrontal Cortex HighlightBefore starting a private practice, veteran BrainWise instructor Pat Austin, LCSW, taught the program to high school students with special needs. The students attended a public high school, but their classes were held in a contained classroom. They shared the hallways, lunchroom and other facilities with the general student population. David, the son of schizophrenic parents, had been in Ms. Austin’s class for years. She often wondered how much he was able to retain, and she found out after David had an incident in the hallway when he thought flying clocks were coming to steal his brain. Frightened, he started shouting about the clocks. His classmate guided him through the crowded hallway to Mrs. Austin’s office, where David fell on the floor in fetal position, hitting his forehead with his fist and saying, “I need to find the green, I need to find the green.” When she said she did not know what he meant, his classmate said, “Yes you do! He wants to find his wizard brain!” In class, students colored the prefrontal cortex/wizard brain green, and David wanted to use his Wizard Brain to get rid of the flying clocks. Mrs. Austin called his therapist. Like his parents, David was diagnosed with schizophrenia and put on medication.

Braille Brain

Braille Brain

10 wise ways in Braille

10 wise ways in Braille

Aurora Central High school in Colorado serves a high needs population, including refugees from all over the world.  The school has 300 IEP (Individualized Education Programs) students, and a small number are blind or have visual impairments. School psychologist Karyn Singley Blair is a veteran BrainWise instructor, and serves on the district’s Crisis Team and Brain Injury Response Team. She shared teaching tools they are using with the visually impaired students, including a Braille brain, a Braille Constellation of Support, and a Braille Emotions Elevator.

Braille emotions elevator

Braille emotions elevator

 

Vashi workshop 5After a Rotarian gave Dr. Marguerite (Marga) Theophil  a copy of How To Be BrainWise, Marga immediately saw how teaching the  program’s 10 Wise Ways  would enhance the work she and other educators were doing with children and families across a wide spectrum of populations in India.  She raised funds, purchased course materials, and held training workshops for them.  Attached are pictures taken at a recent workshop she held in Vashi.
Marguerite Theophil, PhD, is training educators in India to teach BrainWise CPR to children, youth, and adults in urban and rural communities. She reports that the teachers love the BrainWise approach and find it complements the Mindful Practices sessions they teach. Teachers find that adding the 10 Wise Ways gives them a powerful and effective teaching tool that helps them, as well as their students.
Dr. Theophil is the founder of WEAVE, an organization that helps individuals by teaching, learning, and connecting. Here is what she says about why she started teaching BrainWise:
I work as a Personal Growth Coach with clients in one-on-one sessions and also teach Mindfulness Practice to groups. I learned that so many of them do not use any form of thinking skills in their decision making! I found that BrainWise it helps them realize they could be more in control of events and strong emotions, rather than let those things control them. I found the two ways really did feed into, nourish & support each other.
Vashi workshop 1 Vashi workshop 8Vashi workshop 4

Marilyn Welsh, Ph.D.

Marilyn Welsh, Ph.D.

University of Northern Colorado professor and executive functions expert Marilyn Welsh, PhD, presented results on research of BrainWise taught to homeless men at the 2016 International Neuropsychological Society meetings in Boston, Massachusetts.   The Treatment group, taught the BrainWise
program, included 210 males.  The smaller Comparison group had 61 men.  The groups did not differ significantly on age, race, or education.  The objective of the project was to evaluate the effectiveness of BrainWise and to measure changes, if any, in self-reported executive functions, problem solving skills, and coping self-efficacy  of the participants.

The results found that teaching BrainWise to homeless men was related to significant improvements in executive functions as measured by emotional control, planning, inhibition of impulses, working memory, task monitoring, and self-monitoring; coping self-efficacy and knowledge of critical thinking skills.  The comparison group exhibited a much smaller set of improvements and decreased problem solving skills.  For a copy of the poster, click BrainWise INS 2016 FINAL

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Dr Li

chinese girls

Xiaoliang Li, M.D., translated the BrainWise curriculum to Mandarin in 2000, and today is teaching  the 10 Wise Ways as part of a tobacco prevention/cessation program for youth funded by the Bloomberg Foundation.   Dr. Li uses Wechat, a mobile text and communications service popular in China.  She will be using WeChat  to connect  with BrainWise.  Prior to founding Pioneers in Health, Dr. Li was a professor of public health at Kunming Medical College, where she trained instructors and taught BrainWise in Kunming and rural areas to youth and adults, including girls targeted by sex traffickers.  She presented her work at a Chinese Women’s Leadership Conference in Hong Kong.

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Stanford professor Robert Sapolsky, PhD, is an expert on the brain.  The following article on stress and its negative effect on empathy supports the importance of being low or off your emotions elevator in order to make good choices. The article discusses research that explains why individuals who are considerate of others and show empathy — Wise Way #10 and a higher level thinking skill — must be in control of their stress, as well as the many emotions related to stress.

 

 empathy Humans—and mice—are much more likely to feel empathy toward friends than strangers. New research finds that stress hormones are to blame, writes Robert M. Sapolsky Photo: Getty Images

Feeling someone else’s pain can alter how we feel about our own.

SapolskyBy  Robert M. Sapolsky

The Wall Street Journal  Jan. 16, 2015

Among the many contradictions of humans, some of the more striking ones concern empathy. Our hearts break at a disaster on another continent, and we send money to people whose faces we will never see. We look after the well-being of our pets with deep, empathic concern. We feel the pain of characters in a novel. But at the same time, we can walk past a homeless person sleeping on the sidewalk without noticing him. It’s no news that we’re one very complicated species.     For full article, click here

jennifer dealJennifer Deal is a research scientist and author of What Millennials Want from Work. Research collected by her for the Center for Creative Leadership contradicts popular opinion that categorizes young people as entitled, arrogant and unwilling to learn. She reports the good news that young people recognize their deficits and identify areas where they need to improve, including:

Her suggestions for closing the performance gap are two-fold: students need to take responsibility to work on work skills inside and outside the classroom, and schools need to provide students with the tools and support they need to achieve proficiency in the workplace. BrainWise instructors recognize that a more specific answer would be to teach students the 10 Wise Ways and have them apply them to a wide range of workplace problems. Employers agree that improvement in these areas, as well as others, are needed. (www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2014/11/12.)
BrainWise instructors recognize that individuals who master the 10 Wise Ways know how to perform and be successful not only at work, but outside work as well. BrainWise helps close the gaps identified by both millennials and employers.

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