Responding with mindfulness.

May 8, 2016 5:14 pm Published by

As you may read on our Facebook and Twitter posts, we as a program find various mindfulness practices to benefit our young adults in many different aspects of their life. From one on one to group exercises, we have seen the benefits of using these techniques to help behavioral and general anxiety related issues among our community. From breathing techniques, to focusing on a specific emotion, we work with each individual in finding a mindfulness tool that directly benefits their way of thinking.


Mindfulness, in a simplified version, is paying attention to the present moment without judgement. While initially this is a hard concept to grasp for many, by practicing different techniques one can strengthen this skill. Our end goal with using these techniques is to help an individual demonstrate positive emotional self-regulation and enhance their ability to pay attention to their current surroundings. By addressing those aspects of their life, we hope to improve their ability to learn and implement the skills they need to become successful.


During mindfulness activities, we encourage our residents to direct their attention to a specific focus, such as a feeling or thought. By doing this, the hope is that the individual will become more aware of the present moment. For example, by focusing on the specific feeling of being sad, we can encourage an individual to respond to those feelings with positive expression instead of reacting with a negative behavior. Sounds easy, right?

By putting aside a few minutes of your day to think mindfully, you may be able to avoid reacting to situations in a manner that doesn’t benefit you in a positive way. Here are 3 easy ways that we use on an everyday basis to help our residents bring their emotions and thoughts to a more manageable mindset.


1. Take note of your breathing.


Have you ever been so worked up that your breaths become heavier and more and more frequent? For a lot of our residents, this can be the beginning stages of a behavioral issue. During different times of the day, try and focus on your breathing. Get a better understanding of how you breathe when you are calm versus how you breathe when you are feeling anxious. By repeatedly recognizing your breathing patterns, you can train yourself to respond better when you start feel stressed or anxious about something.


If your body is feeling anxious and you aren’t breathing normally, most likely you are going to respond in a less productive way. Once you start to feel your breathing increase, focus on taking slow and deep breaths to calm yourself down. You can count your breaths on your hand and fingers, or do so in your mind. We constantly recommend that a resident take a moment to focus on their breathing if they are feeling overwhelmed about a situation.


2.  Embrace your emotions.


A lot of the times there is one issue at hand and a person reacts to it with one emotion. Whether you were insulted and that made you sad, or a personal belonging was broken and you are angry. As humans, we are driven by our emotions.


With many people who lack strong emotional regulation skills, the problem occurs when they react extremely because of an emotion.  It is extremely common for many individuals with autism to act out negatively to their peers and family because of a situation that made them sad or angry, but have a hard time expressing what exactly is making them feel that way.


One of the ways we work with our residents is by focusing on the root of the issue. If there is a conflict between two residents, typically it has nothing to do with the specific conflict, but more so what has happened before that. If a comment was made earlier in the morning that made one resident sad, the likelihood of conflict between the residents later on in the day is extremely high.


A simple question that we focuses on is, “What is the emotion that you feeling?” Are you feeling sad? Are you angry? By recognizing the core emotion that is driving the behavior, we can reassure the individual that it is absolutely acceptable to have the emotion, but one needs to respond in a manner that is positive for growth.


3 Focus on your body.


For a lot of people, their body reacts to their emotional state of mind. If they are stressed or angry, their body tightens up. They may cross their arms and slump down when they are sad. We all wish to be relaxed and confident 100% of the time, but for many that is not the case.  A persons body is a great indicator of how a person is responding to their environment.


Recognizing how your body reacts to your emotions is a great way to take charge of the present moment. If you tighten up within a social setting, try to take a minute to open up your arms and legs. Be aware if you are starting to tense up and take the opportunity to do some stretches or poses that help loosing up your muscles. Often, if a resident is feeling stressed about a situation, we will suggest to take 5 minutes away from the group to get out some energy by either stretching or walking around.


Paying attention to your body, your emotions and your breathe are many ways you can help respond to a situation in a positive manner. The more you can work on how your body and mind react to a situation, the more you can positively respond mindfully.




Team Beacon Transitions




Beacon Transitions is a short term residential program that helps prepare young adults with ASD, aspergers, and other learning differences for a life of creative independence. We work with our residents by developing opportunities to learn, experience, and apply independent living skills in order to reach their true potential. If you have an interest in our program, reach out to us through our contact page, or email us at

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