California is awash with yoga and meditation studios but there is one, unique class taking place in San Francisco that is reaching out to and providing mindfulness teachings to an often neglected community, at-risk and homeless young people.
The UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, in partnership with Larkin Street Youth Services, has developed an innovative mindfulness programs for at-risk and homeless youth.
The mindfulness course, designed and developed specifically for this target group by mindfulness expert, Forest Fein, the Larkin Street Youth Mindfulness Program, gives students the opportunity to learn and develop skills that will support them as they step towards moving out of homelessness.
Larkin Street provides youth between the ages of 12 and 24 with the help they need to rebuild their lives. Each year, more than 3,000 youth walk through their doors seeking help. Larkin Street gives them a place where they can feel safe; rebuild their sense of self-respect, trust, and hope; learn school, life and job skills; and find the confidence to build a future.
Using a combination of mindfulness, yoga and other practices, Forest Fein has developed a programme that supports both the physical and mental health of urban youth.
Forest Fein said: “When you think of someone who is homeless the first thing that comes to mind is someone who doesn’t have a roof over their head. But there’s also the inner journey. There’s the outer journey home finding shelter, and there’s the inner journey. How do you deal with the stress of re-establishing a sense of home within yourself?
“The Larkin Street Youth Mindfulness Program bring mindfulness and yoga and a lot of different practices for what I talk about cultivating the heart. How you develop kindness, compassion and optimism.”
Through a regular twice-a-week practice over six months, students develop a yoga practice that helps them to develop self-regulation and reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress and trauma and cultivate greater resiliency, empowerment, balance, connectedness and inner peace.
Since the programme’s launch, an estimated 130 students have participated in the 7-week and 6-month programmes in addition to an estimated 400+ students in the drop-in classes.
Having previously worked in advertising “making lots of money and life feeling pretty meaningless”, as he says, Forest Fein began his own personal journey having discovered the power of meditation in 1999 and experienced its transformative effects.
Rosalind Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She is a writer who specialises in sustainable lifestyle and living, music, entertainments and wellbeing. Rosalind also works as a spiritual life coach and intuitive advisor helping people to become who they truly are and manifest their heart & soul’s desires into their lives: www.rosalindmedea.com