Sometimes It’s Just a Breath: Reflections from MBA Instructor Kamal Ahmed
Meditation and mindfulness transforms young people’s lives, and our instructors witness this firsthand. One of them, Kamal Ahmed, has taught in MBA programs in schools and juvenile detention centers for two and a half years. He shared some of his stories about how youth respond to meditation.
At the end of every ten-week session, MBA instructors ask the youth what they thought about the program and what they learned. During one of these review sessions lead by Kamal, one young man took the question very seriously: he took a long, deep breath and said, “that’s what I can take away from this.”
“Sometimes words can’t explain how you really feel. Sometimes it’s just a breath. It was just a beautiful moment, I’ve never had a kid do that before,” Kamal said.
Many of the youth participating in MBA programs tell us that they struggle with trauma, anger, anxiety, and insomnia. By learning to simply take a deep breath and meditate, they have strategies to cope with these difficult emotions and circumstances.
Some youth don’t have a safe space to be themselves outside of our weekly sessions; by letting these kids be loud or silly or even obnoxious, they’re able to feel accepted and heard. As youth participating in MBA Project programs gain exposure to meditation, there are often noticeable differences in behavioral and emotional regulation during trainings.
“There was one youth in particular who was always the loudest in the group,” said Kamal. After the tenth week Kamal asked what he liked or didn’t like about the group. After a moment of reflection, he responded, “I wouldn’t change anything about the group. I liked it a lot.”
“He really changed my perspective about the youth we work with. This moment could be the most healing moment they’ve ever had,” said Kamal.
Kamal practices his own self-reflection and encourages youth to do the same as they develop their meditation practice. He believes that his personal self-reflection strengthens his work with the youth. Kamal is currently studying for a degree in counseling from Sofia University, and went through personal counseling to better understand himself and his students. “If I don’t feel good about myself, then I can’t help others feel good about themselves,” he explained.
The MBA Project staff is grateful for Kamal’s passion and generosity. He cares deeply about the work and about the young people we serve. “He brings deep love, soulful insight and a hearty laugh to all his programs,” MBA Project Executive Director, Roger Miller, said about Kamal’s work.
Interested in becoming a volunteer instructor and work with amazing youth? Apply here.
Interested in helping Kamal and other MBA Project instructors bring meditation to youth inside juvenile hall? Donate here.
By Christiana Oatman