Heart-Mind 2016 In Profile: Dzung Vo

Dzung X. Vo, MD, is a pediatrician specializing in adolescent medicine at British Columbia Children’s Hospital, and clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Medicine in Vancouver, Canada. He is the author of The Mindful Teen: Powerful Skills to Help You Handle Stress One Moment at a Time, which uses mindfulness-based techniques to help teens (and parents) to deal with stress and life's toughest situations.
At Heart-Mind 2016, Dr. Vo's presentation Breathing and Embracing: What Does Mindfulness Have to do with Resilience? will explore the science and practice of mindfulness based interventions with adolescents, and share practical strategies that parents and youth-serving professionals can use in their work. Below, Dr. Vo discusses his theory of mindfulness and how it can be integral to cultivating resilience in the youth in our lives. 

What is mindfulness?  Is it the same as mediation?

"I’ve borrowed and modified Jon Kabat-Zinn’s famous definition of mindfulness, to the following: Mindfulness means paying attention, in a particular way: On purpose, in the present moment, and with unconditional love.

"Whether you consider mindfulness and meditation to be the same or different, is really a matter of definitions. You might consider mindfulness to be one type of meditation, knowing that there are many other meditation practices (for example, Transcendental Meditation, mantra meditation, or other types of prayer and meditation in many religious traditions). Many informal mindfulness practices could also be called “meditation,” for example, “mindful walking” could also be called “walking meditation.” Ultimately I’m more concerned with the experience of mindfulness than the definition, because I don’t think mindfulness is something that can be precisely defined in language and intellectual understanding alone."

What is the connection between mindfulness and resilience?

"Mindfulness is a powerful practice that helps young people (and adults!) to be resilient in the face of adversity. By learning to stay present with open-heartedness, in any situation, we can thrive even in the face of difficulty, ride the waves of adversity, and tap into the wisdom of our bodies and minds to respond to challenging situations with more wisdom and compassion."

How does Mindfulness help you to be resilient in your own life and work?       

"When I’m having a hard day or something challenging happens to me in work or in my personal life, I try not to “react” right away (unless it is a true emergency, which is rare). Instead, I try to take a few moments to step out of the situation, take some mindful breaths, or go for a mindful walk. By bringing myself “out of my head” and into the present moment, I let go of some of the tension in my mind and body. After a few minutes, I can often see the situation more clearly, and know how to respond in a way that is more effective and compassionate.  I also like to practice regular formal meditation, like sitting still and just enjoying my breathing for a few minutes with my eyes closed. This is a gift to myself for those few minutes when I allow myself to “do nothing” and just simply be. Regular formal meditation also helps me to be more mindful throughout my day."

Join us at Heart-Mind 2016 and experience mindfulness in action. Dr. Vo will be a keynote presenter on Friday, October 21st, and host a Big Conversation/Small Group session on Saturday, October 21st.

Check out the profiles of other Heart-Mind 2016 keynote presenters:

Register for Heart-Mind 2016 now: buy tickets.

by Jordan Lee and David Samis


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