mrs. neal's not-so-conventional MEDITATION [CLASS] for TEENS...

...the book and the recorded meditation


If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music which he hears,
however measured or far away.

– Henry David Thoreau, author


So, we’ve talked about your role models, and about the impact we all have on each other’s lives.

Now let’s talk about personal “choices” — the control we have over which path we choose to take, or not to take.

And, what control we have over which path someone else is choosing to take, or not to take.

— ♦ —

It’s natural to want to point out each other’s flaws — to tell someone else what they should or should not be doing — and it’s hard to resist offering a friend a few suggestions on how to fix their lives. (There’s a nice Biblical reference on this topic in the book of Matthew, chapter seven — look it up.)

If only our friends would listen to us!

When you feel that urge to tell your friend what path they should be choosing, take a step back, and take a breath.

— ♦ —

Remember that whole free will thing I talked about back in chapter one? And, how God may have a plan for us (pre-destination), but we get to choose how we get from where we currently are in our life to where we are going in our life (free will)?

The truth is, we have no control whatsoever over what other people choose to do (or not to do) with their lives — or which path they choose to take (or not take).

We only get to choose our own path. We don’t have any control over anyone else’s. It’s their choice, and theirs alone.

People are going to think whatever they want to think, and they will say whatever they want to say — you have no control over any of that.

All you get to control is how you react or respond to
what is going on around you, and how you allow it to affect you.


As much as I would love to tell my students what they should or should not be doing with their lives — and how they should or should not be doing it — I don’t have that right.

Neither do you.

— ♦ —

A Different Perspective

You know that you would not appreciate it if someone else — even a close friend — tried to tell you what to do with your life.

We all have had different role models, different backgrounds, different environments, different friends, and different influences that have shaped who we are.

We each have walked a different path that has brought us to this particular point in time.

Your life experiences are unique to you — you are the only one who has lived your life.


You should respect the choices your friends make, whether you agree with them or not. It’s their choice, it’s their decision, it’s their path to choose — free will.

Just remember, you can offer them guidance or help, but you can’t make the choice of which path to take for them.

— ♦ —

The Exception...

Pay attention here. There are exceptions to this!

I am not referring to when you see someone making a questionable fashion choice — I am talking about the serious stuff — the life and liberty choices.

I am not suggesting that you should look the other way — or remain silent — if you see a friend making choices that could be harmful to their health, or dangerous, or illegal.

If you care about that person even a little, you should speak up — say something to them, or to someone else.


I tell students all the time, “I respect your rights, but if I see you doing something that will harm you or someone else, I will turn you in — in a heartbeat!”

I absolutely do not subscribe to that concept of “omerta” (look it up) when it comes to the safety of kids.

Neither should you.

— ♦ —

Get A Little Self-Centered

It’s okay to question someone’s motivation when they try to get you to do something that you know is not going to be a good choice for you. Ask yourself, “What’s their motivation for trying to get me to do this with them/for them? And, what’s the possible consequence?”


Here’s the self-centered part: always make your choices for you. Don’t allow someone else to make those choices for you.


Here’s an example of what this means:

Let’s say you are in class and your best friend asks you to join in a school-wide protest he has organized because the school has eliminated peanut butter sandwiches from the lunch menu.

You love peanut butter sandwiches, and you feel a little sad that the school is no longer going to have them on the menu.

The protest that is planned includes everyone getting up and walking out of class at exactly 10:45 a.m., and lying on the lunchroom floor until the last lunch period is over at 1:00 p.m.

You will be in your math class at 10:45 a.m., taking an important test, and you will be presenting your science project with your lab partner at 11:30 a.m.

Your parents already have told you that if your grades don’t come up, you will be grounded for life.

You have plans to go to a surprise birthday party for your girlfriend on Saturday, and if you are grounded for life, you won’t be able to go.

If you walk out of the math class and skip the science class, you will fail both classes and your grades will not go up.

If you do not participate in the protest, your best friend who has planned this protest probably will never speak to you again.

If you get grounded and can’t attend your girlfriend’s surprise part, she probably will never speak to you again.

What do you do?


Tough one, isn’t it?

I can’t answer this one — this is something you will have to figure out.

You have to decide what’s best for you.

Regardless of which decision you make, you have to respect your friends’ decisions, and they have to respect yours.

— ♦ —



How are you reacting or responding to what is going on around you?
How are you allowing it to affect you?




Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices  but honestly and courageously
uses his intelligence.

– Albert Einstein, physicist