A Mindful Head Start

A Mindful Head Start

Lance Mann is one of those few-and-far-between teenagers that actually gives you faith in the next generation. Lance is crazy talented, amazingly humble, soft-spoken, and an all-around nice guy... And definitely not your average 16-year-old.

I had the opportunity to get to know Lance on a recent trip to Poland. Four of us from San Diego attended a Wim Hof Method Retreat along with 22 other athletes, businessmen, and mindfulness practitioners from around the world. The Wim Hof Method is a fitness practice, which is gaining popularity in both Europe and North America. The practice involves various breathing techniques used to target different parts of the nervous system, helping the body rest and digest more efficiently. The cold exposure portion of the practice, which involves shirtless hiking, meditating in snow, jumping in frozen streams, and walking in the snow barefoot, is an intense workout for the circulatory system. These methods can be extremely powerful and also very dangerous and thus should only be done under the direct supervision of a Certified Wim Hof Method Teacher.

At this point you may be asking yourself, why did this 16-year-old kid fly to Poland to hike up mountains in - 20 degree weather and where on Earth are his parents? The simple answer is, right beside him, just as they’ve always been.

Dan, Lance’s father, is a well-respected surfboard shaper who has always challenged Lance to walk his own line, take chances, and see the world. Both father and son look as though they were chiseled from California itself and their humor and rapport quickly became the lifeblood of our group in Poland. When not traveling to the far corners of the globe together, Lance and Dan enjoy surfing and long distance paddle boarding together.

Lance was homeschooled by his mom, Kara, and is now taking college courses and plans to transfer to a local university a year earlier than his peers. He enjoyed school with his mom and doesn’t feel that he missed out on any of the typical teenage experiences of his peers. He told me with complete sincerity, “It brought our family closer together.”  

After just 16 years on the planet, Lance is already confident in his own version of counter-culture. While most boys his age are completely consumed by their image on social media, Lance has moved in an entirely different direction. He loves to listen to podcasts and he cites The Joe Rogan Experience, Russell Brand, and Mixed Mental Arts as three of his favorites. These three podcasts all display an interest in sharing the psyche of individuals at the top of their fields and put a heavy emphasis on mindfulness.

When I asked Lance what his advice would be to others his age, he replied, “Mindfulness is something everyone should explore. Now more than ever, there is an incessant amount of information we are receiving from TV and social media. We all need to stop to take a deep breath, or two, and be still in the hustle and bustle of this crazy, beautiful world.”

Lance is interested in pursuing a degree in Philosophy, Psychology, or Sociology. He explained that he is interested in increasing his problem-solving skills in addition to his knowledge about the world around him. I truly believe highlighting the accomplishments of someone so young is important as the benefits of mindfulness are no longer taboo. The results of these practices are everywhere from the Journal of Western Medicine to the front page of the New York Times. Having a head start into these types of practices can exponentially improve, not only the health of the practitioner, but all of the people around them. If Lance is an example of “kids these days,” then I think it’s safe to say the world is in good hands.