Week 2 Practice Assignment: Hindbrain Breathing

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136 thoughts on “Week 2 Practice Assignment: Hindbrain Breathing”

  1. The hindbrain breathing exercise was very relaxing. I found myself closing my eyes and really getting into it. Not sure how to teach it to students in a school setting but could definitely be shared with someone one to one as a way for them to handle situations.

  2. This was wonderful! I loved the acceptance of eyes open and nonjudgement about where the gaze goes. It was difficult for me, personally, to keep my eyes open but I think it’s good to be challenged in this new way. It gives me more insight into the way the kids feel uncomfortable when doing mindfulness for the first time(s). I can lose sight of what this feels like in my body as I have maintained a regular meditation practice for about 2 years now and I can arrive into myself more quickly than ever before. The group of kids I work with have a difficult time with eyes closed but I have never thought to explicitly accept eyes open in the room. I can see myself using this often in my push-in classroom/group counseling setting and working with students to gradually increase the time of the exercise. Thank you for this tool.

  3. I have tried different types of mindfulness breathing techniques and for me, it works to help me relax sometimes. I have also tried similar breathing techniques with my students, who are typically very uncomfortable at first and usually pretty resistant- they thinks it’s “weird” or they have a hard time taking it seriously. I think it’s very challenging for them just to sit still for a moment and be silent. I have tried this in small groups and they tend to just feed off of each other and they get very silly 🙂 I think like anything else, this takes practice and commitment. I usually use the metaphor that it’s like working out if you want to be a good athlete… practicing mindfulness and techniques like this will help them become emotionally stronger. Its not the easiest thing to introduce to teenagers but I will keep at it!

  4. The hindbrain breathing exercise works great for relaxation.
    I have been using this for years during moments of stress.
    Teaching this technique to teenage boys would not work in the a group setting, I believe it would be easer sharing this within a one on one session, it would allow the boy to not feel silly about what he is doing.
    However any technique that can help a young mans stress level is definitely something worth sharing with the young men I work with.

  5. I liked this exercise, specifically having Sam guide it, and permission not to focus on the mind; rather, this is a somatic experience. I like the impersonal nature of that orientation. It was unpleasant in that I don’t typically inhale so deeply (it would be good for me to do it more!), but also pleasant because I know from experience I will feel more relaxed and calm after a few moments of breathing like this. Again, the mind being given permission to wander, I recalled taking a pranayama class last winter, and how powerful it was; and my attachment to Insight Timer — at night, when going to bed, I will find a guided meditation that focuses on the breath/body, and my appreciation for the gifts of the parasympathetic nervous system increases. There’s a sort of irony that is I believe not lost on the unconscious in reminding it that it is “activating” the soothing aspects of the nervous system, since “activating” is also used to refer to hyper-arousal.
    Yes, I could practice this consistently (I really need to!) and, with a caveat, could teach it to others. The caveat is that I would want to establish a rapport with the person I was teaching beforehand, which could take some time, but I think would be important to build trust and a sense of safety in the person I was teaching.

  6. This exercise was very relaxing and it was overall pleasant. Since I am not accustomed to doing concentrated breathing exercises on a routine basis, I had to focus on my breathing at first and thereafter it felt more natural. I am used to breathing exercises that ask you to close your eyes, and I found that keeping my eyes open was calming as well. I like the idea of orientation – becoming aware and in tune with my surroundings, accepting that I know where I am and that it is what I know and I am safe. I think that really helped me to relax more. I feel calm and focused right now. I think it is easy enough to learn with practice and I would be able to teach it to young people I work with. Like some of the other participants mentioned above, I think introducing in a one on one setting might be better, also after having developed some rapport with the young person so that they feel safe enough to try the exercise.

  7. I enjoyed this mindfulness activity. I have used a similar relaxation technique, that I learned in high school, for many years to relax and help myself fall asleep. As you can imagine this was hard for me to do with my eyes open, but I like that it allows them to keep their eyes open, so that they feel safe. I would love to try this with my students but think that it should be done in small groups instead of large groups because I don’t think my teenage boys will find this relaxing, but instead would be a chance to be goofballs.

  8. Deep breathing exercise is always relaxing, only that I do it with my eyes closed. Hindbrain breathing exercise is done with open eyes. At first I thought that I would be distracted by things that I see but rather it brought a sense of calm to a place of control of self and surroundings. This is one that I could put more practice into, to master it. Surely, it is an adaptable exercise which clients can benefit from; small groups or more individuals.

  9. I found that I started to focus on one object and soon my eyes were unfocused and I was paying attention to my breathing. We do mindfulness with our students. It’s has worked for some kids and not for others. Now when we tell them to just take a minute to breath, they can do this. for some it has helped really calm them down.

  10. This is a welcome shift from most mindfulness meditations that ask you to drop inward. Scanning the room and being present in your environment while tuned into your breath really provides that seat of safety and grounding that in turn creates relaxation in the body (the nervous system softening).

  11. The hindbrain breathing technique was a pleasant exercise, especially after having a long day at work. I was able to fully immerse myself into the meditation and focus on my deep breathing as I allowed my eyes to wonder around the room. I originally thought that having my eyes opened would prevent me from focusing; however, it allowed me to concentrate better. I was very relaxed, and was able to sustain a clear mind thereafter. It is a very calming technique that I will be able to adapt and use with the clients who struggle with self-regulation. I do agree that this will be beneficial in smaller groups and one-on-one settings rather than in large groups, as some of the youth may become disruptive or feel uncomfortable with others around.

  12. Thank you for teaching the technique with eyes open – that could help some I work with who have PTSD – the majority. I found it calming, and good to think about the physiology of the exercise, and not worry too much about the mind. The mind comes in line with the body it seems!

  13. I enjoyed the exercise and practice similar ones often. It truly is amazing how quickly I can relax and release anxiety when focusing on my breath. It was difficult for me to keep my eyes open. As soon as I heard the bell and took my first deep breath they closed.

  14. I truly enjoyed this exercise, I found it quite refreshing to do this exercise while learning. I feel relax and actually refreshed.

  15. I currently have a consistent meditation practice and always welcome the opportunity to sit and breath. I found this practice relaxing and noticed that today my mind was more active and wanted to engage in my thoughts. Your guidance was helpful in bringing my attention back to the breath and noticing the in and out sensations of breathing.

  16. Carmen Siegfried

    This hindbrain exercise was relaxing and a good reminder of the power of breathing and mindfulness. I think this would be challenging to use in a group setting but can see how it would be beneficial in a one on one session. I really like how quickly, when a person is open to it, that this can relax and bring a sense of calm.

  17. I enjoyed the exercise. I am sure I will need more practice before I can introduce it to my clients. This is very different than the mindfulness relaxation techniques I have been utilizing with clients. This allows the client to feel relaxed yet aware of their surroundings and learn to focus while still being very aware of where they are, how they feel etc. Thank you for teaching us Sam.

  18. BobbieSue Lopez

    I loved this relaxation technique. I’m always looking for different ways to just relax at different times during the day to take a break from everything and re focus my mind and this worked great. I’ve tried different types of relaxation techniques and this was great. I definitely think I could take this to my co-workers as well. I think they would really find it useful as well. Thank you!

  19. I felt more embodied and relaxed. After a few breaths I stated to feel tired. After a few more breaths I found it difficult to keep my eyes open. It was pleasant but since I was at work I did have to shift and wake my self up so I could go on with my day.

  20. I found this to be extremely relaxing. I am looking forward to introducing this to the youth I work with.

  21. The HindBrain breathing took a few minutes for me to get comfortable with. I use Trauma Informed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy with clients and part of the therapy process is to teach deep breathing. The HindBrain breathing encourages the eyes to be open, which took the most getting used to for me. Once I felt comfortable keeping my eyes open, I was able to focus better on relaxing. Another difference that I really enjoyed was adding the hearing aspect to the exercise. It was neat to add that element. After the exercise, I felt relaxed.
    I believe that HindBrain breathing would be a great tool to use with youth. I have found that many youth do not like breathing exercises in general, and especially do not like to close their eyes. This exercise would allow them to have the benefits of a breathing exercise without having to feel uncomfortable about closing their eyes. I am looking forward to using this with adolescent clients.

  22. I really liked the not having to close my eyes and the permission to allow my gaze to wander naturally where it would normally rather than feel that I had to be focused. I found the breathing really made me feel very grounded and regulated as usually I tend to breathe quite shallowly and was much more aware of my body than I usually am on a working day basis. I found I had a tendency when I got to sensations I would immediately try and get back to my thinking brain where I feel more comfortable and start thinking analytically or started running through something I had to do rather than stay with the sensation.

  23. The HindBrain breathing technique was relaxing and simple. It took me some time to get used to doing. I think it will be helpful for me and eventually my students. I like that you are able to keep your eyes open while doing this. I enjoyed being able to sit still and not focus on anything in particular besides my breathing. I felt relaxed after this exercise.

  24. i liked how simple this exercise was. i think it would feel safe to kids that don’t want to shut their eyes and feel vulnerable or silly. With the eyes open it still lets you get very relaxed, but it kept me in a small sense in control. That feeling can leave when your eyes are closed. I also like the instructions throughout. Letting a child know you will be talking to them throughout also would relieve the sense of performance anxiety i think. it felt nice.

  25. I use mindfulness mediation every day and often with my clients but I always have my eyes closed. However, with one of my clients who has suffered a traumatic event he can’t close his eyes because he is hyper-vigilant therefore the opening of the eyes and softening allows him to feel safe. Today however, I have a cold so it makes it very difficult to do as I am sneezing and coughing when I breathe deeply.

  26. The most beneficial thing any therapist ever taught my son was to breathe..personally I rarely stop thinking and ‘doing’ (ADD) and find it hard to take a moment for myself, so being given ‘permission’ to do so and just to breathe seems like a real treat in some ways. It also made me yawn. I bet some youth never feel safe enough to just take a moment to breathe and this could feel very difficult for them to do the first time. Keeping their eyes open would make them feel safer I think. However for those with ADD, looking around my room (my office) made me think about all I still have to do, so closing my eyes would actually help me relax more.

  27. It’s a great simple technique. I love the option of eyes open and can totally understand how that would be so much more accepted by those with trauma due to hyper vigilance — scanning the environment, too. I use this technique while at work for myself such as during stressful meetings. 😀

  28. I enjoyed doing that exercise, thank you. I needed some calming space this evening. We practice mindfulness at Omaha Outward Bound School with our students, so it’s always nice to be learning techniques we can use to help with teaching for ourselves and for the youth we try to share practices with. It was interesting to see how it feels to meditate with eyes open, scanning, my eyes getting hazy or relaxed with time and breath.

  29. xThis exercise was relaxing and I liked the idea of scanning your environment/surroundings and getting grounded. I utilize meditation as a relaxing/grounding exercise at work, home, or while sitting at a red light just to get me to focus and stay in the moment. Good tool to use for 5 seconds or 10 minutes or longer. I have used meditation in a juvenile hall setting and the adolescents come out feeling relaxing but also vulnerable because some of the teens have gone deep which brought up sensitive feelings, thoughts and reminders. thanks for sharing this exercise, Sam.

  30. I appreciated being reminded of the orienting response and allowing my eyes to settle on a spot rather than me choosing the spot. I am working more and more on listening to my body – where my eyes want to settle, the breath breathing itself, my CNS settling. Thank you.

  31. Deirdre Murphy

    Loved it. I think the connection between mindful breathing and scan with engaging the parasympathetic nervous system will be really helpful. Some youth may be sick of adults telling them to just breathe, so this explanation is more intentional and explains its purpose.

  32. I’m a big supporter of self-care, but as of lately i haven’t had me time. The HindBrain breathing technique is different than what I’m used to, but it brought my awareness to how I need to get back to meditating. I found my body very tight and in need of relaxation.

  33. The hindbrain breathing exercise was a great mid day break for me. I teach belly breathing with younger children that I work with, but this would be a great tool for adolescents and young adults. I appreciated being able to keep my eyes open during the exercise. I’ve noticed that teens and adults I work with get a little squeamish being asked to close their eyes, so the allowance to leave eyes open might really help people feel more comfortable. The activity was so relaxing – I was reminded how easy it would be to just close my door for a few minutes a day and meditate! This is a technique I would use with any age – easy to teach and process after the intervention. Thanks for the new tool!

  34. I always enjoy this technique and others like it very much. One key part of my everyday practice with a majority of my client’s is relaxation techniques that include breathing, among others. I find them to be very pleasant and soothing for my own use as well. I do already practice very consistently and teach to almost all of my clients.

  35. The exercise was very peaceful. To just sit back and relax did wonders for my stress after a busy day.
    The best part of this is that we are engaging in a new program at work where we are doing YOGA and enhanced breathing to help regulate our students.

  36. I’ve practiced similar exercises when I’m feeling stressed or anxious and find it so helpful to returning to a relaxed state.

  37. I have never done a mindfulness type activity with my eyes open, it was very distracting for me personally, however I see the benefit to supporting others who may feel uncomfortable or unsafe closing their eye, and how it would feel more controlled with ones eyes open. I do a lot of deep breathing throughout my day, and instantly notice the changes I feel in my body. I also teach kids how to deep breath at the school along with other mindfulness tools such as telling me 3 things they can see, hear and feel, then we practice our breathing.

  38. Meditation is an integral part of my daily routine. I meditate at least three times daily and also practice meditation with my (ED- I dislike this educational dx) daughter who has anxiety and PTSD. Breathing has an immediate and noticeable affect one the base of my neck and upper shoulders.
    I never, or rarely, have a feeling of safety in my work environment and find that breathing really works to help me get through my day. While I understand the focus of this course is on supporting youth, this role takes a huge toll on me personally and I often feel significant burn out and have myself been dx with C-PTSD.
    I would love ideas on implementing this practice with inner city youth who shows very strong resistance.

    Scanning the room causes tension for me, and my eyes usually settle on the door- checking for safety. I prefer to scan for safety, and then close my eyes.

  39. I found it relaxing though I had a hard time staying focused. It would serve me well to practice this daily. I’m not sure if I could implement this in my class of 35 teenagers though I know many teachers do practice mindfulness with their students. I should start with myself I think.

  40. I enjoyed this practice and especially the beginning with keeping eyes open. Mindfulness has been a struggle for our students when eyes are closed and we have been developing new strategies that do not include closing the eyes. Open to suggestions!

  41. I enjoyed this practice activity! In the beginning I found keeping my eyes open to be extremely distracting, however, by the end I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I think this activity could be useful however, may be difficult to implement successfully in a big group / class of teenagers.

  42. Curtis Schacherer

    It was a relaxing style of meditation, although I found that the most relaxing place for my eyes to go was into the darkness behind closed lids. Afterwards I felt like doing some stretching. I will certainly continue to do 10 minutes of meditation each evening with bonus sessions thrown in when I can, like during morning stretches, and after working out, when my body is pumping endorphins and meditation takes me out of this world. I will teach this style to people I work with when I can. The only reason I can’t at times is because I often (I’m a substitute still) am entering an already established group who tell me that they aren’t having none of this meditation stuff,lol. Most of the groups I’ve worked with though seem to enjoy a few minutes or less of breath work.

  43. Brittni Packard

    I enjoyed the eyes open piece of this meditation. I recently went through hypnobabies and this included eyes closed and open meditation so this piece wasn’t as hard or uncomfortable for me as I thought it would be initially hearing “keep your eyes open.” Nice way to calm down and recenter today.

  44. I enjoyed this exercise a great deal. It was very relaxing and I can definitely see where this technique could be beneficial to those in stressful situations or environments.

  45. I’ve taken a class in mindfulness and this seems very much like it. I practice almost daily now as it helps me to remain in the present and helps me strengthen my focus not only while doing mindfulness but also in everyday activities. It keeps me calm and centered and helps me not to react impulsively. I have reached an hour doing it. The process has been difficult and I believed it to be difficult to teach clients who are often quite hyper. In this exercise of keeping the eyes open, I think by doing this it can help to make it easier for clients as when the eyes are closed it’s probably easier to fall asleep or to run away with thoughts and forget breathing which is key to help maintain a calm state and to help the client remain in the present.

  46. I enjoyed the exercise and found myself wanting to shift to a similar exercise that involves breathing in for 10, holding for 10, breathing out for 10 – probably because I’m more familiar with it. Outside the window i have a beautiful chinese maple tree and that is where my eyes landed. I realized I hadn’t turned off the public radio station playing in the house until my attention turned to my ears. Nice.

  47. I’ve been trying to increase mindfulness practices with my students (and coworkers, from time to time). This one was different in the use of the eyes to scan the room and to assess the surroundings with calmness. Most of my routines have been with eyes closed and a focus on internal workings- how the body feels, what emotions are in play, etc. I never thought about it before, but it makes sense that some students simply don’t feel safe with their eyes closed, even when in a safe space and with a trusted adult. I liked this version.

    Like I’m sure others will mention, the kids’ reactions range from “that’s weird” to discomfort with a new practice to “sure, whatever.” I forget that the first time can be uncomfortable. The kids are so used to moving, to reacting, to rushing. Most of my kids are rarely by themselves in the sense that they’re always attached to others via their phones, devices, and social media platforms. Many of them literally fear being by themselves. They don’t know how to listen to their minds and bodies, much less understand some of the messages being sent. I’d love to continue to increase the use of these practices on school campuses, both as preventative practices and as de-escalation and coping strategies, especially as alternatives to the good-ole suspensions from school.

  48. I really like this mindfulness exercise as an introduction to mindfulness for adolescents. It is a great exercise to familiarize them with what it means to recognize their breathing and feeling safe at the same time; and to ease them into more mindfulness techniques and interventions.

  49. I had a really difficult time resisting the urge to close my eyes! I loved the idea of being able to constantly scan your environment while continuing to breathe deeply however. I could see giving permission to scan very helpful for tramatized youth. I have found myself reassuring youth that they are safe in a therapy room, but allowing them to scan and experience that sense of safety visably would be much more meaningful!

  50. I have done this kind of breathing exercise before with students who have triggered and are melting down. I know that it works from my own experience, but did not really know what I was accomplishing other than being able to get a student to breathe and communicate so that I could understand what the problem is. I’m clearer now that the point is the breathing, not the afterward problem solving.

  51. I love this! I did the Hindbrain breathing exercise with my daughter who is 11 right before bed. It was so relaxing and I could see myself using this with clients. I love the keeping the eyes open and idea and no judgement on thoughts.

  52. I use very similar mindful breathing techniques with clients after we’ve talked about what’s happening in their brain and body in response to stress/memories. We also talk about what changes physiologically and neurologically this kind of breathing brings about. This information alone can be quite empowering. I find it useful when we’re doing this in the therapy room to participate with them – it helps reduce any self-consciousness and helps keep me centred and in ‘thinking brain’!

  53. I have a tendency, whenever I’m overwhelmed by the busyness of my day or a bit frustrated; I would take long and deep breath to just try and give myself a sense of calmness. But this exercise really sends it home in relation of naturally becoming calm and being able to relax. I see myself making this apart of my regular routine and something to definitely used with my clients, especially the ones who appear to be a little uncomfortable in there surroundings. It allow you to not strain the Forebrain in having to process or make any urgent or rush decisions.

  54. I enjoyed the hindbrain breathing, however I am easily distracted, maintaining focus can be difficult for me. I would love t practice it daily to calm my mind and maintain a healthy outlook on life, etc. As my practice continues, I would like to share this with students.

  55. I’m a big fan of mindfulness and meditation. Use it daily with self and clients. Thanks for the invitation for a mindfulness break!

  56. Thanks Sam for guiding us through this wonderful relaxation technique. It’s amazing how simple breathing can help the body relax by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
    This technique can definitely be incorporated into group settings focusing on self awareness.

    My personal experience was so soothing. I needed this, especially at the end of my busy day- today. Placing my palm directly on my chest during the exercise helped me connect to my center. Your voice as a guide also drew my attention directly to my body’s physical response. It seems as though that no matter where in the environment I am, there is always something there that is pleasant to me, and that is where beauty permeates; transpiring reciprocally via trees, rocks, sunshine, butterflies, or flowers for instance.

    Afterwards, I felt more at ease. Here’s to smiling from the inside out.

    Best, G

  57. This will be a helpful tool leading both yoga class and teaching mindfulness to kiddos. My biggest take away is the scanning the environment piece. I have always given students a choice to close their eyes or gaze at a point, but this language is even more helpful. I enjoyed the breathing exercise, but found it difficult for me to keep my eyes open as it is habit to close them while I practice my breathing. Thank you, Sam!
    Kim

  58. I really enjoyed this practice activity as I tried it out in different settings to see if it could be done in any setting. I like the fact that this breathing activity requires that the eyes remain open as it kept me in touch with whats was happening around me which made me comfortable. I believe this technique will work well with clients who have trust issues and may find it difficult to close their eyes to complete an activity such as this one. During the exercise I found that as I focused on controlling by breathing by taking slow deep breaths and exhaling slowly, my entire senses seems to slow down, my heart almost seemed to beat to my deep breathing.

    The Hindbrain breathing activity helps to heighten self-awareness, and could help clients gain self control and composure in a hyper-arousal state.

  59. I find that mindful breathing exercises work really well for me in relaxing the areas of my body that I hold stress. We have been trying to work with the children in doing breathing exercises, and I definitely agree with one of the comments above me that this works better one on one than in large groups 🙂

  60. I always struggle with mindful breathing exercises because I find its difficult for me to actually ‘shut’ my brain off. I liked how we were able to keep our eyes open at the beginning because it lessons feelings of vulnerability.

  61. Having my eyes open was an interesting difference. For me, I think my mind wandered less because visually I was focused in on something. I have done that before with a candle flame and that works really well for me. I can see how, for someone that is in a heightened state, keeping your eyes open would feel way more comfortable and safe.

  62. I thoroughly enjoyed the breathing exercise, but I struggled with the open-eye component. I use guided visualizations and mindful breathing frequently with clients, but have never attempted the technique with open eyes; it fully makes sense that an individual experiencing hypervigilence would be more comfortable with their eyes open than closed. While I have not utilized this exercise with a group, I can definitely see myself using it with adolescents… however, I feel it would be more conducive to success if they sat in a circle facing outward to limit distractions. I’m definitely going to give it a try!

    Lori

  63. Ive been doing this for years, and have used this kind of mindful breathing with my daughter and women who Ive coached through labor and delivery. I struggled to get beyond chest breathing initially because the last two units had me thinking of own trauma. I appreciate that you allowed for chest breathing – took the pressure off. I felt best with my eyes closed because my messy house was too distracting!

  64. I loved that it was simple and relaxing. I think for adolescents it is beneficial to teach mindfulness and students may be more willing to participate if they do not have to close their eyes. I have used a bell to have students listen while they are breathing and I have found that to be a fun activity for students of all ages.

  65. Interesting – this was definitely relaxing, but at the same time my mind was awake and wandering. It is a neat twist to keep the eyes open and orienting during meditation. I have never tried that before and am curious about exploring that more. This will take me some more practice before I can teach it to others.

  66. Wow. When I first began meditating I found it difficult to close my eyes. Now, I struggled to keep my eyes open. I still felt a sense of calm though. My mind wondered a bit but with the reminders that it was okay I was easily redirected to my breath and scanning.

  67. I have used mindful breathing exercises for years now and it really helps with my anxiety. I have used this technique with my son, my friends and my clients. Especially when my teen clients are experiencing flashbacks and other triggering experiences.

    I found leaving my eyes open initially had raised my anxiety a bit but then I was able to allow myself to concentrate more on my breathing.
    I would like to try this with some of my youth clients who have issues trusting with their eyes closed as this would allow them to focus on their surroundings and ensure their safety

  68. I thought this was interesting. I’ve done mindfulness breathing with some of my classes, but I always ask them to close their eyes. I thought this was an interesting twist and I can see how some students might have not participated because they didn’t feel comfortable closing their eyes in a room full of people.

  69. A good reminder to strengthen my meditation practice in order to have the courage to share it with young people. Thanks!

  70. I found this technique very relaxing. Breathing exercises are one of my favorite ways to release stress. I also find them very helpful for winding my mind down to go to sleep.

    I’ve also has good success with clients if I can get them focused enough to do the breathing. I usually have the most success with them if I start out in my normal speaking voice, maybe even a little bit of a forceful voice, depending on the situation. I get them to focus on me, and then very gradually shift in into that slow soothing voice that you used for the exercise. It’s worked wonderfully for a lot of my clients.

  71. This was actually the first time I heard of hindbrain breathing. I was excited to try it and am happy to say that it really is a very relaxing exercise. I particularly liked that the exercise only took about seven minutes which meant that I could get back to my very busy schedule! This experience was one that was very pleasant and calming. I will try my best to do it more often and eventually introduce it to my teenage clients

  72. Enjoyed this exercise. I typically meditate with my eyes closed, and this exercise felt very different for me. I can see how being able to keep the eyes open and scan the environment would be soothing to someone who has experienced trauma and may have a heightened sense of alertness/awareness.

  73. Like many of the other participants, I also am use to closing my eyes during my mindfulness practice,. During this exercise, I found myself starting with my eyes scanning and then naturally dropped into closing them. I have taught mindfulness to high school students with the eyes closed or looking downward. The students have responded well to this. I think that having them scan the room would be difficult because they would start making eye contact and it would be distracting. But maybe in a group of just a few kids. I

  74. I did this exercise in my car. It was refreshing. I was pleased that I didn’t need to close my eyes. This is definitely something I can use with the youths I work with. They don’t really like closing their eyes.

  75. I loved having permission to keep my eyes open and to allow your mind wonder. I feel like this makes the exercise more “tolerable” especially with youth or clients who are nervous about closing their eyes in a place less familiar or in a setting they are unsure of.

  76. Breathing excercises and meditation are not things that I practice commonly, therefore they are out of my comfort zone. For this excercise I allowed myself to be open to the experience and actually found it calming and relaxing. This is something that I would use again for myself and would be interested in showing to my students.

  77. Initially I wanted to close my eyes because that’s what I do during meditation. So I made an effort to keep them open. After orientating by looking around I was able to relax my eyes. I noticed the sensations of the air going in and out of my nose, and simultaneously my chest and belly rising and lowering. Then my eyes settled on an object – a lamp. After noticing the lamp my attention shifted to what it feels like to breathe. I think this exercise can be a beneficial practice to incorporate throughout the day to ground.

  78. Initially I wanted to close my eyes because that’s what I do during meditation. So I made an effort to keep them open. After orientating by looking around I was able to relax my eyes. I noticed the sensations of the air going in and out of my nose, and simultaneously my chest and belly rising and lowering. Then my eyes settled on an object – a lamp. After noticing the lamp my attention shifted to what it feels like to breathe. I think this exercise can be a beneficial practice to incorporate throughout the day.

  79. I am usually not one for meditation or yoga type of exercises for relaxation but I am always willing to try next techniques and exercises. I enjoyed this one. the ringing of the high pitched bell hit a nerve or some sensation in my mind that got my attention and focus from the get go. I could see using this type of exercise with some of our students for alot of them are open to different alternative types of learning and expressing themselves.

  80. Patricia Giamoni

    This exercise was quite challenging for me. I have taken online courses for Mindfulness and have found them just as challenging. The timing of this exercise was not the best for me. I should have tried it after work or before my day began. When I started, I wanted to close my eyes and felt like I was falling in to a trance, but then kept coming back to hearing everything I needed to get done today. It could be very beneficial for our faculty to practice this, but like I previously mentioned, timing is essential.

  81. I enjoyed this practice. It is hard for me to sit still and slow my brain down but it is definitely effective in relaxing and just slowing down. I can see myself using this practice on a daily basis and I look forward to teaching it to my students.

  82. It was a little difficult for me to do this breathing exercise, since when trying to do it I was taking a break from a bunch of different work-related tasks I was doing. I have tried these in the past, many times in fact (I have an ap on my phone that has guided meditations that I use to fall asleep at night sometimes), and if I am not already somewhat relaxed, it is very difficult for me to “turn off”. At night, right before sleep, it is possible for me to practice mindfullness in my meditations, but aside from those times it is very difficult.

    I believe that if I make a commitment to practice this during various times of the day, that I can improve (just like anything else, I feel that this is a skill of sorts). If I was consistently practicing this type of meditation, and was able to practice it in the midst of a chaotic day, I would feel comfortable teaching someone to do this. I believe that people with trauma, and anxiety related to that trauma, could really benefit from this. This is a great tool (and it’s free!), and once it is learned, it can be used on a regular basis.

  83. I practice meditation and mindfulness regularly so this type of practice was familiar and comfortable. I appreciated the instruction at the beginning to scan the environment for assurance of safety. I hadn’t thought of incorporating that detail before; after the practice, I thought about the different areas (geographically) that I practice and where I feel the most comfortable and where I don’t. It gave me a different perspective! 🙂

  84. Michelle Pasztor

    As soon as I saw this exercise I immediately thought, “oh no, I am awful at meditation.” But I was relieved that you said about half way through that this is not about your mind, and you can let your mind wander to whatever — this is about the parasympathetic nervous system and focus on breathing. I like that it is vastly different from mindfulness in that way, because for people like me, meditation and yoga can be very difficult as my mind is always running a mile per minute and I can never sit still. This would be interesting to try for youth with ADD/ADHD because it alleviates the pressure on them. What I mean by pressure is that often when I am asked to do breathing exercises, I often actually get stressed because I know how much my mind cannot be blank and I feel like I am doing it horribly. This made me connected to my body/stomach/chest/breathing that I ended up clearing my mind in the process.

  85. I like the use of the bell with the deep breathing. I can see how this exercise can be beneficial for clients, especially allowing them to keep their eyes open.

  86. it was my first time trying this exercise..it was very relaxing…….it was sort of a challenge for me at first since my mind it never at ease…but after a couple minutes in I was able to relax and calm my mind…..i infact did it twice to get in my entire six minutes since i was uncomfortable at first….

  87. It was very pleasant. Even though I was relaxed, I felt alert because my eyes were open. I could see myself practicing this regularly. I could see how someone who has been traumatized might prefer having their eyes open when doing a relaxation practice such as this (due to feeling unsafe).
    Breath work can be transformative!

  88. I really loved and enjoyed doing this exercise. I found it to be very relaxing both physically and mentally for me. The previous presentation on The Brain and Trauma sent some triggers to me personally and as a result I was able to put some of the fears and anxiety feelings into perspective with reasoning. The Hind-brain Breathing Exercise is an activity I will definitely continue to use as well as at some point I will be able to teach those I work with this technique. After a couple minutes I became so relax that i was able to close my eyes and tune out my surroundings for a bit which I thought was very interesting. I did do the exercise in an enclose place, but I do plan on trying it in a more open space to see if my reaction would be the same.

  89. I enjoyed the exercise and found it calming. At the end I wanted to continue. I teach very similar mindfulness exercises to youth and practice a lot myself. I appreciated the instructions at the start about looking around the room for threats, normalizing and bringing awareness to what is very likely already happening or resourcing and supporting that defensive action if it isn’t being used. Good stuff.

  90. The hindbrain exercise was very relaxing. I felt a calming sensation come over my mind and body. When my mind wandered I was able to bring it back and focus on my breathing. I can see myself using this exercise on a regular basis in my life and trying to implement it with my students as well.

  91. I enjoyed this exercise very much. I felt relaxed both mentally and physically afterwords. I think that this is something I could practice more and at one point help teach others about this exercise.

  92. I really enjoyed this breathing exercise. I have multiple other exercises that I use with the kids I work with as well as with the adults. I find breathing exercises are really efficient as regaining a sense of control over one’s body. They are also easy to teach for individuals who might be disconnected from their bodies. I found having my eyes open a bit challenging but enjoyed this variation and as mentioned in many posts, definitely an interesting option for individuals who have experience different kinds of trauma.

  93. I really like this breathing exercise. I especially appreciated the ability to choose eyes open or eyes closed. I struggle to allow myself to take time and focus mentally and physically and thus these exercises are usually very difficult for me to relax and center myself. This exercise was different though and afterwards I felt relaxed. I think it is because there was room and acceptance for wandering.

  94. Patrice Berlinsky

    This was a very relaxing guided meditation. I enjoy the difference between your guiding voice Sam, and your teaching voice which is much more intense and fast paced. You use your voice well for the desired effect.

    I found it hard to keep my eyes open during this practice since I normally close them. At one point I just let them close, just like in yoga – listening to my own body.

  95. This was a very helpful exercise. I have never tried a meditation or mindfulness practice with my eyes open. I found I had to work hard to focus. But it was effective. I will definitely use it again for myself and I will share it with others.

  96. I believe the Hindbrain breathing exercise worked well for me, i was well relaxed while still keeping abreast of my surrounding. I believe for me it would be easier one on one just for me to get more connected with my clients as i would prefer to do it at the same time with them which i would hope will make them feel more comfortable. It will also allow them to be in tune with their breathing at a relaxed stage and hopefully know the difference in breathing when being hyper, angered or afraid.

  97. I’m liking the integration of Somatic Experiencing and mindfulness practices. Nice to have the eyes open. When I do something like this I like to say, “Let the eyes go where they want to go,” because for me a directive to scan the room seems connected to a higher state of arousal. I think it’s important that we’re just letting the eyes take in what they want to, rather than consciously directing them to look at something particular. We notice what the eyes are drawn to, knowing that if there is some novel stimulus in the environment, they’ll be drawn there. You haven’t talked about this yet, but this connects us to our neuroception- the moment-to-moment assessment of safety or threat- something that Stephen Porges talks about alot in reference to the Polyvagal Theory.

  98. Keeping my eyes open was new for me; I found that it created a sense of safety and security. Breathing exercises like this one help me feel calm and centered. I heard the birds chirping in a more pronounced way. Thank you!

  99. although there were distractions around I found myself able to stay connection with this experiment and it provided relaxation and was very soothing. We practice this with some of our students, it really helps them reconnect.

  100. I enjoy meditation activities, as a chance to slow my brain down and find peace (I have ADHD and what is closest to the concepts of complex PTSD/ developmental trauma).

    However, I have never found traditional deep breathing to be helpful for myself. The only breathing exercise that seems to be helpful for me is one that a previous counselor of mine introduced to me as “fire breathing”. It is a very fast deep inhale through the mouth, with a pause, followed by a very slow exhale through the nose. For me it releases all of my tension and stress/anxiety. I have coordinated arm movements to go with it, for when my thoughts are extremely stubborn and I need to focus more on my body.

    I did like the ability to keep my eyes open, and recognize how this may be integral for folks with hypervigilance. I’ve certainly worked with many adults who would not close their eyes, especially in a group setting.

    This IS similar to what I do when I sit out in nature, letting my eyes wander as they will, tuning in to my senses, and just “being”. Which is extremely rejuvenating for me.

    We are all different, just as all of our clients are. Having multiple tools in the toolbox can be important, and trialing the same activity in multiple environments can also help. Perhaps not just tuning into the senses, but having certain sensory experiences TO tune in to, would be a helpful starting place for some of the kids, and eventually moving to being able to do it anywhere.

  101. I tried this exercise a couple times deep breathing and examining my environment. I felt alert as I looked around and then a sense of release in my shoulders. I closed my eyes to focus in on the inhaling and exhaling until I remembered I was to keep my eyes open and scan my surroundings, My mind then started to wander. I plan to try this exercise a couple more times in different setting to see the difference in its impact. Deep breathing exercise are usually helpful in calming people who are agitated if you can get them to sit down or slow down long enough to listen.

  102. The hind brain breathing exercise was very effective for me. I teach clients several breathing techniques, mostly with their eyes closed. This will be very useful for those who are uncomfortable closing their eyes. The review of trauma physiology and vocabulary made the exercise even more meaningful for me.

  103. I did open-eye meditation in a workshop with the Brahma Kumaris and it was really confronting, as all other meditation had been eyes closed. They get you to focus on a dot on a painting or poster – I much prefer this ‘scan the room’ technique and can see how open-eyed meditation is less threatening to people with a history of trauma – and young people in general, as closing your eyes does make one vulnerable. Makes me remember the primary school game ‘heads down, thumbs up’ – always hated it because it involved closing your eyes while someone else was allowed to wonder around the room.

  104. I enjoyed this exercise and can see how it can be beneficial to the youth I work with. I have found breathing exercises to be beneficial when they are continuously brought into therapy sessions. Specifically, beginning each individual or group session not only helps the adolescents to begin the appointment more mindfully, but it also allows them to use this technique in a consistent style with the hopes of having them utilize it on their own. I have found that apps such as Calm or Breath have also been helpful when youth are transitioning back to the community from our residential setting so that they are able to maintain what they have learned.n

  105. I felt very relaxed while practicing the hindbrain breathing. I especially liked the scanning the room for danger. I teach mindfulness and when giving instructions, I typically give room for the participants to either leave their eyes open or closed. Working with young ladies in a youth detention center, I really like the instruction that allows them to scan their environment as a way to increase feelings of safety. When practicing, I love to close my eyes, so I found myself closing them during the breathing exercise. I immediately noticed the tension in my shoulders and this encouraged me to relax my shoulders. I find mindfulness meditation very useful and I gently encourage others, e.g., family, friends, students, school staff, etc. to incorporate it into their daily lives.

  106. HI, I liked the strategy. This is one that I have been using with youth, when they permit me to. When youth are able to get into it I find that it works very well as a grounding exercise before working on something or after a heavy topic to come back to their bodies. I find that initially youth are not very interested and are not interested in spending more than one minute on the floor. This takes time to build up the ability to sit with themselves in a non-judgemental space. Good technique for sure.

  107. Frankie Guzman

    I very much enjoyed the experience. I have felt pretty tense today and this exercise was very helpful. Being able to look around in my distracted mind-state, while focusing on breathing (as opposed to feeling compelled to clear my mind) was fun and helped me relax. The first minute, I was overcome by a tingling sensation in my head and shoulders, as if from my bran downward. During the last minute or two, I experienced a euphoric calm, as if coming from within, radiating outward. Pleasantly surprised. Thanks.

    I typically work with youth and young adults in California’s maximum security state prisons. My colleagues and I once had several hundred men in prison participate in a meditation exercise. We worked hard to make all feel safe. It was pretty fascinating to see. I know many appreciate learning ways to create peace and calm in those environments. I hope to share this exercise with many of them.

  108. This exercise is one of the techniques that practice for my own relaxation. I would normally do this with my eyes close, therefore I found myself have to focus much more so as not to be distracted. However as soon as my mind and body became relax. I found that I was still able to relax my body.

  109. I have never continued to scan the environment as i focused on slow deep breathing before. I am sitting outside in the sun, and it was incredible relaxing to let my attention drift about the landscape as I kept my breathing slow.

    When I teach mindfulness, I suggest students close the eyes or lower the gaze to avoid distraction, but always tell them eyes open is an option if that’s not comfortable. I wonder what happens in a room full of students with eyes open. I wonder if it may be hard to feel safe knowing they may be looking around too. I like the idea of beginning with an orientation.

  110. Today was my first day back after vacation. After teaching six mindfulness classes today it was wonderful to have someone guide me. Most of my personal practice is with eyes closed. After stepping in from vacation mode, leaving my eyes open provided a small burst of energy. I may have wanted a nap if I closed my eyes!!

  111. Usually I do mindfulness techniques with eyes closed–I can easily see how beneficial this would be with many clients who feel unsafe to close their eyes because of their traumatic experiences in the past. Made me very relaxed and my breathing calmed down and overall felt relaxed after!

  112. This seems like it would be a good practice for “triggers” to ground them and focus on their surroundings.

  113. I found it very relaxing. A little bit of an altered state. I found it challenging to keep my eyes open. The sense of sleepiness was almost overwhelming. I teach a yoga class to junior high students with behavior disorders. While they do very well with the final relaxation pose, they struggle with any of the organized breathing techniques. I think this may be something they can master and get good results from.

  114. Chelsea Lucero

    This exercise in regards to breathing is always difficult for me personally as my mind tend to race. I do, however, tend t feel more clam and collected following it as it does help bring oxygen to my brain and helped me think clearer. We practice this in group setting and in individual therapy sessions and we call it the 5-5-5, five times. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for five, and then release for five seconds and do that five times. The boys I work with like it.

  115. Fiorella Gonzales

    This exercise was easy but I can see how it could be difficult if you can’t have a space to relax with little outside stimuli. It made me feel more in control of my body. I do see myself attempting this exercise in the future.

  116. I have participated in an activity like this before I find it very calming and relaxing. It is something I should put into practice a few times a day. I think this is something I could definitely use with students I work with who are stressed and struggling to use their words, do journaling and other activities that are supposed to help ease the mind. This makes the most sense because it does not require any thing that is associated higher order thinking. I will continue to practice.

  117. I found this breathing technique grounding and calming. I had not considered before the power of keeping eyes open – particularly for people who have experienced severe interpersonal trauma, and for whom having eyes closed in the presence of others may feel incredibly unsafe. Thank you for drawing my attention to this. I think tuning into what eyes can see and ears can hear – whilst calling up calm breathing, so helpful. Thank you

  118. I truly enjoyed this exercise. Easy to do wherever you are, whenever you need it. Refreshing stop for resetting your brain when you,re too stressed or about tto lose control. Great for everday practice

  119. I really enjoyed this meditation. I usually close my eyes when I meditate so when you said to keep the eyes open, I was a bit skeptical, thinking that I might not be able to relax. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was very relaxed–almost fell asleep. I will definitely use this with my clients and I can see how beneficial it can be for my clients–and for me!

  120. I regularly meditate, and it is always a great treat to stop what I am doing and focus on my breathing. It is something that I try to encourage my students to practice too.

  121. I am a huge mindfulness fan. I love to meditate so this was very relaxing to me. After you consistently practice these things, I find it becomes more and more of your natural state.

  122. I found this pleasant and similar to the mindful breathing exercises I share with my students.
    Will try to apply it next time in class.

  123. I enjoy mindfulness and am a strong believer in meditation and breathing exercises.
    HOWEVER- I am shocked at how many parents are against it, and even when given a simple explanation sheet they still oppose. Most parents cite religious beliefs and are not open minded enough to recognize that these exercises have nothing to do with any religious belief system.

  124. I am a strong believer in mindfulness strategies and breathing; however it is something that I have personal difficulty with. I struggle to have a quiet mind and even having eyes open for this exercise I felt that my eyes darted much more than they calmly scanned the room.

    I do use mindfulness and biofeedback exercises with my students to work on breathing, heart rate, and overall impulse control. I think the biofeedback component and the visuals help with buy ins for students since as mentioned by others, students often have difficulty taking the exercises seriously.

  125. I loved this exercise. I teach Mindfulness to my students and I like the suggestions of scannng the room to feel safe, orientation. I alos liked the suggestion that it is okay for your eyes to rest anywhere that is the natural resting place. I rarely do my own practice anymore so it was so relaxing to sit here and be guided through the breathing exercise. I felt at peace for those moments.

  126. Although I practice mindfulness/meditation personally & have for years, it’s still sometimes a struggle to “shut off” my thoughts. I liked that this exercise didn’t dwell on shutting thoughts off, but rather gently redirected to focusing on breathing. I teach mindfulness techniques to most of my clients & find they usually enjoy it once they get passed the intial akwardness of trying something new. I think this exercise brings something new to the table because it encourages keeping your eyes open, since relaxing with closed eyes is very difficult for some of my more hyper-vigilant clients.

  127. This exercise was difficult for me to get into. Initially, I noticed I could not comfortably keep my eyes open and I felt pressure in my head, neck, and back. After a little while, I let go of keeping good posture and immediately felt less pressure…which eventually allowed me to relax my shoulders and myself. The deep breathing made me a little light headed. I was most surprised by the hearing part of the exercise…I feel it distracted my brain enough to let me fully relax. Now that I am finished with the exercise I feel…strange. I am not yet sure if this is something I would like to explore further.

  128. Carmen Siegfried

    The exercise was easy to do, however I can see how it can be challenging to complete if an individual has a space that is disorganized. I believe that it is important to do on a consistent basis in order for a person to be re-centered.

    ~April Johns

  129. The exercise was easy to do, however I can see how it can be challenging to complete if an individual has a space that is disorganized and how such an environment can present the individual with negative emotions. I believe that it is important to do on a consistent basis, in an environment that is free of all types of distractions, in order for a person to be re-centered.

  130. I believe that it is important to practice mindfulness in general, on a consistent basis, in an environment that is free of all types of distractions. Mindfulness slows down fast-paced environments and allows individuals to connect and be present with their immediate surroundings. This activity was a great reminder on how a specific meditative activity helps to refocus my brain to an even playing field.

  131. I found myself wanting to close my eyes and drift off to my safe space but I did appreciate the concept of scanning the environment. The children I work with often are agitated and active often find it hard to close their eyes. I liked the idea of using a bell to signify different phases of the meditation. Overall, I believe if I practice this I may be able to teach it to those I work with.

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