Week 2 Practice Assignment: Hindbrain Breathing

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

  1. Sam Himelstein, Ph.D.

    Hi all,

    So glad to see all the engagement in the first week. Just an FYI, on my screen the audio file looks a bit light, but it is right there under the video.

    When I practice this type of meditation I often feel relaxed afterwards and a sense of calm. It doesn’t always happen but I believe the practice of orienting my eyes first and then taking deep breaths in and out gets me in a calm place faster as I don’t get distracted by as many thoughts when my eyes are closed. I practice some form of meditation everyday (and teach mindfulness to youth as well) and it has drastically changed my life!!!

    Looking forward to hearing from you all!!!

  2. Breathing exercises such as these are absolutely a part of my daily life. I find that I largely go to them when I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed, to help to calm the chaos. The act of placing or orienting oneself, and perhaps even out loud saying “I am safe” can be very powerful and comforting. I have used these grounding techniques when working with victims of sexual assault or rape but for some reason am yet to translate to my current work with victims of violence. This is definitely something that I would like to integrate into my practice, as appropriate, with all young people experiencing high levels of distress. Thanks for opening my mind a little.

  3. The relaxation breathing was nice. It got rid of a bad headache and made me feel more calm and at ease with an increased awareness of my surroundings. It was pleasant and it will be helpful for my clients.

  4. I use breathing exercises and truly think they are a way of relaxing and centering oneself. I’ve used this myself and with students and have found that it is helpful for grounding someone who is experiencing a panic attack or some other stressful situation. This exercise was engaging for me, and I found it useful and more flexible of an exercise since most practices I’ve used or studied require you to close your eyes and go to some “happy place.” Although I don’t find that kind of sensitivity completely overbearing, I think that keeping eyes open and focusing on breathing can help a student maintain a sense of control and awareness over their environment which may help talk them down from their elevated state more quickly and efficiently. I personally find it much more comfortable to keep eyes open while trying to use steady breathing as a calming mechanism.
    I find that if meditation or breathing exercises can’t be implemented in an emergency situation, it’s important to keep a steady tone in your voice and remind the student that they are safe and not being threatened, or that they are in the process of moving to a safe place. As the last two videos have stated, a sense of logic is not accessible when someone’s brain has gone into emergency mode. I once asked two students in a row to remove their hats since we were taking a test. The first student quickly apologized and obliged, while the second student accused me of accusing him of cheating and yelled at me curtly in front of about 80 students. Without flinching and using an even tone, I let the student know that I wasn’t profiling, and that it wouldn’t have been fair to Student #1 if I had only asked him directly to take off his hat when there were other people in the class wearing hats. That comment and the nature of my reaction quickly grounded Student #2, and he apologized and took his hat off. I realized that there was unwarranted hostility, but I decided to not take it personally and most importantly tailored my comment so it wouldn’t make him feel like I was putting him further on the spot.

  5. I normally have my eyes closed and try to stay focused on my breath with intention to not think. This exercise was great in that I was able to “feel the awareness” of my surroundings. I think this is useful for my students who’ve dealt with trauma because they can develop an attunement of their surroundings to be able to assess the reality in that moment. They can practice that walking though the halls or at home. I will try this with my students and report back.

  6. I liked trying this meditation with my eyes open as a way of orienting myself to my surroundings and the safety of them, though to be completely honest I had a hard time keeping them open and found myself dozing aa couple times. I found the experience overall pleasant and I appreciate an opportunity to have a somewhat enforced time and space for a brief meditation. I have found it hard to have a consistent formal meditation practice though I certainly use informal mindfulness on the daily, especially at work, taking deep breaths and focusing on the present moment where, most often, everything is okay. I have been using mindfulness with my clients in group and look forward to trying this one which encourages them to keep their eyes open and orient them to their surroundings.

  7. I have used this in the past but my kiddo, ( RAD) has always fought it. Now, I know why, she was afraid with her eyes closed. I will try this again with her, this time eyes open. I found for myself it was very nice to know you can still calm yourself and relax even with your eyes open. I will use this in the future in my practice.


  8. This is certainly a relaxing exercise. I did find that my mind wondered a lot more with my eyes open. In order to focus on the activity, I would have more success with my eyes closed. That being said, I can see how many young people would feel more comfortable and safe with their eyes open.

  9. I’m somewhat new to formal meditation. I have a difficult time making it a priority and when I do it, I get distracted easily or get disrupted. Keeping my eyes open and orienting helped me relax faster, which I feel is what I need. I found myself automatically closing my eyes the more relaxed I became, which was encouraging. However, I was by myself and made sure I wasn’t going to be disrupted. I realize that this may not always be the case in our particular circumstances working with youth, especially in a group setting. What has been everyone’s experience in doing this type of meditation with the young people you work with? Unfortunately, I’m between jobs at the moment so I won’t have the opportunity to implement this or any other techniques until the end of the month.

  10. I enjoyed this hindbrain breathing. I found it relaxing, and enjoyed staying in contact with my environment. I often do this on my own as well (breathe with eyes open and the intention to relax the parasympathetic nervous system). I do find that many students I work with like to keep their eyes open, but I haven’t given them permission to scan the room with their eyes, to keep reorienting themselves to the present environment. I am interested to see if it will help ground them more.

  11. There was no audio for me to listen to when i clicked play. However, I do have several meditation apps on my phone that I use for myself and my son.

  12. Sam Himelstein, Ph.D.

    Hi Darby, try using a different browser like chrome or firefox. You aren’t the only one who’s been having issues. Don’t hesitate to contact me via the contact form or at sam@centerforadolescentstudies.com for help. I also emailed you. I will get it to work for you!!!

  13. I found this to be extremely peaceful. I loved the simplicity of the exercise. I could see myself teaching this exercise to others.

  14. when i attempted to listen to the audio recording on my iPad i could never get it to play… i used Safari & Google Chrome… so i then used Safari on my laptop and it worked just fine!!! maybe iPads are not compatible with the audio?

    …the breathing exercise helped me bring my consciousness and awareness back to my body… which helped me feel more grounded and down to earth. Before the exercise I was experiencing a lot of cognition… frontal lobe activity… thoughts about my day… thinking… thinking… and more thinking concerning my schedule & practice needs etc. …the Breathing exercise helped me feel more present in my body… shifting awareness from abstract thoughts to being physically present in my body… and my flow of thought slowed down and seemed more manageable and less controlling and dominating over my consciousness. Yes!!! this seems like a wise activity to do with the kids I work with… digging it!!!

  15. I have used this technique each time I go to the doctor before my blood pressure is taken. I has a significant effect and my numbers are always good. Before I began this practice my numbers were much higher. I have also used it when I notice a tenseness in my muscles to relax and return to SELF. I will focus more on practicing it with the children I see to give them a “tool” to use to calm themselves. I also like the idea of having eyes open to keep the clients in the present moment.

  16. Wonderful contribution especially the note to scan the room before hand and then to simply allow the eyes to focus, without closing. An excellent alternative to asking someone to immediately close their eyes and pay attention… which can often take quite a bit of time, and feel threatening. this Orientation practice is really helpful to anyone not familiar with meditation or attention to the breath exercises. Will use it with my students in university as well!

  17. I tried this in a rather cluttered office environment, and I felt distracted and a bit stressed. So I tried again gazing out the window at the birds and the trees, which was much more relaxing. Both times I had to keep gently bringing myself back to the actual practice because I was thinking about how I might teach hindbrain breathing rather than focusing on my own experience.

  18. I appreciate this technique as it can help clients and myself calm down in any given situation. I’ve been meditating for years and find meditation to be helpful in ALL aspects of ones life. It is very successful to help reduce agitation and angst in both client and provider/therapist alike.

  19. just to add, I felt calm during the meditation, as I’ve been meditating for years. I do think it’s possible to teach and model this exercise with youth and clients in general who are agitated. Not all contexts allow for the calm space to do such an exercise i.e. Booking Unit, or Housing Unit. In the jail context, an office is quite a luxury to come by so most assessments and meetings with clients are done in open/exposed areas for safety purposes. when a room is provided for more private sessions, then I can see this exercise working really well.

  20. This was very nice to do at the end of my work day. I found myself imagining to be a big lazy lizard on a sunny sand bank absorbing warmth through my belly. I also noticed that it took awhile for the tension from the day to melt away. thanks!

  21. I tried this in my office and my door was open. I didn’t feel very relaxed and was interrupted a couple of times. However during the middle I was able to sit quietly, let my eyes wander and clear my mind. I do practice meditation a couple of nights a week and felt it was easy to get to that point. I believe I would be able to practice and teach it to others.

  22. The first time I attempted this exercise I found the experience somewhat difficult and frustrating as it wasn’t easy for me to connect with my hind brain. I felt that the room I used was not very conducive for this exercise; as I had to contend with hearing the sounds of traffic outside my home. However, second time I felt calmer; was more in tuned and less concerned about the fact that my mind occasionally wandered. I liked the fact that I could keep my eyes open and scan the environment to ensure that I was safe. There is a stronger possibility that I will consistently practice this exercise and teach it to my students.

  23. I find myself getting more comfortable with breathing exercises, like this one. I studied mindfulness earlier this year because I wanted to use it with some of my students. I found that if I didn’t become invested in it that I could never get my students to buy into it. I still find it difficult to build mediation into my self care everyday but when I do take the time to do it it; it is very helpful and relaxing!

  24. This is a new concept for me personally and therapeutically with the kids I work with. While I am not completely comfortable with the idea, in using it in this exercise I did have a positive experience, and felt very calm and peaceful within a short amount of time. It is something I will consider using with the kids I am involved with. Thank You.

  25. I have done a similar type of type of breathing exercise as part of yoga. I agree with what others have said about my mind wandering more when my eyes were closed so practicing this with my eyes open helped me relax more quickly and also be less distracted.

  26. I’ve used this kind of breathing in many ways. When I was in a very toxic relationship, we would meet each other face to face and take 3 deep breaths before sitting down and having any difficult discussions. Although the relationship ended, this is a practice I will carry forward into my next relationship. I love using this technique on the kids I work with. When I notice they’re highly anxious, I’ll give them these instructions in short, factual instructions such as “listen to my voice” so that I’m not trying to rationalize with them why I’m instructing them to deep breathe, but just to get them out of the anxious state they’re in. It works wonderfully. Of course, I practice what I preach and use this on a daily basis as well.

  27. I’m a big fan of guided meditation in my personal life, so I’ve done some similar breathing exercises before. I liked the eye orientation bit to start. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it put quite that way before, and I found it a helpful way to settle in. Keeping my eyes open helped me not to try too hard to focus (or un-focus) on anything in particular. I did find myself noticing things like the dirt on the floor that needs to be vacuumed, but tried to then bring myself back to my breath. I think I will see if keeping my eyes open, or for longer at the start, in my personal meditation practice makes a difference. In my professional work, I can see teaching this strategy to teachers as a way to get their room full of active students ready to concentrate again after a free-time period like recess or even just to start the day off if any students come in from a stressful morning at home.

  28. I love the activity as it brought peace and calmness over something I was experiencing stress about. It calmed me so that I could focus on the task at hand. It was a great reminder of how being quiet and breathing deeply can calm us down internally so we see the situation more fully.

  29. The breathing exercise was very helpful. It certainly calmed me from a very hectic day. I see this an very easy technique that I can continue to use in my daily life and I most certainly will use this exercise with my students.

  30. Thank you for offering this technique! It was a nice combination of things i am familiar with, but hadn’t put them together in this way. I felt a lot of safety and also experienced more focus and clarity after I finished. I personally meditate with my eyes closed, but the eyes open option is such am important one in this work

  31. A much-needed reminder of how something so simple can bring a deep sense of relief. I’m hoping my clients will be open to starting and/or ending sessions with this technique.

  32. The meditation experience was very different from what I am used to. I felt like I wanted to close my eyes as this is how I usually meditate. I got into a good rhythm with my breathing and as I scanned the room, I felt like I was able to focus in on details of my environment that I had not noticed previously, like the way the milk left a beautiful mark on the glass I had been using a few minutes before I started the meditation. I was shocked that my eyes were drawn to the wallpaper in one section of my hotel room. The wallpaper looks like a snake or alligator skin. I also noticed that I was not attracted to my books. lol. or to the floor or the bed. The sound of the air conditioner became more pronounced. When I heard the bells one after the other, I started to feel hurried, I am not sure why. Overall, I really enjoyed doing the meditation and look forward to hearing more about what this experience represents in relation to trauma.

  33. This was truly an AHA experience. Although I have been practicing meditation for years, I have never done it through the lens of eyes open and scanning the environment. It really helped to ground and find safety in the momeent. This will definitely be a key technique for me when I teach survivors of domestic & sexual violence. Grateful for your teaching!

  34. I practice scanning my environment as a coping skill when I start to feel afraid, anxious, or threatened. I love this scanning, it really works for me and helps me to calm down. During and after the exercise I felt as if time had stopped, and I was able to only be with my body rather than my critical mind. Thanks!

  35. LOVED this exercise. I found it less stressful than most meditation practices. Sam I really liked your emphasis on the fact that it wasn’t about the mind. It took the pressure off for me. I also appreciated looking around my room. I am in my office that also doubles as my granddaughter’s room on the weekend. I enjoyed taking the time to focus on her little “touches” around the room. It was a chance to slow down and be in the moment. I also liked your suggestion to focus on our ears and listen to the bell closely at the end of the exercise. In some of our behavior practices, we practice whole body listening. I am going to adopt the bell listening for the session on the ears. Thank you! I feel so relaxed.

  36. I can see me learning and teaching this. I become so relaxed I caught myself trying to fall asleep. This would be a good exercise to help individuals unwind before bed.

  37. This was a great exercise. I did it at the end of a really long day and it helped me relax before bed. I can see this working with the people I work with at my school.

  38. Most of the breathing exercises I have done have involved closing the eyes.
    I have taught a deep breathing exercise in Mental Health First Aid classes using small bottles of bubbles. Eyes are open but not scanning the room. I liked the use of scanning the room for young people who have experienced trauma and who may have trust concerns. I also liked the inclusion of the sense of hearing with the bells.

  39. Although I have been practising meditation for a long time, I had not previously experienced the technique of ‘orienting’. Flowing on from the theoretical discussion, it makes so much sense to support safety through lightly scanning the environment while simultaneously breathing slowly and deeply. I have a practical question about using this technique with young people. In group work, can it become unsettling for children/teens to be looking around the room which may include looking at each other? (It’s fine to hold this question over to week 4 if that’s more appropriate). Thank you very much.

  40. This was really useful, as I have not had experience of breathing exercises with my eyes open. I imagine that this would feel much safer to victims of violence instead of the more traditional eyes-closed approach. We will definitely discuss incorporating this tool in our team.

  41. Practiced in my office at work which was probably not the most conducive for this kind of exercise. It was hard at first to not be distracted by outside sounds. Found the deep breathing relaxing and can see how with practice this could be a great tool.

  42. I use many mindfulness practices focused on the senses with my students, this exercise was more “meditative” in focusing on the breathing as well. I like the combination. I tried this in my office (which is in a high school), so perhaps it wasn’t the calmest place, I agree with the person above who noted this would may be better outside.

  43. I usually meditate with my eyes closed so this was different. My mind wondered constantly but with practice it would be more focused in my breath and environment. I felt my anxiousness calmed and I was more relaxed afterwards. This is a type of meditation I can do anywhere without looking as tho I’m sleeping.

  44. This was a really helpful exercise. As many other folks stated, I appreciated being able to keep my eyes open and would imagine that should I try this with youth it would feel safer to them as well. I do some breathing exercises with my youth, usually not as long as this one though and it felt good to spend this much time just breathing.

  45. I liked the different approach of keeping eyes open and allowing myself to look around the room when I noticed I had zoned out. I can see that this version might be a good one to use to introduce mindfulness meditation to teens, since many of them do feel challenged by closing their eyes.

    BTW, my husband’s current edition of neaToday (National Education Association) came this week and the cover story is “TRAUMA The Effect on Children and Learning.” Sam, your course is on the cutting edge!

  46. hi All, i enjoyed this breathing exercise. i am doing this late at night and am pretty sleepy, so i was noticing how tired i am. scanning the room a bit was a new idea for me, i found it kind of distracting but i could see how it could be a great entry point for the kids. i will work with them using this and see how it goes. i do have a question, in that way that kids in trauma can always be scanning for danger, i wondered if this might put them more on “high alert” rather than allowing them to come off of an alert frame of mind into more relaxing…

  47. Stephanie Gonzalez

    It was very relaxing. I was able to focus an relax in a somewhat chaotic room. This is a gret technique that I will definitely be using for myself and others.

  48. … After the meditation I felt calm, relaxed and centered… I really like the concept of ‘orienting’ , scanning your environment,, very in-keeping with the .flight,fight freeze reaction wherein we would be very aware of our environment and seeking safety,,, When I work with my adolscent students I usually have them close their eyes,but I do see some of them are embarrassed to do that , and I now realize that they dont feel totally comfortable=safe … (a-ha!),,, some cover up their discomfort by making light of meditation,, make a mudra and start chanting OOOOmmmm… Also, I think the three deep breaths to start really help us get out of our heads and grounded back into our bodies. Those are also like repeated ´sighs¨which always is relaxing… As I live in a VERY Catholic culture I use a Vibra Tone instrument, which sounds just like a bowl, but doesn´t have an’exotic= ie; Buddhist, non-Christian appearance. Ironically it is considered a ¨latin tonal percussion instrument¨although I could not find one here in Mexico. I finally had a friend who was traveling bring me one down from the US… and it turns out they´re made in… New Jersey! ( oh… and I use the VibraTone in Mindful listening exercises, which is great with kids because you can REALLY whack the instrument.. which I would NEVER do to a bowl- and the tone lasts a very long time. C;)

  49. I learned SE “orienting” somewhat differently than this; and teach it more in the way I learned it: using the neck with the eyes, finding the exits, pendulation A LOT, back to ground and a parasympathetic breath. However it’s taught, it’s a great practice that I’ve used with all sorts of folks, even advanced yogis. Thanks for introducing it here.

  50. Thank you for introducing this exercise, very calming for me and especially appreciate the orientation piece. Certainly helps me be more relationally present if I do this a few times a day. I wish I could do more of this kind of direct mindful meditation with the children I parent/teach (more pre-teens than adolescent), but most have such high level activation they are as yet unable to sit and focus on themselves – or ‘feel’ themselves, especially internally- to this degree, even when in their most regulated state, and some are so demand avoidant they refuse to try it if you specifically ask them to. So I try to approach mindfulness more indirectly; its important they see us practicing it routinely ourselves, knowing they can choose to join in if they want to, and I will catch them teaching it to someone else after they pretended not to have been listening! We try to reduce their fight/flight arousal through lots of proprioceptive/sensory and mindful movement/physical activities, helping their bodies get some of the feedback/containment it needs, leading them to eventually change the ‘energy of the game’. I guide them towards orienting through the day, I just do it more spontaneously in the moment e.g. as they are going about their usual business and I notice they are getting a little disregulated, I’ll prompt them to check in if there is anything in the external/internal environment that is threatening their sense of safety, noting if perceived or real threat exists, and how they know that (and even just getting their eyes/neck scanning and rotating again, can begin to interrupt a freeze/disociation pattern they might be falling into). Direct focusing on breathing can be a trigger for some, especially as they tend to focus on the negative sensations, or notice their heart increase more which causes more anxiety, so if thats the case, I ask them to simply noticing what happens to the breath spontaneously as they orient, without needing to do anything specific with it.

  51. I use breathing and medition, guided imagery and other mindfulness techniques with students. Some of the more traumatized students that I work with initially have a difficult time with the breathing so I use meditation and a Tibetan singing bowl to help achieve the same effect of calming the nervous system. I have one young man who loves to ring the meditation chimes himself and hold them next to his ears/head to hear and feel as they resonate through his body and create calm. I believe the resonance helps to settle his brain and body in times of distress. The Tibetan singing bowl is a more active practice if the student does it themselves as opposed to me doing it and I feel it is calming and empowering as they are the ones completing the action and directly causing the effect/regulation.

  52. Hi Sam and fellow cohort,
    I have learned this a bit through Mindful Schools -Chris M will use pictures and videos of animals orienting in their environment, noting the play of the polyvagal system, and within the autonomic nervous system. Today was interesting for me. Although it is not uncommon for me to feel tightness in my solar plexus, I found it was very tight today. I could not take a full deep breath that for me represents my full activation of my parasympathetic nervous system. Thank you for this. I have been laid out flat for the last four days and have not been able to get any work done. I have felt better today and have ‘attacked’ my work all day today. However, it was a signal to me of my own quietly whispered narrative in my mind that I am ‘under the gun.’ So – long story short…it’s a rare warm, sunny day in Chicago. And as I have not been outside in days, I’m quiting work right now to go sit outside – to take care of myself – hitting the pause button. In this moment – I am indeed safe, okay…and just fine…(no gun insight!).
    Thanks –

    I do have a question though – I have gotten some push back when referring to the Triune theory – I’ve been meaning to ask Chris McKenna this too…There is a strong voice in science that is dismissive of any usefulness to this theory? Can you speak to this? Thanks!

  53. I found this exercise pleasant and relaxing. I enjoyed “orienting” and found it very grounding. I found myself focusing in on things in my environment I find pleasant and don’t always take the time to notice (plants, art on the wall) and found myself naturally breathing deeply. I am also pregnant and found myself feeling how good this is for the little tiny being inside me to be relaxing with me. When I take the time to calm down my internal environment, the baby is in a better environment 🙂

  54. I’ve taught some mindfulness-based techniques with youth, and I always love learning new ways to teach these skills. I really liked using the visual as a cue to orient in the room. I wonder if this has been found to feed into hypervigilance at all with youth who we might see constantly darting their eyes around the room? Do you sometimes give guidance to look toward a certain part of the room or look toward something just in front of you if you know it’s a young person who is more hypervigilant?

  55. This was a lovely experience and very relaxing. I hadn’t done this particular type of meditation before and found it surprisingly hard to keep my eyes open. I like it because working with adolescents, there is often a reluctance to closing eyes because it feels awkward or too vulnerable. Surprising how quickly the sheer focus in breath and a focal point can bring a calmer state.

  56. I have tried doing mindfulness meditation for some time now but I always find it hard to either stay awake because I get really relax and start falling asleep or I cannot stop myself from thinking about what I need to get done tomorrow. I think I will need more practice and try not to meditate when am tired. I might need to rethink how I feel about mindfulness meditation to really make it an everyday practice. With more practice am sure I will learn how to do it right. I won’t try it with my young people until am sure I am doing it right.

  57. So soothing. Also noted how important for traumatized youth to keep their eyes open so they can feel safe. I started uptight and ended feeling relaxed and peaceful I value the bell for beginning and ending the session. The sound of the bell imbues the experience with a sense of the sacred. Thank you Sam! Works on deeper physiological and mental levels!

  58. This is a great addition to my toolbox! Also good to have an exercise where clients can keep their eyes open!

  59. Apologies for the late post! I get a snow day today –feels like a gift.

    What was it like for you? Pleasant? Difficult?
    As I work through a long list of tasks, along with a tense belly and back, I welcomed this exercise. I actually skipped my meditation this morning in order to get to work on the things that were piling up and causing stress! ha ha! Classic silly human trick. So.. to have this be part of my list was perfect. I sunk immediately into a quiet place, could feel the tension in my belly and back loosen. I liked having eyes open, watching the snow fall outside.

    How did you feel afterwards? I feel much more relaxed and ready to just put one foot in front of the other.

    Is this something you feel like you could practice consistently and one day teach to the people you work with?
    I am very excited about this model Sam! Bravo. Offering an open-eyed meditation for teens feels very important but I have not been happy with my efforts to lead such a meditation. I love the pacing and the wording. It is very natural and easy. I really look forward to leading it with my 11th and 12th grade students. Thank you!

  60. It is always good to practice different meditation tools yourself so that you can teach them back to the clients you work with. I found that over the years meditation work out differently among different clients. I find this exercise particularly different in terms of opening the eyes and also using the meditation bell. I find it to be a different experience. This is a great addition to my meditation techniques. Thank you.

  61. I found this very relaxing. I was definitely in a more calmer and tranquil state at the end. I would like to try this with my students. They will like that it doesn’t require them to close their eyes or focus on anything in particular, just breathing. Thank you!

  62. Haha! Tried this exercise—at home on a snow day, with kids whining and dogs barking! The deep breathing still helped but probably not as much as if I was in a calm space!!! Promise will try it again when I am in a calmer environment!

  63. That was very peaceful and relaxing. Your voice is very soothing! I really appreciated the suggestion about scanning the environment with the eyes. I’ve never experienced that before, and found it to feel very safe. Thank you.

  64. I found it hard to scan the room while doing this, I enjoy gazing down and especially closing my eyes when I sit. It helps me to quiet my mind and pay attention to how I am feeling. I can see though how this could be useful if closing your eyes or gazing down feels unsafe. I can also see how it would be useful if in a public place and wanting to have the connection but still want to be aware of your surroundings.

  65. Initially, during the “scanning” exercise, my breathing was shallow and quick, which I only became aware of after the directive to take three deep breaths. That simple shift in breathing changed my whole physiology, I realized how tense I had been right up until that moment. It makes me think that often, even in playing a supportive, advocacy role for youth who experience high levels of PTSD and consequent triggers, my physical stance and verbal tone may unconsciously be transmitting signals of anxiety or tension to the kids. This may inadvertently trigger them, whereas, taking the time to bring my attention to my breath, my surroundings, my posture and level of calmness will not only help my own equilibrium but will make me more attentive and responsive for the kids I work with. Thank you for sharing this exercise!

  66. I really enjoyed this meditation… slightly different than others that I’ve engaged in in that you requested we keep our eyes open. This was different for me and took a bit of an adjustment, but mid-way through the exercise it allowed me to connect to my surroundings and breath simultaneously, taking a bit of pressure off not getting too attached to thoughts (which is always the crux for me). This was really relaxing. I wear a watch that monitors my heart rate and it dropped by almost 10 beats per minute 🙂

  67. It’s 6:00 a.m. in the morning in Belize and I just did the exercise, I can’t believe the sense of calm and peace I felt after a while, at first I was a bit distracted as I gazed around the room but the more I inhaled and exhaled my body went into a mode of calm. I will use this technique at the beginning of my day to start me off on a more self controlled mode where I empty my thoughts of everything and start my day more focused and prepared to work with my youth.

  68. It was very relaxing, but I still maintained a comfortable level of awareness. It was a good change-up from many other exercises which have a focus on thoughless mindfulness. I liked still being mindful of my surroundings while benefitting from the calm which came from the focussed breathing. Very good. I feel like this could be beneficial as a tool in the future once I get better at it.

  69. Meditation is sometimes difficult for me as my mind wanders, and although I can sometimes gentle bring it back, I really appreciated the sort of laid back focus on just breathing and being aware. With that, the fact that the eyes can stay open was comforting for me, and I can totally see how it could be comforting for others, especially those with a trauma history or just discomfort around others. Very relaxing.

  70. Hi All,

    It feels so calming to return to the breath. It gives me a feeling of comfort, fullness, and safety. Transitioning in and out of breathing practices can be difficult, at times, but once I’m there it feels like the right place to be! I have many daily breathing practices over time and I feel comfortable, and often do, share it with the youth with whom I work.

  71. I very much enjoyed this breath practice and look forward to including it in the meditation and breath practices offered in my classroom. I particularly like how the eyes are encouraged to wander and the that the mind can also do what it does. I think this will be a really practical technique for my students to practice when they are outside the classroom and feel like calming their system.

  72. I really enjoyed this practice! It’s really different from the meditations I normally do which focus on training the attention or just being present with the eyes closed. There was an added level of comfort with being able to let the eyes wander and not needing to train the attention in any way – I can see how this could be a really gentle and powerful exercise for someone with trauma. I’m excited to explore this more and add this to the toolkit I have for myself and my students. Is this how you would facilitate this for your students as well? Thanks so much!

  73. It definitely released something from my system. Meditation is always a good stress/tension reliever. I really enjoy the mindfulness of breathing aspect of it.

  74. A good grounding technique before seeing a young person, to become more aware of the interaction and what is being communicated.

  75. I really enjoy these types of breathing exercises, I tend to use them at night to help me fall asleep. This is something I definitely do with my patients and will keep on doing!

  76. Forest Malatesta

    This was an interesting experience to practice with eyes open. I found it comforting to assess the space prior to shifting my focus onto my breath. Generally, I love the opportunity to go deep within with closed eyes. This experience felt bright and light while also offering a deep sense of calm. Beautiful.

  77. I always find it interesting to meditate with eyes open. It’s easier for me with eyes closed. I don’t know that I am necessarily distracted by what is happening around me, but maybe self-consciousness. It was easier for me this time since you prefaced it with “orienting”. I am in SE training so that was a helpful re-frame for me.

  78. This is a practice of Orienting that I’m actually quite practiced in, and I find that I like to use both my eyes and my ears to orient. To hear the world around me as much as I’m seeing it. It really helps to be in a comfortable and safe space to practice, but doing it when I’m in busy public places really helps me to ground any excess energy that I collect. Thanks for this sweet reminder of and guiding us through this practice. Really important to be able to turn our necks and be fully immersed in where we are here and now.

  79. Exercise was very calming, I have done a lot of yoga and meditation is something I have had to work at and now love. Very easy to incorporate this into a group exercise with youth.

  80. This was a much needed break in the middle of a chaotic day with my toddler! I take deep breaths a lot and teach my daughter to do the same and have often used deep breathing with the youth I have worked with especially while incorporating lessons on the brain and stress triggers. However, I never breath for 5 minutes straight and I noticed a difference in how I felt after sustaining this deep breathing exercise for longer than I usually would. I had zoned out on something outside my window and noticed that I had a hard time keeping my eyes open and instead of fighting that off, I just let them close. I actually felt a bit dizzy/light-headed when I opened my eyes and re-oriented myself to the room.

  81. I thoroughly enjoyed this breathing exercise. I feel more focused, calm and centered than I did before the exercise. I noticed myself anticipating it to end, as I was a little cold and uncomfortable taking the deep breaths. But overall, I see it as highly beneficial for me and my clients! Thank you 🙂

  82. I really enjoyed this exercise. I practice mindfulness regularly and teach it to youth. It’s such a powerful practice and the benefits are incredible.

  83. As a DBT therapist, mindfulness plays a big part of my personal self-care and practice. I loved this meditation because it is one that can be done at any level. I can’t wait to try it with my “kids.”

  84. I really enjoy this simple breathing exercise. When I’ve done it with teens, I had them read through it first on a printed version so that they knew what was coming, which seemed to help when it was new and ‘weird’. But overall they were incredibly open to it and welcomed it, recognizing themselves that a few minutes of calm was very needed in their chaotic days.

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