Category Archives: Breath Awareness

Breathing with Anchor Words

felt flowersTomorrow at Om School, we’ll practice mindful breathing with the anchor words,  “breathing in,” and “breathing out.”

We’ll imagine ourselves as flowers with petals open as we breathe in… and petals closed as we breathe out… then illustrate what we imagined in our Mindful Schools workbooks.

We’ll recite Thich Nhat Hanh‘s gatha for mindful breathing:

“Breathing in, I see myself as a flower.
Breathing out, I feel fresh.”

Then we’ll enjoy a felt-flower sewing project using this tutorial.   We’ll try to connect our breath with each stitch.  Breathing in: the needle goes down.  Breathing out: the needle comes back up.  Each flower petal receives two stitches.

These “anchor words” come to us from the Discourse on the Full Awareness of Breathing – or Anapanasati Sutra — an ancient text that can be read here.

I’ll post photos of the children’s work here and on our Facebook page.  Be sure to stop back by!

Ocean Breathing, Mindful Breathing

IMG_1594Last week at Om School, the children practiced mindful breathing and enjoyed drawing what they discovered in their Mindful Schools workbooks.

First we put on our Mountain Bodies.  Then we opened our Fox Ears.  Next we just breathed normally… in and out… calm and at ease.  We call this our Ocean Breathing.

After a moment of breathing like this together, kids put one hand in the air — then placed it on their belly.  We continued to breathe like this for a few moments.  Some children noticed that their hand was moving up and down, in and out, with their belly.

Next, we placed one hand on our chest.  Breathing normally, some children noticed that their chest expands and contracts with each inhale and exhale.  Some children did not feel any movement here… so we tried something else.

mindful breathingI asked children to place a hand under their nose and see if they felt anything.  This one worked for everyone.  We breathed together like this for three breaths.  Then I asked the kids to draw what they experienced.

Why mindful breathing?  As Deborah Schoeberlein, author of, “Mindful Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness,” writes in this article:

“Practicing mindfulness enhances cognitive functioning (including memory, concentration and performance), improves emotion regulation and resilience, increases self-awareness (including of one’s own stress level) and promotes relaxation for the body as well as rest for the mind (including sleep).”

To my Om School kids and families — don’t forget that, in honor of President’s Week, we don’t have class this Wednesday, February 19th.  Until then, I hope you’re enjoying your practice!

With metta,
Chelsea

Mindfulness of Breath

Today the Om School kids practiced mindfulness of breathing. We began by sitting upright and tall like a mountain.  Then we placed one hand on our belly.  We noticed that our belly moves while we breathe — in and out… out and in.  Next, something amazing happened!  We began to feel calm and peaceful inside.

Look what happens to Elmo when he remembers his belly breathing…

Breath Awareness with Children: Finding the Gap

waning crescent moonThe Om School kids have been working with moon phases this semester.  We’re keeping journals with observations and verses for practice.  This is a fun way to keep our mindfulness practice consistent  and to become more aware of our interrelatedness with nature.

Because tonight is the new or dark moon, I shared this guided meditation yesterday in class.  I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

“Sit comfortably with your back supported.  You can sit in a chair or on the floor.  You can even try this exercise lying down; however, this might make you sleepy!  It’s best if we stay awake during this exercise! 

Breathe normally.  Notice where you can feel your breath.  Can you feel your breath under your nose?  In your chest?  In your belly?  Place a hand on your belly and see what happens.  Do you notice your belly rising and falling?  See how your belly gets bigger with your in-breath and smaller with your out-breath.  Stay with your breathing like this for a moment.  Notice the rising and falling of breath – in and out… deep and slow… like waves on the sea.  Don’t try to control your breath.  Just notice how it feels.  It may slow down on its own.  We can call this our Ocean Breathing.

With your hands by your sides, continue Ocean Breathing for a minute or maybe even two.

Now, let’s focus our attention on our in-breath.  As we breathe in, we can say quietly to ourselves:

“Breathing in: I am aware of my in-breath.”

And as we breathe out, we say:

“Breathing out: I am aware of my out-breath.”

Simple enough, right?  We can even shorten the phrases to:

“IN.  OUT.”

Let’s try this a few times.

Now let’s try something new.  What happens in between breathing in and breathing out?  Can you keep your attention there?  Notice that point where the in-breath transforms into the out-breath.  Notice what is there — or what is not there.  It’s sort of a gap.  

Continue breathing normally and notice the gap between the in-breath and the out-breath.  It’s like a tiny break – a beautiful rest as one thing continues into another.  It’s like the dark moon pausing in stillness before beginning anew.”

The Pause Between

candlemas verseA remarkable synchronicity is taking place this week.  We’re coming to the mid-way point to spring under a new moon.  Waldorf schools celebrate this mid-way point as Candlemas.  In ancient times, the holiday was honored as Imbolc – which means, “in the belly” and refers to the lambing season and the earth’s quickening.  The Celts honored the goddess Brigid at this time – goddess of hearth and home, of poetry, sacred fire, and water.

We know this holiday by another name: Groundhog Day.  It’s the time for peeking our heads out of our wintery dens and noticing the first, oh-so-subtle signs of spring.  Just beneath the earth surface, life is beginning to stir.

This mid-way point to spring feels like the pause between the in-breath of winter and the out-breath of spring.

The moon is also in the place in-between this week.  The new or dark moon is the quiet moment between waxing and waning… the gap where we can take a rest — and where we might just notice something unnameable.

In the next few posts, I’ll share some stories, verses, poems, and a guided meditation to enrich your experience of this beautiful time of year.  If you were able to attend yesterday’s class, I hope you enjoyed the bonfire, let go of difficulties with the waning moon, and let the light of your awareness shine with the coming of spring.

With metta,
Chelsea

Mindfulness with the Moon

moon_phases_by_izzabell-d3inrqvBy practicing with the moon, we can give continuity to our practice.  We can also become more aware of our interrelatedness with nature.  Through bringing rhythm and intention to our practice, we become more consistent and rooted in our practice.

For centuries, the full moon has been a metaphor for the awakened mind – the inherent nobility that dwells within each of us.  With the full moon, we can practice feeling this inner-nobility.

For me, the waning moon is like the out-breath.  It is a time for letting go.  It is a time for noticing difficult emotions and negative mental formations and shining our light of awareness on them so that they diminish with the vanishing moon.  It’s also a time for slowing down, for noticing when we’re caught in the habit-energy of rushing, and preparing to rest with the dark moon.

I see the dark or new moon is the pause between the in-breath and the out-breath.  It is the quiet space where we can rest before continuing on to the next phase of our own journey… the vastness from which all things emerge.

While the moon is growing, we can explore new ideas, nurture our creativity, and plant intentions to grow like seeds under the energy of the increasing moon.   In this way, the waxing moon is like an in-breath.

Verse for the waning crescent moon: “Sister Moon, your horns point west, breathe in, breathe out then take your rest.”

Verses for the new moon.  January 30, 2014:
Breathing in, my belly grows
Breathing out, my breathing slows
In between I feel the space

Here there is a quiet place

What does the moon mean to you?  Do you feel drawn to a particular moon phase?  I’d love to hear from you.