Bell Breathing Practice for Children
I spend quite a bit of my week teaching children’s mindfulness and yoga classes throughout the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroxplex. Teaching mindfulness to children and teens is one of my greatest passions because I truly believe it is one of the best skills we can cultivate to have more mastery over our emotions. When we are adept at working with our emotions, we are no longer at the whim of our emotions and have more control over our behavior. This creates the space for so much freedom and opportunity in our lives. We can free ourselves from those automatic stress reaction patterns and habits we find ourselves trapped in when dealing with stress. Can you relate to automatically reaching for food to soothe stress or to habitually laying on the car horn when someone cuts you off in traffic or to yelling at your child when you trip over a toy they leave out on the floor? We all have our maladaptive automatic patterns for dealing with stress. They often developed when we were very young. While they may have served us well at some point earlier in our lives, they no longer fulfill that same purpose and can be the cause of much suffering for ourselves and others in our lives. So much of the time, we do not even realize we have these behavior patterns. Through our mindfulness practice, we can become aware of our automatic behavior patterns that have previously eluded us. Mindfulness can allow us to break free from our automatic stress reaction patterns to have more mastery over our lives. And you know what? Children and teens can become aware of this too! How wonderful would it be for our children to learn their automatic reaction patterns to stress and how to free themselves from them? Think of how this could empower them at such a young age in their lives!
I love to use this visual when working with children to demonstrate how mindfulness creates the space for us to respond versus react to the stressors in our lives.
This visual was inspired by the Viktor Frankl quote, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Our mindfulness practice creates the pause. We have so much more control over our lives than we realize.
So where do we start? Spending a few minutes of practicing mindfulness with your child or teen a day is a beautiful place to start! Children and teens love this bell breathing exercise that I learned from Thich Nhat Hanh! I have seen this practice calm a large group of high energy children! It is wonderful to practice one-on-one with your child as well, and can cultivate a greater sense of connection between you and your child. All you need is a singing bowl, bell, or chime for this practice!