Finding the Breath

Finding the Breath

Mindfulness meditation always involves a need to focus on the breath, however it’s quite a novel concept to actually pay attention to our breathing as it a totally automatic process in our bodies. So, here’s some fun ideas to help children find and focus on their breath.

 

1. Ribbon Tube

This is such a fun art and craft activity as well as a useful mindfulness prop. In true blue peter style, all you need is a toilet roll, tissue paper and some glue. Paint your toilet roll any colour you wish and stick ribbons of tissue paper to one end. Then blow through the tube and watch the ribbons bounce about! What do you notice when you blow hard or soft? How about if you have a long breath or a short breath?

2. Blowing through a straw

A really simple activity that you can be as creative as you like with. Simply get a straw and notice what happens when you breath out through the straw. Then you can use it to notice the effect of your breath on things, perhaps put the straw in some water and see what happens, blow some little pompoms around the table, or be really creative and make a labyrinth maze to blow your pompom around.

3. Using a mirror

Its an old trick, but a good one when it comes to practising breathing. Stand in front of a mirror and breath on it to make it steam up – just like the bathroom mirror when it gets hot! Notice the shape and size of the mark you leave, can you write in it? What happens to the mark over time? Why not count your breaths as you watch the mark disappear again.

4. Playing with feathers

This can be a calming activity, or a more active one depending on how you want to use the feathers. Try just blowing the feather, notice what happens to it, how it moves. Notice what happens to the feather when you use different types of breath. Alternatively, try putting the feather on the palm of your hand and make it float with your breath.

5. Blowing bubbles

It doesn’t matter what age you are, bubbles are fun! I have found that everyone from 2 years to 102 years just love blowing bubbles. Turn it into a mindful activity by really paying attention to the breath that you are blowing and how it connects with the bubble mixture before finally creating the bubble. Paying closer attention to the breath means that you can often make different types of bubbles. Turn it into a family activity by having one person in charge of the bubbles and the others have to watch them as they drift past, noticing how many, the colours in them. Or, for older children encourage them to attach unwanted thoughts to the bubbles and watch them just float away.

6. Using a ‘breathing buddy’

For younger children, a lovely way to help them connect to their breathing is by using a breathing ‘buddy’. Invite them to choose a soft toy (not too big!) and place on their stomach as they lie-down. Invite them to breath in and out and notice how their buddy goes up and down with their breath.

7. Working in pairs

A great idea for families. Sit one person in front of the other and get the person at the back to place their hands on the back of the person in front of them. See if they can feel the breath and perhaps even count the breaths up to 10 before changing over. Alternatively, if you have two people who are approximately the same height then invite them to sit back to back and see if they can get their breathing in sync.

8. Turning windmills

Another lovely art and craft activity. Make your own pinwheel (there are loads of templates online) either with bought origami paper, or with paper that you have decorated yourself. I use a straw for the stick, a long pin to fasten and then pop a little bit of blu-tak on the end of the pin for safety. Notice how your breath turns the wheel. What is the best type of breathing to produce the best spin?

9. Dandelion fun

This time of year is perfect for the timeless fun activity of blowing away the dandelion seeds. I think I remember that you can tell the time by the number of breaths it takes to get rid of all the seeds?!

10. Bumble bee breathing

Making this noise is otherwise known as Bhramari in Yoga practices. Put your fingers in your ears, breathe in through your nose and hum as you breathe out. Repeat at least three times. Notice if this changes how you are feeling? Does it make any difference if you close your eyes and do it?

 

What is your favourite?!

Chartered Clinical Psychologist at | [email protected] | Website

Louise is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist specialising in Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Mindfulness. She set up Calm Strong Minds in 2017 to help families to access information and ideas on using mindfulness to develop resilience, confidence, and inner strength. Louise also works in a specialist London NHS hospital with children, young people, and their families.

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