When one of your children, (student or biological) is hysterical because they’ve just had an accident or some sort of perceived trauma, what’s your first challenge? You need to understand what has happened, so you can soothe them. This of course is impossible if the child is blabbering and sobbing incomprehensibly. Your naturally wise self invites the child to calm down. What’s the most effective way to help calm a child? “Alright sweetheart, take a deep breath, ooh there you go. Lovely, well done. And another deep breath and blow it out. That’s it. One more…” and voila, the little person is already calmer and quieter, has decreased the adrenalin and cortisol (stress hormone) in their cute little body and is now well on his or her way to being well again. They are more empowered because they can be understood and you are more able to help them because you can comprehend the situation.
Now how would it be if we applied this simple yet awesome process to ourselves and our young people before we/they get in a pickle? How would it be if we chose to apply this simple mind/body technique to everyday living? How much calmer would you, your students and your classroom be?
Introducing The Power Breath!
As already demonstrated, the breath is an extraordinary mechanism that we can consciously choose to control and steer, to manage all manner of challenges – the main one being balancing our ‘state’.
So how would you like to show up in your classroom? How would you like to manage a high-stress situation? How would you like to support a child that is sooooooooooo frustrated his/her behaviour is violent or dangerous?
Let’s start with your state.
Do you want to be in the right state to teach rather than be in a right state?! The Power Breath gives you a way of coping even when there’s chaos in the classroom.
So let’s understand The Power Breath. It is both a curative and preventative technique. It supports all 11 systems in your body; from your digestive system to your immune system helping tissues regenerate, detoxify, energise and heal.
Seventy percent of waste is eliminated through your lungs just by breathing! – The Lung Institute
Not only is your physiology supported but so too is your mind. Your mental observation and concentration improves which inevitably leads to greater productivity and learning opportunities for both teacher and student.
Not only is decision making easier, thinking becomes clearer, but you also are more likely to access a more compassionate and non-judgemental part of yourself. Now this is where it gets exciting. The value of The Power Breath is not only in self-regulation, but also develops opportunities for improved relationships, starting first and foremost with yourself.
When you breathe deeply, when you pause and take another breath, when you give yourself a moment to be fully present with your breath, you give yourself the opportunity to soften, mentally, emotionally and physically. The ‘armour’ you may have put up to protect yourself gently melts away. You have access to your heart and others have access too. This means you can communicate from a place of mindful awareness and more importantly from a place of kindness.
With practice, you can be mindfully self-compassionate and the best qualities imperative for being a great teacher, parent, friend – such as being patient, kind and non-judgemental, can shine through.
So how do we do it?
It’s easier to learn this lying down. This is how a baby breathes. Its tummy will rise and fall effortlessly. Simply lie on your back, place one hand on your chest, one on your tummy. Watch where you breathe from. Your chest is likely to move up and down. Now bring both hands to your tummy, fingertips touching. Breathe in slowly and deeply, let your tummy fill up (like a balloon), your fingertips will part. Gently release your breath slowly and your fingertips will return together. Keep the breath slow and measured. Repeat until you feel comfortable with the rhythm and your chest no longer rises.
Breathe in – tummy up (inflate the balloon)… Breathe out – tummy down (deflate the balloon)…. Let your arms rest wherever they want to and relax even more as you let your Power Breath ease you into deep relaxation.
The key to The Power Breath is to PRACTISE! The more you practise, the more you will develop a habit of supporting yourself through your breath. The breath is the gateway to peace. Practise makes permanent. When you practise, even for 3 minutes a day, you will notice the difference in your ability to access a calmer more serene self. Your internal landscape will soften and be less chaotic. Your Power Breath will help you bring that inner calm and apply it when your outer world is chaotic! If you practise as you climb into bed, your sleep will be deeper and more restful too.
The Power Breath is your gateway to personal power, to experiencing peace inside and living mindfully. Your Power Breath will bring you to NOW, so that your mind cannot scurry off into the future where the fear of ‘what if’ lurks or be sucked back into the past where thoughts of ‘should’ve and could’ve’ saps your joy.
Remember, the number one quality a child looks for in his or her teacher is that they are HAPPY! In order to be happy, you need to be in charge of your state. The Power Breath helps you choose; it helps you re-align and centre yourself, before, during and after class.
If you want to be the best version of yourself as a teacher, parent or friend, give yourself a chance by including The Power Breath in your daily routine. You wouldn’t forget to clean your teeth would you? Just as important as it is to have fresh breath when you’re teaching, so too is it vital that you’re happy and relaxed!
Give yourself a treat. Start your day with a Power Breath boost each morning. Perhaps you might like to teach your children and start the day with energetic food for your brain, body and heart. If you’d like to be a happier and kinder person, let The Power Breath be your guide.
Author: Kathryn Lovewell – Every Teacher Matters / The Teacher’s Sanctuary
Kathryn Lovewell is an award winning specialist in emotional resilience, promoting health and wellbeing in education. She has been teaching for over twenty years, predominantly in schools and prisons. Kathryn’s mission is to remind teachers they are amazing and to ensure that they are happy, healthy and mindful so that they can sustain their inspirational presence in the classroom long term without the risk of burnout.
She is the co-founder of The Teacher Sanctuary, an online wellbeing platform for teachers who value their wellbeing and wellbeing in schools. Her bestselling book Every Teacher Matters lays the foundations for Mindful Teaching and for creating conscious classrooms throughout the world.
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