Co-Regulating Breath with the Hoberman Sphere

What should you do when an agitated child refuses to do any breathwork or movement?

We often say, “you are the intervention”. In fact, we dedicated an entire blog post to the idea of practicing these techniques for our own self-regulation before even beginning to teach youth. But, what does that really look like in practice?

In co-regulation, the grounded adult provides the frequency to which the dysregulated youth can atune. This sounds simple, but in practice, can be quite challenging. Extreme behaviors in youth often trigger our own stress responses. This is expected and normal. However, it is at this point where we encourage the mindfulness practice to take over. Notice the child’s reaction with a non-judgemental lens, and choose another response from your toolkit.

mom and son back breathing

The Hoberman Sphere is the way we begin to teach Belly Breathing, our introductory breath. This tool and breathing strategy is a great resource for self-regulation. The idea is that this practice becomes so engrained that its response becomes second nature. It is important to note, that these strategies should first be introduced when the child is not agitated. Find the lesson plan in our Teachers Pay Teachers store.

young child with Hoberman Sphere

Licensed with Yoga Calm®

Let’s paint a scenario. A student enters the office in an extremely agitated state. He has “flipped his lid” and is not accessing his “thinking brain”. You offer releasing breaths or other strategies that you have practiced before, but nothing seems to be resonating. Instead, he is only becoming more agitated. At this point, you pick up the Hoberman Sphere off of your desk. You begin to do deep belly breathing, even counting the breaths along the way. By the time you get to ten breaths, you notice that the volume in the student’s voice has dropped and his body is starting to still. A this point, you could invite him to practicipate in the strategies again as you continue your deep breathing.

High school student with Hoberman Sphere at desk

In this scenario, not only does Belly Breathing keep you in a calm, relaxed, alert state, but it serves as a model for desired behavior. You, as the regulated adult, are simply holding space for however the youth is showing up. While creating mindful spaces through color and decor are important, the real work begins by creating the mindful space within yourself. It is this space that will set the tone and energy for the youth you serve.

On a personal note, I’d also like to share how this strategy plays out at home with my own children.

My three year old was just finishing his first week of preschool. Emotional and physical exhaustion were at a maximum. Right before bed, an epic tantrum erupted. I recognized that he had “flipped his lid” and was operating in his lower brain. No amount of talking was going to turn the ship around. I brought out the breathing ball and asked, “Should we do some breathing?” The response was a resounding “NO” as he pushed the ball away.

Mother co-regulating with three year old

At this point, I could have walked away, tried to persuade him into getting into bed or worse, forcefully put him into bed. However, I know the power of co-regulation. I brought out tools readily accessible in his bedroom, with which he was already familiar, the Hoberman Sphere and Essential Oils. Within three and half minutes I had completely redirected his behavior. To see the full video, visit our YouTube.

We’re not expected to be perfect. These strategies can be difficult to remember in times of turmoil and don’t always turn around each situation. However, knowing that these tools and strategies are available can make difficult situations seem much more manageable. The most powerful part of this work is sharing with youth, that our brains and bodies always have another chance to try again with a different response.

Have you ever had a successful co-regulation experience? What has worked well for you? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Trauma Responsive Practices

Mindfulness practices meet the needs of every body. Our trauma responsive approach is rooted in choice.

People sometimes ask: Is mindfulness suited for all children? What about children who have experienced trauma or have mental health needs?

Here is how the dictionary defines mindfulness:

Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Our Move Mindfully®  sessions allow present moment awareness to create a place where restoration and rest is possible.

Here is how mindfulness, and choice, are woven into each stage of a Move Mindfully session:

1. Breathing

breath work with move mindfully®

We always begin with simple breathwork, most commonly  belly breathing, to prepare to heart, mind and body.  Students act as leaders and choose number of breaths, usually between 5-10. Instructors can also offer releasing breathing techniques like pinwheel breathing. Bringing attention to breath is the best way to foster present moment awareness.

2. Movement

Movement for all bodiesOur instructors use the Move Mindfully® Card Deck to guide students through a variety of body positions. Introducing accessible movements first, like starting in a chair or seated is a great way to encourage all ability levels to join. Next, movements like forward folds and balancing positions help regulate the body and foster a sense of safety and stability. Offering variations for more challenging movements builds in the element of choice. For example, Eagle can be accessed on the floor (pictured), in a chair or using just arms. Through this process we are deliberately activating the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest functions, and preparing the body for the final relaxation/integration.  

 

3. Rest

After moving the body, relaxation integrates physical, emotional and cognitive experiences. However, this can be the hardest component of the practice. Stillness and quiet can be challenging, especially for students dealing with trauma. A relaxed state can look different for every body. We use sensory cues, such as hearing the sounds in the room or feeling the ground, to make being still and quite a bit more comfortable. Students can choose to leave eyes open, which may feel safer, and take in the visual stimuli.

We often start with progressive relaxation, tensing one part of the body at a time and then releasing it. This helps students experience relaxation while still feeling a sense of control and staying present. Also, offering different body positions (pictured) or various activities such as mindful eating, walking, music, art or storytelling can make the experience comfortable for everyone.

Choice in final rest

Transforming Trauma

Part of teaching through a trauma-informed lens means that instructors must be constantly watching/observing  how each student is responding to the practice. Mindfulness simply anchors us to the here and now. Youth can move out of past depression and the anxieties of the future. We help students find ways to connect these strategies outside of class and into their everyday lives. Learn more and go deeper with Kathy Flaminio and Lynea Gillen’s Transforming Childhood Trauma Online Course.

When working with youth that have experienced trauma, we emphasize that while we don’t always have control over what is happening around us, we do have choice in how we respond. This is why mindfulness instruction is important for all students. Choosing our response is where our freedom resides.

Have you had a positive experience with mindfulness and trauma responsive practices? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly and the 1000 Petals Team

Mindful Movement Begins Early

Move Mindfully® Works for Washington County’s Youngest Residents

This summer, over two dozen child care providers across Washington County learned ways to keep children in their daycare active and focused, from the hottest days of summer to the frigid days of winter. Last year, Living Healthy Washington County (LHWC) learned that many local child care providers were interested in expanding adult-led physical activity in their curriculum. To meet this need, LHWC partnered with 1000 Petals to offer child care providers the Move Mindfully® training.

Providers find Move Mindfully® easy to use
Child care providers were surveyed immediately after the training and the first reactions were very positive. All providers reported that the Move Mindfully® techniques they learned were practical, easy-to-use, and useful for responding to behavioral issues in child care. Additionally, all child care providers shared they were likely to try the Move Mindfully® practices in their child care setting.

Providers continued using Move Mindfully®
LHWC followed up with child care providers two months after the training to see how the mindful movement techniques were working. Seventeen providers responded to the survey, and all of them used Move Mindfully® techniques in their child care. Two months after the training, 95% of providers used the techniques each week and 35% of those were using the techniques daily. Providers were most frequently using calming breaths (94%), yoga poses (89%), and the Hoberman sphere (89%) with children in their daycare. All providers reported that Move Mindfully® techniques were either helpful or slightly helpful in fostering children’s self-regulation, smooth transitions, de-escalation, and focus. Most providers (82%) reported Move Mindfully® was easy-to-use in the child care setting and the remaining 18% of providers considered the techniques somewhat easy-to-use. Most providers reported no barriers to using Move Mindfully®. The techniques require no special space, and no or low-cost equipment. Several child care providers shared their enthusiasm about using the techniques:

“The techniques are easy to use and of great value to me in my child care setting and the kids respond well to it.”

“I really love using everything I have learned with Move Mindfully. [It] has really calmed my children in my care.”

“The children look forward to our breathing exercises and yoga. It has been a great tool to use in my child care.”

 

Providers recommend Move Mindfully® to their peers
More than one provider mentioned they found the training so valuable they would recommend all child care providers participate in a similar training. Child care providers now have the skills to integrate mindfulness into their day while increasing physical activity for Washington County’s youngest residents.

Originally published at livinghealthywc.org

Self Compassion

We all hear a lot about the importance of self-care.

It seems like everyone is talking about self-care. So much so that we might choose to stop listening. Self-care can feel like one more thing to do, or it can feel overly-indulgent, or it can feel inaccessible. Who has the time/money/energy for self-care when we are just trying to make it through our to-do list as it is? Compassion is different.

Kristin Neff, a leader in self-compassion research, makes a distinction between self-compassion and self-care. Self-compassion is based on the word compassion – which means “to suffer with” or to show concern for another person’s suffering. Self compassion means extending the same concern to ourselves that we easily give to others.

As Neff explains. “Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?”

Neff breaks self-compassion down into three elements:

  • Self-Kindness vs Self-Judgement
  • Common Humanity vs Isolation
  • Mindfulness vs Over-Identificaiton

The importance of self-compassion is simple. How can we take care of others if we don’t first take care of ourselves? We are less able to take care of others when we are depleted. Unmitigated stress can cause us to miss important cues about what students/youth are feeling, showing and telling us through their behavior and therefore lose important opportunities for connection and corregulation. 

Self-compassion is a gift we can give ourselves when our own depletion causes us to snap at loved ones or lose patience with the students or youth we work with in our educational and therapeutic environments. Practicing self-compassion is critical if we want to co-regulate with dysregulated youth.

Try these three simple practices based on Neff’s three elements for self-compassion:

1. Speak to yourself as you would a friend.

If your friend was struggling with the same stress, anxiety or self-doubt you are feeling, how would you encourage them? Imagine talking a friend through the challenges you face in this moment and gift yourself that same pep talk.

2. You are not alone

When things are difficult, try pausing and acknowledging that this moment is hard but you are not the only one facing challenges. So many people do hard things everyday. Try to feel less alone with this simple Loving Kindness visualization.

Get comfortable and breathe slowly. Take a moment to picture someone you love very much (or someone who loves you very much) and send them three wishes – May you be healthy, May you be happy, May you be peaceful. Next, still breathing slowly, picture yourself and send yourself these same three wishes – May I be healthy, May I be happy, May I be peaceful. Finally, breathing slowly, imagine extending these same three wishes to everyone you can imagine in the whole world – May they be healthy, May they be happy, May they be peaceful. Still breathing slowly, notice how you feel after this simple practice? More connected to the world around you? More supported? Always remember, you are not alone.

3. Use your breathing and movement to change how you feel.

Even when you are feeling discomfort in this moment, you don’t have to be stuck in it. Give yourself permission to feel discomfort in this moment knowing that this discomfort will pass. Ease discomfort when you need to by reminding yourself that you can change how you feel at any time by slowing down your breathing as you trace your hand; by stretching your body to energize or calm or by taking a walk.

Instead of feeling like we have just one more thing to add to our to-list, create a tool kit of simple breathing, mindfulness and movement strategies to practice as self-compassion first aid whenever you need it throughout the day.

Written By,

Chrissy Mignogna