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Box Breathing

By Cultures Of Dignity | May 3, 2023

Navy SEAL Box Breathing

Many studies on mindfulness and meditation are about how concentrating on our breath can help alleviate stress and anxiety, we know this and teachers have added mindfulness practices into their schools and classrooms. While there are a lot of great reasons for mindfulness to be integrated into the school day, it can become a concept that feels overdone or a word that feels watered down.

At Cultures of Dignity we consider words or phrases that have value, but because adults use them too often, young people start to take them less seriously or stop listening when they hear them.

If you find that your students get increasingly frustrated with the idea of mindfulness, try to reframe it.

If you have never tried mindfulness in the classroom, start simple. Box breathing is a technique used by Navy SEALs and other high-stress professions. Explaining a real-world connection to this type of breathing helps young people understand the practical application of what you ask them to do. So often they don’t see the connection between what they learn in school and how it applies “in the real world”. Geometry might be an easier sell if new drivers think of it in terms of parallel parking!

Letting your students know that Navy SEALs and other military or high-stress jobs use this type of breathing may help with buy-in. And we all know, with young people, buy-in is half the battle.

Box breathing is simple to remember and can be done without anyone knowing you are doing it. You simply breathe in for a four count, hold for a four count, breathe out for a four count, and hold for a four count. Do that as often as you need to start feeling some relief from your stress. Teaching this technique in class can be quick. It is an easy concept to teach and integrate into the day. If you start to feel resistance or see eyerolls don’t make it a whole class activity. Once you have taught it, the kids that need it will use it. You may start to see some of them subtly doing it before an assessment or before lunch or any time things could feel overwhelming. Research has shown that mindfulness is valuable for all of us. That doesn’t mean all of us will appreciate or do it, but again, the people who need it will use it.

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