Breathing Fingers: A Mindfulness Exercise for Students

Being a teacher is tough. You bring together 10, 20, sometimes 30 humans into a classroom and are expected to teach them valuable lessons and watch out for them. What makes this especially tricky is that each of these human beings each come with their own personalities, their own abilities, their own stories and experiences, their own traumas, their own perceptions of the world.

This could be a recipe for chaos!

What do you do when your room of students is high energy and chaotic? How do you bring them down to earth so they can be present in the moment?

I like to use the Breathing Fingers Mindfulness Practice (a technique added onto the Slow Breath Practice©.) Not only will it bring your students to the present moment, but it will also teach them how to tame their thoughts and regulate their emotions.

The present moment is where it’s at! The life that we live is lived right now. And now. And now. And now. It’s always now.

And when we’re in sync with now, we align ourselves with life. But we are often lost in thoughts about the past or the future.

In this Breathing Fingers mindfulness practice, you focus your attention on your breath aided by combining different finger movements while you inhale and exhale. Intentionally bringing awareness by connecting to our body grounds us in the present moment: where life is.

We’ll add this technique to the Slow Breath Practice.

For the Slow Breath Practice, get comfortable in a chair with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for 2, and breathe out to a count of 5. Making the outbreath longer than the inbreath sends our body the message that all is well. We do this 4 times. And repeat if desired.

Here’s the Breathing Fingers addition:

With each new breath, we move our fingers using both hands.

Place your hands palm up on your legs. Begin by connecting your thumbs to your index fingers. Hold them for the first breath.

Then connect your thumb to your middle finger. Hold for the second breath.

Move your thumb to your ring finger. Hold for the third breath.

Finally, move your thumb to your pinkie and hold for the fourth breath.

This may be enough to calm your group or class (or yourself!). Feel free to repeat as much as feels right.

I love using this technique with my students. It gives them something to do while we’re getting in sync with their breath. When they open their eyes, they somehow seem wiser and definitely more present.

This is the perfect introduction to mindfulness meditation!


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