Three Breaths

The singing bowl and the five-minute timer. Heart, hand, settle. Breathe.

The singing bowl and the five-minute timer. Heart, hand, settle. Breathe.

He chooses "Thorny Devil" breathing. A thorny devil is a lizard native to Australia, but what do I know about it? Nothing. I ask if it is covered in spiky thorns and wondered if it rolls in a ball. I just need a couple clues so that I can figure out how a thorny devil can take a deep in-breath and exhale slowly, to then fill the lungs again. Three times.

Picking the "three-breath" is one of the children's tasks each day. The "three-breath" marks the beginning of a settled breathing and silence for five minutes in the Tracks (the 4/5s). The Leaves (the 3/4s) also do this, but their silence is just a minute. It's a child's job to pick the breath and I think about how the whatever-they-pick breathes.

We build valuable connections in this short exchange. Me with the child doing the imagining and choosing. Each person's choice is accepted and through the response, the child's choice is given value by all those gathered. The other children make connections with each other as they join together in common purpose -- to breathe. 

The stillness and silence last just five minutes and no, the children are not all still and meditative, but they are mostly. We know that there is value in silence, time spent with oneself, in a group, in a space that will moments later be filled to brimming with loud voices rushing in play.

So I breathe like I imagine a thorny devil would breathe. One of the breath-chooser's friends tells me I am doing it wrong and I am, I am sure of it too. And that is part of the whole routine because I can be wrong and sometimes I can also be right. But choosing something and watching how I respond is a big part of the story. The parents record the breath request in our class journals. Princess, Train, Dinosaur, Mermaid, Horse, and Fairy breathing are carefully written in the journal along with the name of the person doing the choosing.

The time is well-spent, these moments of connection followed by semi-silence and semi-stillness. Then we let the stillness go. Burst up and out of our places on the carpet, voices flood the room, but for three deep breaths, we were in it together.