VIDEO: Mindful Breathing with Dr. Daniel J. Siegel

In this short clip, world-renowned neuropsychiatrist and bestselling author Dr. Daniel J. Siegel shares his quick breathing awareness exercise to calm the hectic, stressful and worrisome mindset and create a more pleasant, cooperative environment.

In this short clip, world-renowned neuropsychiatrist and bestselling author Dr. Daniel J. Siegel shares his quick breathing awareness exercise to calm the hectic, stressful and worrisome mindset and create a more pleasant, cooperative environment.

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4 Easy Steps to Calm a Stressed Child

If you work with children who struggle with self-regulation, mind-body strategies that use yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and guided imagery can be especially effective, and often fun, for the child to gain their composure. Use this activity, called The Steps, at home, in the grocery store, or wherever life takes you.

It’s no secret that children need help learning how to self-regulate when they’re feeling distress or are upset, especially children with ADHD, autism or sensory disorders.

If you work with children who struggle with self-regulation, mind-body strategies that use yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and guided imagery can be especially effective, and often fun, for the child to gain their composure. We really love these techniques because they’re easy to teach and the families you work with can use them at home, in the grocery store, or wherever life takes them.

Use this activity, called The Steps, from our new My Calm Place card deck.

  1. Ask the child to put their head on stacked fists.
  2. Visualize walking down 20 steps.
  3. With each step, inhale and exhale.
  4. Rest at the last step and breathe for 10 counts.

Download a FREE copy of The Steps

My Calm Place has over 50 strategies to work through stressful moments and prevent them in the future. These easy practices can be an effective, creative and fun way to find emotional balance whenever kids are extra squirmy, have trouble keeping focus, or need a few minutes to settle their mind.


Barbara Neiman, OTR, is an Integrative Occupational Therapist, Yoga Teacher 200RYT in Embodyoga®, a coach for professionals seeking a holistic practice and a National Seminar Presenter. She founded her company, Health Discovery, to provide services for infants through school age children. As a Certified Practitioner of Body Mind Centering® since 1989, Barbara has taught experiential hands on, movement, and meditation classes. She offers training to schools and businesses on applying yogic interventions to classrooms and corporate settings to reduce stress, improve focus and self-acceptance.

Sheila Lewis writes curriculum for national organizations, has designed over 60 badge programs for Girl Scouts USA, tutors, and runs book clubs for middle grade students, using whole brain strategies. On the faculty of JCC Manhattan since 2005, she teaches meditation classes, creativity and writing workshops. She is the co-author of Stress-proofing Your Child. As the mother of two grown sons, one on the autism spectrum, she has been a parent advocate on various committees.

Mindfulness + Doodling = The Secret to Staying Focused & Present

Research has proven that doodling can enhance focusing skills, increase retention of information, ease feelings of impatience, and even inspire bursts of novel ideas. So go ahead – color outside the lines with these 5 FREE doodle exercises.

Are you embarrassed by your notepad filled with doodles as you leave a meeting or get off the phone? Don’t be! You have the secret to finding focus and staying present.

Doodling is usually viewed as a time-wasting activity or as a response to daydreaming. But it’s time to give doodling the respect it deserves! Research has proven that doodling can enhance focusing skills, increase retention of information, ease feelings of impatience, and even inspire bursts of novel ideas. Combined with the therapeutic benefits of mindfulness, doodling can be especially calming and can help one engage in the present moment.

Dr. Patricia Isis brings mindfulness and doodling together in her new book, The Mindful Doodle Book: 75 Creative Exercises to Help You Live in the Moment. Filled with doodle prompts and mindfulness activities, you can ease anxiety, envision your dreams and aspirations, and express your feelings in a fun, flexible and creative way.

Go ahead, color outside the lines. Experience mindful doodling now with these five free exercises from The Mindful Doodle Book!

Download My 5 Free Doodle Exercises


Patricia Isis holds a Ph.D. in the expressive therapies with an emphasis in art therapy. Dr. Isis is a licensed mental health counselor in Florida and a registered board certified art therapist, credentialed supervisor and a trained Mindful Self-Compassion teacher. Patricia provides art psychotherapy in the public schools, maintains a private practice, and conducts Mindful Self-Compassion and mindfulness trainings.


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5 Postures to Help Deepen Your Breath

In this short video, psychotherapist, award-winning author and former Buddhist monk, Donald Altman, demonstrates 5 postures to help deepen your breath.

We are all born belly breathers, but as stress sets in, we quickly begin to take shallow chest breaths. But deep abdominal breathing, where air fully fills your lungs and your lower belly rises, has many benefits including slowing your heart rate, reducing blood pressure and relieving stress.

In this short video, psychotherapist, award-winning author and former Buddhist monk, Donald Altman, demonstrates 5 postures to help deepen your breath.


Donald Altman, MA, LPC, is a teacher and adjunct faculty at Portland State University. He is also a faculty member of the Interpersonal Neurobiology program at Portland State University and teaches various classes blending mindfulness and Interpersonal Neurobiology.


Sign up for a FREE CE video: One Minute Mindfulness featuring Donald Altman, M.A., LPC.

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MBSR-T Interventions: Pleasant Life Moments & Events Calendar

In this video, Gina Biegel, creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Teens (MBSR-T), shares her Pleasant Life Moments and Pleasant Events Calendar interventions. They are powerful teen-focused mindfulness practices that draw awareness to the many positive moments and activities in daily life.

It’s a high-stress life for teens today. The demands of friends and social life, school, work and family can easily become overwhelming for adolescents. But thanks to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work with MBSR, we know that there are substantial physical and mental health benefits from mindfulness practices.

Gina Biegel, MA, LMFT, has tailored the MBSR program to meet the specific needs of teens. In MBSR-T, she uses language, references and stories that are relevant to today’s adolescents to help them shift their perspective to become more aware of their intentions, attention and attitude.

“It’s important for teens to learn not to categorize their day as all bad or all good, but rather filled with many different moments,” says Biegel. “I find teens need something tangible, a list of things that they engage in that they consider self-care. It gives them a visual of things they can turn to that make them feel good or they enjoy instead of negative coping skills/behavior.”

Watch this short video to learn how Gina Biegel uses Pleasant Life Moments in her work with teens, then download the worksheets below to incorporate the technique into your practice.


Download the worksheets to incorporate into your practice today!


This blog is based on the work of PESI speaker Gina M. Biegel, LMFT. Gina is a San Francisco Bay Area based psychotherapist, researcher and author specializing in bringing mindfulness-based work with adolescents. She is the founder of Stressed Teens, which has offered the MBSR-T to adolescents, families, schools, professionals and the community for over 12 years.

She is the author of the Stress Reduction Workbook for Teens: Mindfulness Skills to Help You Deal with Stress and the Be Mindful Card Deck for Teens.

Before You Scroll, Try This Mindful Social Media Practice

We’re all self-critical—but for teens, self-consciousness is hardwired. Here’s how to become aware of the emotions we’re courting on social media.

How many times a day do you check into your social feeds? How many times do you hit refresh in one visit? Our need to be social can backfire on social media, when we accidentally activate the comparing mind, which is a source of much unhappiness. Of course, this can happen offline, too. But the toll looms larger online, with of all those perfectly curated images of people’s lives inviting us to compare our insides to other people’s projection of their outsides.

For teens and tweens, who are actually hardwired for self-consciousness, the constant comparing and curating, which used to end with the final bell of the school day, when kids could go home and put on their sweatpants, is a twenty-four-hour-a-day job. Socializing and social comparison begins first thing in the morning and ends last thing at night. Predictably, psychology research consistently shows that social media is making kids unhappier and more narcissistic.

The sheer volume and instant nature of digital media means that when we log in, we are drinking from a fire hose of emotional stimulus. We can be anywhere in the world and be met by friends’ posts that trigger joy, resentment, sadness, laughter, grief, jealousy, and more—all within moments. None of us, adults or children, are wired to take in that much emotional content at once without reacting.

Research also reveals that social rewards and punishments feel the same online and off. If someone interacts with us in a positive way online, we get the same neurochemical rewards in our brain as we would in person. When we (or our children) are rejected or ignored online, we get the same feeling of rejection as we would in person. More interestingly, the sense of emotional attack activates the same part of the brain as physical attack does. Emotional pain is just as painful, just as real, as physical pain, whether it comes from the virtual world or not.

None of us, adults or children, are wired to take in that much emotional content at once without reacting.

So, can we teach ourselves, and the young people around us, to approach social media feeds with mindfulness, even occasionally?

Mindful Social Media

Yes, social media is contributing to a new era of adolescent (and adult) social stress, but when we accept that it is here to stay, we can also see it as a new opportunity for connection and mindfulness, if we build it. Mindfulness tells us there is insight to be found in anything when we approach it with mindfulness, and that even includes social media.

Try this social media mindfulness practice to explore what your favorite sites are communicating to your subconscious:

  1. Find a comfortable, alert, and ready posture. Shrug your shoulders, take a few breaths, and bring awareness to your physical and emotional state in this particular moment.
  2. Now open your computer or click on your phone.
  3. Before you open up your favorite social media site, consider your intentions and expectations. As you focus on the icon, notice what experiences you have in your mind and body.
  4. Why are you about to check this site? What are you hoping to see or not see? How are you going to respond to different kinds of updates you encounter? By checking your social media, are you interested in connecting or in disconnecting and distracting?
  5. Close your eyes and focus on your emotional state for three breaths before you begin to engage.
  6. Opening your eyes now, look at the first status update or photo, and then sit back and close your eyes again.
  7. Notice your response—your emotion. Is it excitement? Boredom? Jealousy? Regret? Fear? How do you experience this emotion in the mind and body? What’s the urge—to read on, to click a response, to share yourself, or something else?
  8. Wait a breath or two for the sensations and emotions to fade, or focus on your breath, body, or surrounding sounds.
  9. Try this practice with one social media update, or for three or five minutes, depending on your time and your practice.

Noticing how social media makes you feel can help you discover how to use it more mindfully. As you become more aware of the emotions you’re actually inviting into your day when you visit social media sites, you’ll be able to make better decisions about how often to visit those sites.

And, keep in mind, the science of social media is more complex than we might think. For example, research shows that the more we look at others’ carefully curated social media status, the worse we tend to feel. But, the opposite is also true: if we look back at our own updates, we often see the positive aspects of our life presented and tend to feel better. So consider scrolling through your own updates sometimes, as you look at everyone else’s.

Technology does not define us, despite social media trying to put us into categories and reduce us to a series of likes and interests. Examining and changing our own relationship to technology opens the door for us teach through example and to practice new ways of making technology foster community and wellness.


This article was adapted from Dr. Christopher Willard’s upcoming book Growing Up Mindful, available June 2016. You can pre-order your copy today.


Christopher Willard, PsyD, is a psychologist and educational consultant based in Boston specializing in mindfulness for adolescents and young adults. He has been practicing meditation for over fifteen years. He currently serves on the board of directors at the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy and the Mindfulness in Education Network. Dr. Willard has published five books on contemplative practice, including the forthcoming, Growing Up Mindful. He teaches at Harvard Medical School and Lesley University.

Instant Focus Booster: A mindful way to build resilience

Because coffee works best in moderation, you may need another way to shake, rattle, and roll those brain cells awake. Here is an all-natural way to boost your energy and mental focus through breathing.

This blog is based on the writing of Donald Altman, M.A., LPC. You can read more in Donald’s book, 101 Mindful Ways to Build Resilience.


There are going to be times during the day when you feel sluggish and lack energy or concentration. Because coffee works best in moderation, you may need another way to shake, rattle, and roll those brain cells awake. Here is an all-natural way to boost your energy and mental focus through breathing. By using this focus boosting practice, you will improve your concentration abilities and feel more awake in just one minute’s time.

— How —

  1. With your fingers clasped together, place your hands firmly under your chin. Coordinating with your breath, you will slowly “flap” your arms up and down like butterfly wings.
  2. Inhale deeply on the count of four as you raise your elbows (butterfly wings) upward. Let your chin and head tilt back and upwards as the wings reach their apex. If you feel lightheaded you may be taking too deep a breath. Remember, you don’t need to fill up your lungs all the way.
  3. Hold your breath for the count of four.
  4. Exhale slowly for a count of six as you gradually lower your butterfly wings all the way down. Make sure you let out all the air.
  5. Take an additional three or four more focus-boosting butterfly breaths to build up energy.

— When —

Use this focus boosting practice anytime during the day when you feel low in energy, sluggish, or are having a hard time focusing and concentrating on a task.


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Donald Altman is a psychotherapist, award-winning writer, former Buddhist monk, teacher and adjunct faculty at Portland State University. He is also a faculty member of the Interpersonal Neurobiology program at Portland State University and teaches various classes blending mindfulness and Interpersonal Neurobiology.