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Kindergarteners Teach Us A Thing Or Two About Mindfulness In ‘Just Breathe’ Short Film

in YD News


Kids say the darndest things, and most of the time, they’re brutally honest. This short film called “Just Breathe” features a bunch of kindergarteners sharing their thoughts on what it feels like to be angry and mad and why it kind of stinks to feel that way sometimes. “You sometimes punch stuff and people when you don’t really mean it.” “When I get angry I feel it in my heart.”

One kinderkid likens an angry mind to the glitter in a jar when it’s all shaken up and there’s no room for clear thinking. (Mind Jars are pretty brilliant by the way – here’s a how-to.) Another discusses what goes on in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex – which is pretty sophisticated stuff for little kids. Our kindergarten selves would have thought Amygdala was some sort of Power Rangers villain.

The kids then school us on how to take a moment, take some deep breaths, refocus, recenter, and let the glitter settle. And it makes our little hearts swell with pride. We don’t even know these kids and we’re feeling all…


The 4-minute film comes from a husband and wife filmmaker duo, Julie Bayer Salzman and Josh Salzman, whose son was learning about mindfulness in school. After hearing her son talk to his young friend about the effects of emotions on our brain and our bodies, she decided to enroll in a six-week course with Mindful Schools, an organization that teaches mindfulness in US schools. Upon completing the course, Julie was inspired to capture what the youngins had to say about it, because, after all, kids are often our best teachers.

Julia explains via the film’s description:

We made “Just Breathe” with our son, his classmates and their family members one Saturday afternoon. The film is entirely unscripted – what the kids say is based purely on their own neuro-scientific understanding of difficult emotions, and how they cope through breathing and meditation. They, in turn, are teaching us all …

And they probably didn’t even need Elmo’s help.

According to data from the National Health Statistics Reports, there’s an increasing number of kids practicing yoga and meditation in the U.S. and the practices are really catching on in the academic setting. We’ve seen how in-school yoga and mindfulness programs can empower kids and provide tools that will not only help them but also those who care for them.

“Just Breathe” recently aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network’s Super Soul Sunday program, April 12th, after Oprah’s interview with the mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn who is a fan.

[Via Mindful.org]



11 comments… add one
  • Beautiful insight. It inspires many spiritual journey. http://www.bellofpeace.org

  • What I love most about this video is that these children are expressing what most of us as adults don’t remember how to articulate. They are so aware of their bodies that they can explain how they feel in their own skin when they are experiencing an emotion. Isn’t this the skill we “try” to teach yoga students? Feel your body, notice what’s going on and find your breath! Out of the mouths of babs comes profound wisdom!

    • So true, Keya. These children are so in tune with what they feel. I absolutely love the glitter in the jar analogy. When that glitter settles down to the bottom of the jar is what a deep breath feels like to me.

  • So eloquent. Thank you Salzmans and these families for helping us see how to create a more peaceful, sparkly world.

  • love this simple reminder. i teach children and am always reminded how universal our feelings are. they want to express themselves and they want the tools to be able to control their feelings and reactions. the only thing we CAN control is the breath. they are SO responsive to that….

  • I’m concerned that this sends the message that anytime that we experience strong, challenging feelings (such as anger), that we need to get rid of it as quickly as possible. I know that’s not the point, but, these are young children, and they’re dealing with complex information, issues, and feelings. Most likely that most want to please the adults that they care about in their lives. Most of them are likely too young to grasp complex ideas about how the brain works and how, when, and why we should prioritize getting rid of any anger we may feel as quickly as possible. Anger can be an important way of telling us that something is wrong and that we need to create boundaries. It can also be a response to injustice. I think that it’s excellent to teach kids how to deal with anger in nonviolent ways. But I don’t see it as something that should be immediately snuffed out in all cases. It is an issue of managing it rather than eliminating it, a subtle but important distinction, in my view.

    • paul

      i hear that distinction being made in the video; the last words are, “..then i’m ready to speak to that person.” stuffing or snuffing is not a good idea, for sure, and i think those are the opposite of making efforts to recognize ones own mind/emotion, and the outcomes of these various states.

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