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Lions Roar : September 2016
hear the sound. Then I ask them to open their eyes and share their experience. It’s fun to watch them recognize their ability to tune into the world around them and to notice the rising and falling of each moment. In their daily lives, sound is an excellent way for them to come back to themselves if they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, or they just need a moment to pause. Breath Breathing is something that happens to us on its own. So I always tell young students that breathing is nature’s way of say- ing that we belong here. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be doing it! In classes that I teach in schools, I use the breath as a tradi- tional mindful anchor. I encourage the students to use tonal breathing in the first few breaths: taking deep breaths and let- ting out a big ahhhh the first two or three times, then bringing their attention to their breathing as they let it happen naturally. I ask them to close their eyes and either rest a hand on their belly or simply tune into the rising and falling of their breath wherever it’s most apparent to them, whether it’s their chest, stomach, nose, or mouth. They rest their attention there and notice how the chest and belly expand and contract with each in- and out-breath. If their minds wander, they can gently return to the breath. Many of our students report feeling much calmer and more alert after doing this practice. “Finger Breathing” In this exercise, the students hold out their left hand and, with their right pointer finger, trace around each left-hand finger. Each time they trace upward, they breathe in; each time they trace downward, they breathe out. By the time they’ve done the whole left hand they’ve taken five focused breaths, then they trace in reverse to make it ten. This is something they can prac- tice discreetly by putting their left hands on their laps and trac- ing and breathing at any point during the day when they need to focus, come back to the moment, or relax. I always close by telling students, “You are enough.” In a world that tells us otherwise, mindfulness shows us very clearly that we have the tools to take control of our happiness and help create happiness for others. ♦ BORN I MUSIC (Ofosu Jones-Quartey) is an Insight Meditation and mindfulness teacher, a recording artist, and a father of four. He lives with his family in the Washington, D.C., area. Ofosu Jones-Quartey, known also as the rapper and musical artist Born I Music, has taught meditation to toddlers, young adults, and all ages in between. Here he leads the proceedings at a family meditation retreat at the Insight Meditation Community of Washington. PHOTO:SKIPBROWNPHOTOGRAPHY LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2016 55