Big City Mayor Mandates Breathing in School System

The Mayor of New York City has recently mandated a few minutes of breathing for children throughout the city school system. I do think it was a step in the right direction. I’ve heard all kinds of responses, for example “we have much bigger problems we need to focus on” , or “ children are just going to laugh and make funny noises to distract each other”.  That may well be true. But it does shine a light on something pretty miraculous for each of us, young and old, the power of what our bodies can do to help us feel better.

When I had begun to have chronic pain, I was 19 years old. It was after a series of illnesses, and stress events in my life. After a few years, going down many rabbit trails I discovered my breathing. I say it in this way because most of us think we have to “make” ourselves breathe. Of course, we are breathing. I discovered how I was breathing. You can do it yourself right now in this moment. Don’t try to fix your breathing, just take notice of a few things:

  • Where do you feel it in your body?
  • Are there any muscles involved?
  • Does it change after a few breaths in some way?

Noticing, observing is easier than how most people engage with their body. When you observe, you give your body a chance to respond.  Those responses will begin to make life a lot easier on you. We tend to prevent natural responses as we age because our bodies become creatures of habits, or the way we have trained them.


Don’t be surprised if the question sounds odd to you, or if you feel very little. That was my observation. I thought I wasn’t breathing. The muscles around the rib cage for most of us, can be like a tight ace bandage. They don’t really allow much air to come in and out. Although forcing yourself to breathe is an option, once you stop with the forcing, your muscles will probably prevent the breath again from moving freely throughout your body.

Like most of us, the stress I had experienced made the muscles around my chest tight, and breathing was minimal. I didn’t know this, I just lived with the effects of poor breathing. My muscles were chronically tight, my energy was very low, and I had difficulty moving without pain in many areas of my body. I was diagnosed with a lot of different things at that time. Sometimes the simple solutions seem just not big enough for such big problems. Breathing is not small; it affects everything about the way you feel.

Giving this gift to school children is a great start. Will it solve all of our problems, no. But maybe it can help us with how we respond to our problems in the future. Its worth the experiment, for all of us.

Enjoy. Don’t take it too seriously, think of it as an experiment, baby steps. Your body will give you the feedback. You don’t have to do all the work. It knows how to breathe.