In a figure 8 breathing meditation, your child will visualize their breath in the pattern of the number 8, or the infinity symbol. This practice increases lung efficiency, calms the nervous system, and offers a way to focus a busy or wandering mind.
Parents often tell us when they use any of our guided meditation scripts that include numbers or counting, their kids fall asleep before the meditation ends.
This guided figure 8 breath meditation is copyrighted by ShambalaKids and may only be used for in-person or live virtual reading. It may not be recorded for audio/video.
And speaking of sleep, a 2021 study found that elementary school kids who practiced some form of mindfulness slept an average of 74 extra minutes a night.
If you’d like to explain mindfulness to your little one, here’s an easy definition:
Mindfulness is simply being present and paying attention to whatever it is you’re feeling, doing, or experiencing in this very moment. It’s when we put our whole attention and focus on just one thing or one moment.
Mindful breathing exercises offer physical health benefits, too.
Diaphragmatic or deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is part of the peripheral nervous system responsible for regulating heartbeat, blood flow, breathing, and digestion. Deep breathing helps you avoid the fight or flight response to stressful situations. Any type of deep breathing exercise can be effective for relieving anxiety.
Just by leading this type of breathing exercise, you’re offering one of the simplest and most powerful mindfulness tools available. You’re teaching them how to use the breath to stay in the present moment. It’s every bit as powerful as yoga for kids and it offers them a way to regulate their nervous system.
Before you begin this figure 8 breathing exercise, help your child find a cozy spot. A cozy, safe bedroom is the ideal place since they’ll likely fall asleep. But a comfy spot on the couch works just as well.
Simply read this script in a calm voice at an even pace. Watch your child’s cues and pause when you feel it is appropriate or they need more time. As you describe the figure 8, do so very slowly. If you read it too quickly, your child might feel like they don’t have time to pay attention to the breath movement.
Figure 8 Breathing Meditation
Let’s quiet our minds and settle in to get comfortable now. You can lie down flat or sit upright. When you feel comfy, close your eyes, and take in a deep breath. Then let it out slowly.
As you breathe out, let go of any worrisome thoughts. Breathe in peace and calm deep into your belly. Let that peace expand out to every place inside and around you.
As you breathe in and breathe out, feel the peace travel to your entire mind and body. Feel it reach the top of your head and flow down to the very tips of your toes. Feel the calm as if it’s in the very air around you.
Pay close attention to how each breath feels as it flows gently into your lungs and all around your body. Notice how it feels as it flows out with each exhale. Feel the cool air being carried in again through your nose and flow down your throat and how it feels as it makes your belly rise.
Now, we will simply relax here in this moment and focus on something called the mindful breath.
Imagine there’s a big number 8 that gently aligns with your entire body. The middle of the eight meets at your belly button.
(Read this part slowly so your child follows the movement of the breath)
So, as you inhale, feel the breath flow up through your head and down the back of your throat and down your spine and back. Feel how it crosses from your lower back, heading toward your belly button, down through the tops of your legs and knees to your toes.
And as you breathe out, that breath flows to the back of your feet, traveling up your calves and back of thighs and crossing at your belly button level again, back up to the front of your chest and flowing back up to your head.
See the figure eight as best as you can. Any way you see it is perfectly okay.
(Slowly) Breathe in.
Notice the pause in between the breaths. Can you let go of any stress or anxiety here?
Breathe in (pause).
Notice the circular feeling between the in and the out breath cycles.
Feel the flow, the power of your breath.
Let your belly rise fully.
You can imagine this as slowly or as quickly as you like. But make sure you can see the breath flow in the figure eight pattern in your entire body. It’s okay if it takes more than one breath to do this.
The more you practice, you might be able to feel the full pattern in just one in and out breath. Imagine the breath as energy – creating a beautiful colorful flow throughout your body.
There is power in our breath, especially when we direct it with intention. We can use the figure eight visualization whenever we need to refocus ourselves, clear our mind, or replenish our energy and clarity.
This is the magic that is contained within our breath. You can do this whenever you like.
Now, let’s take one more big belly breath in and out.
You’ve done an amazing job. Open your eyes when you’re ready.
Find another deep breathing exercise here. Or to get 50+ more guided meditations for kids, subscribe below to get access to our full library of PDF resources.