My name is Hannah. I am 19 years old and in my sophomore year of college. My brother, Daniel, is 15 years old and in his freshman year of high school. According to our mom, Conscious Discipline Master Instructor Elizabeth Montero-Cefalo, we have become quite famous in the Conscious Discipline community because of a S.T.A.R. breathing video taken over a decade ago.
In the original video, we are in the backseat of our car on the way to school. We would frequently practice our Conscious Discipline breathing techniques before school. This everyday practice was critical for our learning and would send us off with a positive start to our day. I am now realizing how this practice also helped my mom in her day.
The core breathing technique we demonstrate in the video is S.T.A.R. breathing: Smile, Take a deep breath And Relax. Repeating this process three times helps us move from a Survival State or Emotional State (which, at the time, we called feeling “Bombaloo*”) to our Executive State. Our four-year age difference is evident as we demonstrate the breathing technique in our own unique ways.
The second video was filmed very recently. We are both teenagers and demonstrate the S.T.A.R. in almost the exact same way. Looking back, it’s interesting to compare the ways we communicate with each other and can explain this breathing technique at a deeper level. Using hand motions is very common for young children learning these techniques, but we don’t use motions much anymore. In fact, we don’t even verbalize the S.T.A.R. steps anymore, we only did so for demonstration purposes. At 19 and 15-years-old, we have both internalized this process and it has become a natural habit for us.
From a very young age, Daniel and I have been practicing many of the Conscious Discipline rituals and strategies, the most popular one being S.T.A.R. breathing. When we first made the video, we were around two and six years old. To be honest, I don’t quite remember shooting it. Interestingly enough, when we went to reshoot the video, all of the memories came right back. They have been a subconscious part of our whole lives. We realized we use S.T.A.R breathing all the time. When we feel frustrated or disappointed, we take a minute to S.T.A.R. to shift from upset to calm. The three deep breaths shut off the fight or flight system of the brain and are an extraordinary part of maintaining emotional health. This core breathing technique is essential for teaching children to take a second to calm down, and necessary for teens and adults who often forget to stop and breathe. It’s not the only step for emotional well-being, but it is a crucial first step in the process.
Additionally, we have found that all of the Conscious Discipline teachings we received as kids have shaped us into the people we are today. Knowing how to identify and deal with feelings plays a key part during our adolescence and will continue to positively affect us into our adult years. By taking in these techniques and breathing routines, people of all ages can learn to handle their emotions and cope with the stressors of everyday life. So always remember to Smile, Take a deep breath And most importantly, RELAX.
*”Bombaloo” is from the book Sometimes I’m Bombaloo by Rachel Vail.