The soothing balloon breath is something that came to me in my meditation practice, and I've since heard similar versions. It’s a SARA original so while there isn’t any research on how effective it is, I can tell you from personal experience it’s one of my favorites- but of course, it is- I invented it!
It uses the imagery of a balloon inflating and floating away and is done in synchronization with the breath. You also have the option to do it as a freestanding visualization untied to the breath- find what feels best for you.
To do the soothing balloon breath:
- Tune into your natural breathing pattern, if you’re overwhelmed extend your exhales.
- Close your eyes and visualize a balloon in front of you that fills with your breath. As you exhale, watch it float away.
- As thoughts and stressors come to mind, let each thought or stressor become a label on the balloon.
- As you inflate/inhale the balloon you acknowledge the stress.
- As you exhale/release the balloon, you let it float away.
*If you find yourself wanting to take several breaths to fill and release the balloon, go for it!)
Repeat as many times as necessary, I suggest using a timer for this one as time tends to warp once you get into it.
If you like this tool, check out the other ones in the sensory grounding series: box breathing, 4-2-6, and 5-4-3-2-1
This came to me as my interpretation of guided breathing I was doing one day. I found myself distracted by the monkey mind, racing thoughts, and anxious feelings. I was getting increasingly upset as these thoughts kept coming back. Even though I knew it wouldn’t make them go away forever, I started to put a one-word summary of each invasive thought on the balloon, and I’d let myself release it.
Sometimes the same thoughts would come back, and I’d label and release another balloon. I know it doesn't make the thoughts or feelings go away or suddenly resolve, but the gesture of acknowledging and releasing is powerful, especially when done with conscious breathing.
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