Soothing Balloon Breathing

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:

  1. Tune into your natural breathing pattern, if you’re overwhelmed extend your exhales.
  2. Close your eyes and visualize a balloon in front of you that fills with your breath. As you exhale, watch it float away.
  3. As thoughts and stressors come to mind, let each thought or stressor become a label on the balloon.  
  4. As you inflate/inhale the balloon you acknowledge the stress.
  5. 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

Sara’s Story:

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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