Self-help guru Deepak Chopra’s daughter, Mallika, began meditating at age 9. In Just Breathe, she introduces mindful meditation practices to a younger audience. She discusses stress, how stress affects the body, and how meditation can help in her introduction; she ends her introduction with a baseline meditation; something to allow readers to create a “safe, happy place” inside them. Other practices in the book build on this base. Divided into subsequent sections on breathing, moving, being silent, noticing, asking, and creating, she leads readers through breathing and meditation exercises that help reduce stress and anxiety, cope with pain, and get them moving. There are sections on walking meditations, and on yoga, with each breathing exercise lasting anywhere fromn one to five minutes (the introductory exercise is the longest at 15 minutes, but she emphasizes that even one minute of meditation can greatly help).
The artwork is calming, featuring kids of all colors and genders in various stages of mindfulness, from yoga to walking to laying down. The muted colors and gentle expressions add to the calm, meditative feel of the text. Chopra provides prompts for thought throughout the book, which could be really helpful in a guided session where a reader can gently prompt meditative thoughts. Chopra encourages face-to-face interaction and disconnecting from devices, even for a little while; she also brings attention to our inner voices, the power of journaling, and the joy that comes with creativity. She applies these lessons to everyday stressors kids encounter, including bullying or test jitters, providing solid context.
Just Breathe is a solid introduction to mindfulness and meditative practices for kids. I’m looking forward to adding it to my yoga collection, and want to see how a meditation program for school-age kids will go over at my library. I miss my yoga storytime!