Critical training to better protect, support, and heal vulnerable children

Translated in Rohingya



series: emotional wellbeing of children by Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, Richard P. Brown, MD
& Somiari Demm, MA/M.Div, CYT, CTS


Dr. Patricia Gerbarg: Sky and Earth is a fun practice for kids and the way we've adapted it for them is that we instruct as we go along, that they are making a movement where they reach upward and gather the stars as they breathe in and then as they breathe out, they bring the stars down and spread them on the earth. Then they breathe in, they gather all the flowers from the earth and they bring them up to the stars, and then they breathe out and they bring them down.

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Now, this has a number of very positive effects. One of them is that it's a way of slowing their breathing down because we're training them to breathe in slowly and breathe out slowly -- in a way that's fun.

When you get children to slow their breathing down, what happens is there's a shift in their nervous system. It shifts them away from feeling fearful and defensive towards feeling safer and relaxed and calm, so simply slowing the breathing down in that way, we're already beginning to move them in the right direction to help them with that.

Also what we're doing is we're making the energy in their bodies flow and we're connecting upward and downward and upward and downward because when you're traumatized and defensive, you tend to be closed in and in a kind of a clutch. Everything is shut down, the muscles are tense. We want to expand. We want to get them to open up, open their chests and inhale and breathe it all out and open and inhale. So again, we're breaking up the pattern of defense and we're bringing them back to a place of opening up and feeling freer with their energy flowing.

Samier: So let's get our feet about shoulder width apart. Perfect. We're going to bend our knees a little bit and then our arms are going to go up, just float them gently up. And notice my palms are facing my face.

We're going to take a few deep breaths here. Becoming like a statue. That's aware of everything, protecting everyone.

And you're going to breathe in two three, four

And we're going to breathe out two, three, four.

And we're going to breathe in, we're going to straighten out our knees, palms to the sky, collect a bunch of the stars.

And breathing out we're to bring them down in front of us (flat back hinging from our hips) sending the stars into the earth.

We're going to breathe in, and we're going to capture a big bundle of flowers. Bring it up in front of us, sending them into the sky.

And we're going to breath out, collecting a bunch of stars and bringing them down into the earth.

And we're going to breath in, taking the flowers to the sky.

And we're going to bring the stars bringing them to the ground.

There you go. Good job. Breathing in, and coming up with lots of flowers. See them: different, beautiful flowers, bringing them up into the sky.

And, breathing out, we're going to take those stars and bring them into the earth.

And breathing up (inhale sound);

Breathing out (exhale sound)

Breathing in... As we do this now, use your amazing imagination. Breathing out, imagine a core of white light from the base of your spine to the top of your head. And each time you go up and down, mixing the stars and the flowers. That core of white light gets brighter and brighter and brighter until we are glowing inside.

Your tummy, your chest, your throat, neck and head, now beaming with bright light. (And breathing out, and in).

You guys are doing so great. And breathing out, and breathing in.

So let's come up and rest a little here. Being very still inside, knees bent a little bit.

And just breathe in -- two, three, four

Breathe out, two, three, four

Breathe in two, three, four, and breathe out.

We're going to bring our ball of energy down in front of our tummy...and we can get a little bit more comfortable with our feet shoulder width.

So, we've got our energy ball now right in front of our tummy. Can you feel the ball in your hands? We can now start moving it in figure-eights. Can you feel something warn and tingly in your hand. Good! That's exactly what you're supposed to feel.

You know how to make a figure-eight shape? There we go. Smoothly and gently. Our hands are warm and tingly because they just played with the stars and the sun and now you have all that energy in your hands.

Nice, gentle movements. If you want, you can do circles. Circles are very cool, right? And you can go the other way if you want; feel the energy ball between your hands.

And sometimes you can move the energy ball like this:

There you go. Feel the ball and the energy moving through your body as you do this. Nice job! There you go. Hold the energy like a ball in your hand. Feel the energy flowing through your body.

And if you want, you let the ball play with you! Let the ball take you where it wants to go. So, oh there it goes! Let me capture it again! Let it take you where it wants to go. Just play with it ...Oh it's come back here. Wherever the ball wants to take you. Let it take you there /

Good job! And now we're going to bring it back again. Feel the changes in our fingers and our hands. Can you feel a tingling, buzzing feeling in your hands?

We're going to take that energy and we're going to put it in our tummy. Feel it going inside, going in through our bodies, making them warm, light, strong and happy.

And we're going to relax. Let your arms fall to your side. Once again, close your eyes if you wish. How do you feel? What do you feel in your body? What are your thoughts like? What does your breath feel like? What's its rhythm?

After each cycle of activity, we go inside and we rest just to feel what's happening inside of our body. It's like our bodies whisper to us what it needs and we need to listen to it sometimes; and take a break and just listen.

You can open your eyes now. Do you guys feel a little bit of magic inside of you right now?


Dr. Patricia Gerbarg

Patricia L. Gerbarg, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor in Psychiatry, New York Medical College. Dr. Gerbarg has lectured and taught about a wide range of topics in psychiatry, psychoanalysis, women’s issues, trauma, neurobiology, natural treatments (herbs, nutrients), and the integration...

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of mind-body practices in psychotherapy for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Meetings and many other conferences, academic centers, and community organizations.She serves on the APA Caucus on Complementary and Integrative Psychiatry and is a board member of the American Botanical Council.

Dr. Gerbarg practices Integrative Psychiatry, combining standard and complementary treatments. Her research focuses on mind-body practices for reducing the effects of stress and trauma, particularly in survivors of mass disasters, including the Southeast Asia Tsunami, 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, war in Sudan, Gulf Horizon Oil Spill, veterans, and stress-related medical illnesses.


Dr. Richard P. Brown

Dr. Richard P. Brown is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons where he obtained his medical degree 1977. The recipient of numerous awards, he has authored over 100 scientific articles,...

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books, and book chapters on pharmacological treatments, clinical studies, and complementary and integrative treatments in psychiatry.

Dr. Brown developed a comprehensive neurophysiological theory of the effects of breathing exercises on the mind and body, particularly its benefits in anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Dr. Brown gives over 100 lectures and courses every year. Since 1998, he has taught full-day courses on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as well as Mind-Body trainings for the American Psychiatric Association, other national and international conferences, veterans, and community service programs.


Somiari Demm, MA/M.Div, CYT, CTS

Somiari is a certified trauma specialist, a certified yoga teacher, and a certified breath body and mind teacher. Her areas of concentration include children and adolescents, trauma, mindfulness, and spirituality. She is a passionate scholar-practitioner in the...

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field of clinical psychology who has divided her time betweenclinical practice, training, workshops, and consulting. As a mental health practitioner, she uses mindfulness cognitive behavioral therapy (MCBT) and other evidence-based practices to help adolescent and adult clients with a wide range of emotional, and behavioral issues.

Somiari has received extensive training in the treatment of addiction, mental illnesses, affect regulation, and trauma. In her consulting work, she has provided bullying, violence, and trauma training for elementary and residential schools. In addition to clinical practice, for 3 years she worked as a consultant counseling Chibok girls that escaped Boko Haram.Somiari has been interviewed by 60-Minutes, CNN, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, BBC, and Aljareeza.

As a trauma thriver, her life experiences have fostered her love of, and dedication to the mental health field. Following the words of Gandhi, she believes that “purity of life is the highest and truest art.” Somiari also believes she is here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. Through her work, she is enriching the world through love, healing, and peace