edited version of a chat from March 8, 2010

Sandra Dodd: When I did a workshop last fall I had a list of things to read during shallow breathing, so I though maybe you could help me make a list for today. I gave those notes away in San Diego.

Sandra Dodd: It was stuff like

Sandra Dodd: That's dumb

Sandra Dodd: This sucks.

Sandra Dodd: Two-beat phrases.

Sandra Dodd: I'm mad

Sandra Dodd: life's hard

Jenny: Chamille says breathing doesn't help, but the last time she was upset and crying and I hugged her, I could feel her breathing calming down and when she broke away from the hug, it was right after a huge intake of breath and release

Sandra Dodd: People are Stupid.

Sandra Dodd: And I had about 20 of those.

Sandra Dodd: I'll make a list on paper. I'm liking having paper next to the computer these days.

Jenny: why did they say things like that?

Alex: Gigi will say to me: Let's take a deep breath!

Jill P: what are those words/that list for? things that make people hold their breath?

Libby: my son has aspergers so breathing is very hard to do around here

Sandra Dodd: I said those things during shallow breathing, short, shallow breaths so everyone in the room could get cranky

Sandra Dodd: Libby, YOU could breathe.

Jill P: Why would someone having aspeberger's make breathing hard for others?

Libby: my son has a hard time breathing when he is angry

Jill P: don't we all.

Libby: he often throws punches and bites and has a hard time communicating his feeling

Alex: than you do it so you can be as calm, peaceful and present as possible

Libby: so when he has a tantrum like that it is so hard to calm him down and just breath

Jill P: Like Sandra said, you breathe. it helps.

Alex: How do you handle it
Do you keep your calm?

Libby: easier said than done but yes when i stay calm he doesn't escalate
: normally do keep my calm
but sometimes i do not

Sandra Dodd: Then we can help you get and stay calmer, maybe.

Rebecca Allen:When Quinn is having an explosive moment or two, it's hard to talk with her or reason with her, but as she naturally begins to calm down THEN I've talked to her about breathing.

Jill P: Jenny, when Addi is like what you describe Camille above. When I hold her, I know she can feel my breathing, and I feel her start to calm.

Alex: than you take a deep breath if you can't keep calm

Rebecca Allen:Now she sometimes talks about breathing when she is getting upset.

Libby: do you tell a child the way they are acting is wrong?

Jenny: Isn't that interesting Jill? I intentionally breath calmer and send it her way during a long hug

Sandra Dodd: Depends if it's wrong.

Libby: well the hitting and screaming

Jill P: Same here, Jenny.

Sandra Dodd: Parents can go too far toward saying behavior is wrong, and they can go too far toward accepting any and all behavior.

Libby: he likes to tell everyone he hates them
or his big saying is "i cant take it anymore"

Jenny: so when Chamille says breathing doesn't help, I just say to myself, sure ok if you say so and then help her breath. I figure one day she'll realize she's been doing it all along

Sandra Dodd: Does he "like" that? Or are people really bugging him and he hasn't been assisted to find another thing to say or do?

Libby: im usually the person bugging him
or his dad

Sandra Dodd: Jenny, if one of my kids said "Breathing doesn't help" I'd probably say "prove it" or "then stop breathing"--partly for humor, and partly because it DOES help. 🙂

Sandra Dodd: Well that's easy, Libby. Stop bugging him!

Libby: haha

Jill P: So Libby, you can do two things....stop bugging him, and start breathing.

Alex: Sometimes when Gigi is mad she likes to say she hates me. I ignore that and just connect and stay calm. Once she calms down she says she loves me.

Jill P: I love clears my mind, calms me down, makes my muscles work better....

Libby: but me being alive bugs him
if i look at him in a away he does not like it bugs him

Jill P: Sandra, can you tell more of your breathing workshop.

Alex: Does he say that when he is calm, Libby?

Libby: yes

Alex: have you asked why?
is it because you bug him all the time?

Libby: yes and he won't answer

Natalijoi: I'm a non-breather. 🙂
I have a bad temper, I don't mean to, it's been a really all my life struggle

Sandra Dodd: Natalijoi, I can go a whole day without one single really deep calming breath!

Sandra Dodd: How old is he

Libby: he is 5. I have an 11 year old son who has Asperger's

Natalijoi: me too, Sandra, I just forget to stop

Jill P: Really, Sandra? what are you like on those days?

Sandra Dodd: First I made people mad with words and breaths; then I helped them calm down. Then I made them mad without breaths and then I helped them calm down (they already knew how)

Sandra Dodd: Jill... just busy and I forget.
It's the bad days when I remember. The "good" or neutral days, sometimes I just forget.

Sandra Dodd: Natalijoi, you don't have to stop to breathe.

Libby: i think i need to take a chill pill honestly

Sandra Dodd: I'm about to give you a chill pill,

Natalijoi: he has mostly been unschooled, but for 3 months of kindergarten, and unschooling has allowed him to "grow out" of a lot of his issues

Libby: good

Sandra Dodd: You guys want to do one?

Natalijoi: yes!

Sandra Dodd: put your hands in your laps or somewhere. I want to be the only one typing.
It's okay if someone else comes in.

And don't breathe deeply.
Keep your breath mostly in your throat, just barely in and barely out, and about a second long.
I'll try to post these as fast as you can breathe in and out, just in a little, out a little, just enough to stay alive. 🙂

Sandra Dodd: Now breathe out not in.
WAY out.
Way out and when you're empty huff a little more out
like an empty sack
and then fill it up,
one deep breath as big as you can
and hold it and top it off with one more huff in.

Jill P: Gah, that gave me a headache, ish.

Sandra Dodd: then let that out slowly
all out
huff it out
in, slower, top it off, wait
out, slower, huff out the last of it, wait

Sandra Dodd: So Jill got a gah headacheish.
Anyone else get any effects?
If you didn't do it now, maybe try it later.

Libby: im spinning
and laffing

Sandra Dodd: Make up your own list of short negative little "defamations"

Natalijoi: yeah, sort of dizzy and giggly

Sandra Dodd: it's EASY to get pissed off and stay pissed off.

Schuyler: Linnaea and I did it, I felt a difference

Sandra Dodd: But the good news is that it's easy to get calm and stay calm!

Sandra Dodd: But the good news is that it's easy to get calm and stay calm!

Schuyler: Linnaea said she felt a bit of a difference

Rebecca Allen: Quinn is putting her hands on my tummy and telling me to breathe!

Sandra Dodd: The end. The workshop is finished.

Schuyler: There may have been a bit of lag...

Libby: im gonna do this with my kids

Darcel: I can barely breathe as it is, but that's because I'm pregnant :) I'll have to try that one later

Sandra Dodd: On the breathing, if you can do ten of them, by the tenth the breaths will probably be almost twice as long as the first long breath.

Sandra Dodd: Pregnant ladies do better on their backs

Jill P: lol, Darcel, I remember that.

Sandra Dodd: knees up, maybe

Natalijoi: I watched a Penn and Teller about anger management last week, they had a researcher on that talked about the "venting" therapy perpetuating anger and violence

Sandra Dodd: I've read that lately too, Natalijoi. In the 60's and 70's there was therapy involving screaming and beating pillows and fighting with foam bats and stuff.

Libby: so say im getting angry at one of my kids (probably for something not worth getting mad about) should i just walk away and do this breathing?

Natalijoi: like, punching a pillow makes you more angry, and so, I've been thinking a lot about how *not* to vent, because that's what I usually do!

Natalijoi: yes, Libby!

Sandra Dodd: But it seems much better to let the adrenaline go than to build it up and let it go in a violent way that at the very least will hurt your throat.

Sandra Dodd: Libby, you don't need to walk away.

Natalijoi: right

Sandra Dodd: Just let your breath out, and don't breath back in right away, empty out.
You can't talk without any air in you.
That will seem like five seconds, if you're full of adrenaline. But it will be one second or less.

Natalijoi: 🙂

Sandra Dodd: Then your body will naturally fill back up, whether you want it to or not.
And the breath you breathe in will be all new oxygen. Not that dirty used adrenaline cloud you had built up before that.

Rebecca Allen: I think that scream therapy was more about releasing that built up anger from trauma or earlier life, rather than venting about everyday gripes and staying grumpy.

Sandra Dodd: John Lennon wrote all about it, and screamed on albums I bought. 🙂
(scream therapy, I mean)

Natalijoi: the experiment was, they pissed people off, and then gave half a pillow to punch, and half just sat there

Sandra Dodd: It was about getting mad and accepting anger. Expressing anger. And feeling good about expressing anger. (And in John Lennon's case, making another million dollars off of people paying to hear him express his anger.)

Sandra Dodd: So the adrenaline will start to dissipate (or whatever all biochemicals being frustrated and angry have built up in you; many of them aren't even really named or identified yet, I hear—brain chemistry is something our grandkids will know way more about than experts even know now).

SusanMay15: I was feeling really overwhelmed the other day and I just sat on the couch with my head in my hands and breathed for a few minutes with my eyes closed

Sandra Dodd: It might not totally dissipate in one breath; it might take three.

Natalijoi: the half that punched the pillow had higher blood pressure, bigger, louder, more negative responses, and then there was a fill in the blank work sheet, and the pillow punchers wrote violent awful things

SusanMay15: Marisol asked what I was doing and I said resting... she accepted that, and in a very short time I felt much better and able to focus on her and her brother

Sandra Dodd: That's cool, Natalijoi!!
But the decisions I make as a mom after one deep breath are better than if I decide while I'm pissed. And after two breaths, better still.

Libby: ive been doing a lot of crying and wondering what i am doing wrong

Jill P: ((afk for a few, need to help Luke....breath))

Sandra Dodd: One thing I said in the workshop in San Diego was that probably there were a LOT of people in prison for life who wouldn't be if they had known they could let all their breath out, breath back in, hold it...
And there are parents who swat their kids, or yell at them, or tell them something the kid might remember for life, when they could have breathed out, huffed out the rest, breathed in a deep breath...
Maybe you could time yourself sometime about how long breaths are when you're angry. And that has to do with heartbeat, too.

Libby: i have been that parent and want to change

Sandra Dodd: In the mid 1960's in Time or Newsweek there was an article about Yogis in India who could slow down their own heartbeat.

Libby: but i feel like ive done so much damage that i cant move on and be a better person
it seems impossible

Sandra Dodd: Letters came back the next week, and an editorial that said that it was NONsense, that everyone knew that heartbeat was an involuntary bodily function. Because in school, we were made to learn voluntary and involuntary functions.
But because of those terms, people thought it was all or nothing. That if one's body could do that during sleep or in a coma, that they had NO control over it at all.

Natalijoi: Sandra, what do you think about past trauma and anger? I think that I have all kinds of unsettling stuff that creeps up on me when I'm upset or overwhelmed
sometimes I feel like anger is an involuntary function!

Libby: same here natalijoi

Sandra Dodd: So that was funny, that in India it was simple everyday knowledge, and in the U.S. people were saying it was a damned lie.

Chris: I remember learning that in school and being confused when I heard otherwise, but I knew I could affect my heartrate.

Sandra Dodd: Natalijoi, each parent needs to clean up her own childhood unhappiness.

Robin: We can even change our brain waves, not just our breathing.

Sandra Dodd: Either self-help, personal work or therapy, but unless you can get yourself whole, how can your child have a whole and healthy mom? If each time the unsettling stuff comes up you untangle just a little bit of it, it will be a little more untangled.

Robin: And brain waves can affect our breathing, too. And vice versa.

Chris: Libby, the way to move on is to start being a better person—the very next opportunity you have

Sandra Dodd: Libby, Chris is right. Each moment is a new moment. This is important:

Natalijoi: I agree about the past, but we all ( my family) are still grieving the death of a child in our home a year ago, and I think that's a big part of the short temper virus

Sandra Dodd: this might help you feel better too:

Sandra Dodd: It might make you laugh. It probably won't make you cry.

Sandra Dodd: Natalijoi, you still have choices each moment.

Rebecca Allen: When I start thinking terrible things like "impossible," I try to catch myself and simply not believe my thoughts. Start questioning whether they are true.

Sandra Dodd: Not because I say so, not because of unschooling, but because that's the reality of life.

Sandra Dodd: If you have a child left after one child died, you have more reason to recover from the grief or at least schedule it to only part of the time.

Darcel: Living by the moment has made my life a whole lot better. I know it's better for my kids

Alex: Schuyler once told me to just make a choice. To choose to do or not do something anymore.

Sandra Dodd: There's evidence for beliefs about not grieving for more than a year, in traditional literature in England.

Alex: I did it and now all I have to do is take a deep breath and voila! No more crazy mom!

Robin: I have wallowed in my own misery over things I did once upon a time, but it never helps me be better now. I make that choice. Like the difference between talk therapy (where you can go over and over something, wearing into your neural pathways) vs. cognitive therapy where you are helped to make changes.

Natalijoi: well, he was a family friend, and I feel like there are still things to help my kids with, that I haven't even identified yet

Sandra Dodd: One was that babies in Heaven had to carry a bowl, with the tears being shed for them on earth. If the bowl was full, they had to hold it carefully. If the bowl was empty, the child could run and play.

Natalijoi: aww, I like that

Sandra Dodd: One is that if people are grieving, after a year, the ghost needs them to stop so he can rest. One ballad about dead children has the children come and say to the mother "Every tear that you do shed, it wets our winding sheet."

Natalijoi: those are so good!

Robin: I think of my parents saying to me "Get on with your life. It's what we prepared you for. We're fine."

Sandra Dodd: Robin, your parents are dead, or living?

Robin: My mum died in Dec. 2007, my dad in July 2008.

Sandra Dodd: My dad met Keith once. He didn't like him, because I was leaving my husband for Keith. My dad liked the husband. I didn't tell my dad any of the bad stuff about Jimbo, the first guy. My dad was dying. Figured I would spare him. But I think about my dad a lot, and he would be proud of me and that helps me feel good sometimes.

Natalijoi: I'm working on the changes, Robin. I think I'm a little overwhelmed, because there aren't many changes, just a few really *big* ones

Sandra Dodd: What changes are you working on, Natalijoi?

Robin: Yeah. I think of that, too. How they would be so proud of Michelle, too.

Natalijoi: we've been unschoolers always, or mostly always, but I've always felt, because of poverty, and lots of transitions, that I needed to kind of demand, like, teeth brushing, and good eating,

Natalijoi: and I can just tend to be bossy and short, without meaning or wanting to be
we are all kind of jaded and sassy
and we are all talking alot about how we treat each other

Robin: Did you feel you needed to demand teeth brushing and good eating so attention wasn't drawn to your kids, Natalijoi?

Natalijoi: yes, and also because we have no dental, and I share custody, up until 3 months ago, of my 7 year old.
and, because I just worry about their health, but we, and *I* are doing much better with the food thing

Robin: Ah. I see. There are lots of ways to encourage without demanding. There are ways to let a child know the reasons behind any "requirement" and to help them.

Libby: all those things on the how to screw up unschool im basically doing
i feel like an ass admitting that
the way i am acting is just not me and i think that is what is frustrating because i dont want to be that super legalistic person

Sandra Dodd: jaded and sassy, Natalijoi, are poison.

Natalijoi: I know it

Sandra Dodd: And as to teeth and health, carrots and apples. Raw. Often.

Robin: Cheddar cheese, too.

Alex: yes hard cheese and xylitol

Jenny: my kids have each been to the dentist at least 2 times in their lives

Sandra Dodd:Libby, you don't need to admit it. 🙂 And feeling like an ass is probably good, but you don't need to tell us. Maybe print that out and try to do the opposite of all of them every day!

Natalijoi: we just completely eliminated a friendship with a boy who was a lifetime friend, because he is *so* mean and nasty, it's abusive, he has an unparenting parent, and I just don't want it!

Sandra Dodd: Chewing gum can help with keeping teeth clean, too.

Alex: xylitol gums!

Robin: Or xylitol mints.

Natalijoi:Ryan is a bubblegum freak!!!

Alex: or

Natalijoi: he reeeeeally loves bubblegum
we chew the peelu stuff, too,

Alex: those gums used 5 times a day are garanteed to not let any new cavities develop

Sandra Dodd: You guys want another round of breathing?

Chris: we brushed our teeth with Zoe for a long time -- she liked company when she brushed (or we let her brush our teeth and we brushed hers at the same time.)

Libby: yes my kids are right here and i want them to do it too, if they want to

Rebecca Allen: has xylitol lollipops and hard candies

Robin: Let's breathe!

Sandra Dodd: I have another thing to do this time.

Alex: Great rebecca I will check those!

Sandra Dodd: You guys do ten shallow wimpy little worthless breaths and then when I start typing again (assuming you all stop typing for a little while here)
I'll put in positive statements for you to breathe in to. So When I start typing again, do the huff out and hold, then breathe in thinking of whatever I put up there
and then hold it and breathe out.

Sandra Dodd: Go. Ten shallow get-pissed-off breaths.

[NOTE TO READERS OF THE TRANSCRIPT: If you're going to to do this, start breathing slowly and deeply in and out on each of the several next positive messages:]