Calm Focus Joy - The Power of Breath Awareness

Breath Awareness (Anapana) is an ancient technique which involves objectively observing the breath, body sensations and the mind's lack of focus and reactive nature. Practicing Breath Awareness, even for short periods of time, can enhance brain function, stimulate higher thinking, strengthen attention, diminish harmful habits and curb reactive impulses. Through daily practice ones mind becomes stronger and this naturally leads to enjoying a more peaceful, productive and happy life. In school, children are taught to focus on external subjects and are often given little time and instruction on how to develop their mental powers. As an instructor or counsellor, guiding your student in the art of breath awareness will be a useful tool. Whenever you find the is child filled with fear, lack of focus and anger you can put the talk aside, and for a few mintues practice breath awareness. You will see how quickly this will help the child calm down feel better about themselves. They will acquire a tool that they can use to cope with emotions, stress and self-doubt. This experiential workshop will involve practicing breath awareness so you can experience the benefits (and challenge) for yourself. 

Target Audience


To Bring/Important Notes

NOTE: Reviewing the workshop schedule and the posted instructions for Breath Awareness will be helpful introduction before we begin. I look forward to sharing this amazing tool for calming and focusing the mind and how it can help children!

The 1.5 hour Breath Awareness workshop will include hands on learning. You will be working on the technique first for 5 minutes, then for a longer stretch. During these session you will be calmly observing the breath, its sensations and how you can direct your attention to either your thoughts or your sensations. 

For maximum benefit I recommend that you wear comfortable clothing and ensure your room is quiet. During the session you can shut off video. If you need to take a break, you can simply walk away and return. I will be giving instructions, so it is best to keep my sound on. 

Only through experiencing the difficulties and rewards of practicing the technique will you understand how it works. I will keep talk down to a minimum. Once you experience how breath awareness can focus and calm your mind, you will feel confident sharing the technique with students. 

I have posted breath awareness instructions, which you may like to read before we start. They also serve as a reminder how to practice after the workshop is over. If you would like a pdf of my book, Calm Focus Joy - The Power of Breath Awareness please email It presents a 10 step "Mindmastery" program that you can use in the classroom or with individual children. I will send you the file n/c. 

We will have question periods after each phase of the workshop. Here is the schedule: 

10am: Introduction - Why do Breath Awareness (10 min)

Breath Awareness Technique Instructions (5 min)

Practice with some verbal instructions (5 -10 min)

Questions (5 min)

Instructions (5 min)

Silent Long Practice Session (25 min)

Questions (5 minutes)

How to use Breath Awareness to help students in public schools (10 min)

Questions (5 min)

Final Practice session (2 min)

11:20 Summary


10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

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  • Heidi Thompson

    Heidi Thompson grew up in Vernon British Columbia, Canada, In the 1970’s she travelled to Switzerland and studied photography for four years. Later she studied painting in Germany and Hungary. During her nine-year European stay, she became interested in meditation, psychology, and philosophy and began to investigate various meditation techniques and spiritual traditions. When Thompson returned to Canada, she worked as a photographer, book publisher, teacher, and painter. Thompson’s continuing interest in meditation led her to attending a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat taught by S.N. Goenka where she was introduced to the focusing-technique called Anapana, or breath awareness.


    Artist and teacher, Heidi Thompson has been practicing breath awareness for thirty years after having first learned the technique at a ten-day Vipassana meditation retreat. Over the years, she attended many more ten-day retreats, which deepened her understanding and experience of breath awareness. Thompson also worked as a counselor at breath awareness programs for children (Anapana Courses) in the USA and Canada and became involved in creating learning materials for these programs.


    After experiencing profound transformation in her own life from practicing breath awareness, such as improved focus, health, relationships, and mental, emotional, and physical health, Thompson was motivated to develop an attention-development program to teach breath awareness to children. For several years, she taught her program which was called Advanced Attention Development (AAD) or the Mindmastery Program to children with significant positive outcomes. Thompson became one of the first to introduce breath awareness into public schools in Vernon and Vancouver British Columbia.


    Mindmastery attracted media attention and was featured in an educational documentary film on CBC television program, Spilled Milk. Thompson received over 150 letters from parents, principals, counselors, psychologists, teachers, doctors, and childcare professionals wanting to learn how to do breath awareness or teach it to children. In response to the inquiries, Thompson compiled her program instructions, teaching strategies, stories, and lesson plans into a practical manual that eventually evolved into her recently published book, Calm Focus Joy: The Power of Breath Awareness - A Practical Guide for Adults and Children (ISBN 9780969814740, Coldstream Books, 2012).


    Calm Focus Joy offers a comprehensive, easy-to-follow, teaching guide that adults can use to learn breath awareness and then teach it to children. Heidi Thompson currently lives in Vernon. British Columbia. She is married to Edward Thompson, a guitar maker and they have two children. Thompson works part time as a teacher and spends most of her time painting, exhibiting her artwork, and conducting Mindmastery workshops.