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BREATH AWARENESS: An Unconventional Solution to Healing Society

Photo and YouTube Video Courtesy TEDxKelowna

Healing Pain with Breath Awareness - TEDxKelowna 2013 YouTube

Vernon Morning Star Article July 2013

Heidi Thompson has been practicing breath awareness for more than 30 years. After experiencing profound changes in her life, she was inspired to help others – especially children. In 1996, she pioneered a program called Mindmastery and was the first to introduce breath awareness in B.C. public schools. Wanting to share her knowledge with parents and teachers, Heidi wrote Calm Focus Joy: The Power of Breath Awareness – A Practical Guide for Adults and Children. Since its release, she has been invited to speak on internet TV and radio shows around the world.

Mary Jones, host of Talk of Connecticut, reported: "After interviewing Heidi Thompson on my CT radio show and being so impressed with her and her overall message, I decided I wanted her book, Calm, Focus, Joy to be the inspiration for my next Monthly Challenge, which I've done on my show for 6+ years. Her message is powerful, simple, effective, and needs to be spread!"

Heidi speaks passionately about the importance of breath awareness. She says, “There are many helpful therapies, meditations, and exercises that develop concentration, improve brain functions, reduce stress, and enhance health. Of all these approaches, breath awareness may provide one of the simplest and most effective. Breath awareness has been used for centuries and today, it is practiced by millions of people around the world. I believe that breath awareness holds the key to healing some of society’s most serious problems:

• WHO predicts that depression will rank first place in global diseases by 2030.

• Obesity is the fifth leading risk for global deaths.

• Cancer and heart disease rank number one in causes of death in Canada.

• Approximately five million Canadians engage in high-risk alcohol consumption.

• One in ten North America children (10 million) are diagnosed ADHD.

• There are approximately 100,000 cases of family violence report in Canada each year.

• Approximately 3500 suicides take place in Canada each year.

• One in five Canadians will suffer a mental illness in their lifetime.

Breath awareness may sound like an implausible, pie-in-the-sky solution to healing these conditions. Yet, we cannot deny statistics. Experts in all fields of neuroscience, psychology, and human behavior, confirm that meditation can prevent, relieve, and cure many illnesses. Countless studies prove that meditation promotes brain growth, reduces stress and anxiety, relieves depression, lowers blood pressure, prevents heart disease, heals ADHD, and helps with drug, alcohol, and gambling addictions.

Meditation also enhances learning. There are hundreds of studies that have found meditation improves cognition and behavior in school children. Reports show an increase in test scores, advanced thinking skills, improved memory, better comprehension, reduced bullying and aggression, improved ability to self-regulate, reduced stress, and a more positive attitude toward learning. In one of my Mindmastery programs, after only a few sessions of breath awareness, a 10-year old student wrote: 'Breath awareness helped me calm down. I can now focus on my work and listen to my teacher better.'

Most importantly, breath awareness and meditation cultivate peacefulness, perception, wisdom, and creativity. Meditation develops the very brain centers responsible for empathy, compassion, and selflessness. Inspiring and innovative people - Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, John Lennon, the Dalai Lama, Buddha, Jesus, Jim Carrey, and even our own Pierre Elliot Trudeau – meditated.

Society is facing serious, hard-to-solve problems. But maybe the solution is unbelievably simple. Maybe the solution lies in simply adding meditation to education. Maybe, if we help children develop their calmness, focus, compassion and wisdom, we will begin seeing a transformation.

Imagine a society where every child, from Kindergarten to university, practices breath awareness every day for ten minutes. Imagine how their attitudes and learning would improve. Imagine how the school environment would feel safer. Imagine children connecting with their inner intelligence and creativity. Imagine how insightful, confident, and healthy they would grow. This is not a dream. There are schools around the world that incorporate meditation curriculum with remarkable results. All we have to do is take the first step and experience the power of breath awareness, the power of meditation. Then, we will be ready to take the second step and teach our children. Within a decade, we would see a transformation in society’s health and happiness. Breath awareness is a simple, unconventional solution that may very well be the solution to heal us, our children, and our society.”


For more than 35 years, Heidi’s passion, talents, and creativity have manifested in different ways. She has worked as a professional photographer, visual artist, book illustrator, theater restaurant manager, school teacher, mother and wife. She has exhibited her art in Canada and the USA and is currently represented by galleries in San Diego and Montreal. In 1995, Heidi started a publishing company, Coldstream Books. Her second publication, Sveva Caetani – Recapitulation won the VanCity Book of Excellence Award. In 2001, the Caetani Foundation in Rome invited her to speak on Sveva Caetani. She has given public talks at the Vernon, Grand Forks, Kelowna, and Armstrong art galleries, the Vancouver Italian Cultural Center, and at the Dante Alighieri Academy in Toronto.

Heidi enjoys writing and has had several articles published. She wrote a dramatic screenplay based on Recapitulation, which was optioned by a Vancouver film producer. Recently, she wrote Calm Focus Joy.
Heidi has volunteered as a counselor at children’s Anapana (breath awareness) courses in the USA and Canada. While helping, she saw how young people enjoyed doing Anapana. Inspired, she pioneered a school program called Mindmastery, and taught breath awareness to children of all ages and abilities. In 1996, she became one of the first to introduce breath awareness into schools.

Mindmastery attracted the media and was featured on a CBC television educational documentary, Spilled Milk. In response to the media, Heidi received over 150 letters from parents, teachers and principals requesting information. She compiled her lessons, observations, testimonials, and techniques and wrote, Calm Focus Joy: The Power of Breath Awareness – A Practical Guide for Adults and Children. Calm Focus Joy offers a step-by-step learning guide that can be used by parents and teachers. It may provide the most comprehensive, contemporary and in-depth breath awareness learning and teaching manual available.

Heidi’s revolutionary approach to teaching children breath awareness has garnered praise from David Suzuki, Daniel Goleman, Jack Kornfield, and Deepak Chopra, who commended her Mindmastery Program with encouraging words: “I applaud your vision and commitment to children”. Book reviewer, Grady Harp noted: "The writing and the processes in Calm Focus Joy are so well done that this series of steps toward improvement are very accessible and successful. This book is a real contribution to adults, students, parents and to therapists and teachers."


• Swiss Diploma for Photography

• BFA – B.C. Open University

• B.C. Certified Teacher

• Artist, Author, Photographer, Publisher

• 30 years breath awareness experience

• Volunteer as a counselor at Anapana courses in Canada and the USA

• Created and taught Mindmastery - an attention development program for children

• One of the first to teach breath awareness in public schools in Canada.

• Owner of Coldstream Books and published several books, including Calm Focus Joy

• TEDx Speaker - "Breath Awareness: An Unconventional Solution to Healing" Kelowna 2013

• Conducts breath awareness, Mindmastery, and art workshops.

• Married with two children.

• Invited to appear or speak on over 40 live and Internet television and radio shows

Radio Interviews Links

Freedom for All Radio with Jim and Jennifer of 1000 Breaths

Loretta Green Warren Interviews Heidi Thompson on Breath Awareness

Mystical Cruise Radio Show with Robert Sharpe on Bite Radio

Rewiring your Brain - Interview with Dr. Rose

Living with Hope - The Mind Body and Spirit Network

Theory of Parenting - With Tammi Joyner

The Art of Breath Awareness - Inner Circle and Light Waves Radio

Breathing Can Calm You and Your Children - with Sara Towe - The Importance of U Radio Show

Interview swith Jim Burns - Bully Proof Classroom

Interview with Rev. Rachel Love - Rachel Love Show

Interview with Rodney Mathers - Journey of Hope Radio

Interview with Sara Towe

Interview with Mary O'Keefe - Hope, Healing and Wellbeing

Interview with Lilliam Brummet - Conscious Discussions Radio

Interview with Lisa Hurt - Simply Spiritual Solutions Radio

Interview with Eric M. Dye - Entrepreneur PodCast Network

Interview with Satari Green and Cezanna Trone - Quantum Creative Radio, UK

Interview with Holly Hurley and Jill Hindley on Crashing Glass Podcast

Interview with Johnny Tan - From My Mama's Kitchen Radio Show

Interview with Trudy Thomas - Living With Hope and Body Mind Spirit Network

Interview with Rick Busby - TalkRadioX

Interview with Dale Cross - "Intending Success" - LA Talk Radio

Interview with Wendy Adams and Tobias B. - Inner Circle Radio

Interview with Bernadine Feagins - Girlpower BlogTalk Radio Show

Interview with Timothy Jacquet - Apple Capitol Group

Interview with Sandi Schwarz - Leading Edge Parenting