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How to Shift Your Health and Wellness Mindset by Honoring your Own Well-being Daily

breathwork educator well-being self-care social emotional learning Jun 23, 2023
teacher practicing health and wellness

Do you prioritize health as an empowered educator?

Enjoy this transcript of what was covered when our Founder, Dr. Katie Raher, had a chat with Jen Rafferty on the Take Notes Podcast, all about How to Shift Your Health and Wellness Mindset by Honoring your Own Well-being Daily.

If you prefer to listen in to the podcast episode instead of reading, and enjoy a super short breathwork practice toward the end, head here

Jen Rafferty:

Hello, and welcome back to another fabulous episode of Take Notes. I'm here with the fantastic Katie Raher, and I am so excited to share this conversation with you today. She and I met through another person who I was actually doing a podcast with, and it was just very serendipitous, and we were able to chat. Our missions we're super aligned. The work we do is so aligned, and I couldn't wait to have her on the podcast.

Katie is the founder and CEO of Constant Love and Learning, an award-winning teacher turns school psychologist, a certified trauma-informed breathwork facilitator, and a Kimochis® Certified Trainer, which we'll definitely be talking about. Dr. Raher helps soul-led educators and changemakers cultivate their well-being and social-emotional learning within themselves, the children they serve and their larger systems so they can expand and sustain their impact while living their best lives.

Hi Katie!

Katie Raher:
Hello Jen. I'm so glad to be on the podcast.

Jen Rafferty:
Yes, I'm so glad you're here. Yes, welcome, welcome. So I would love for you to share how did you come to do the work that you're doing right now? I mean, we all kind of are traveling on this path of being a teacher and like figuring ourselves out and you decided to take some different turns. So I'd love for you to share that journey with us.

Katie Raher:
Yeah, absolutely. Because if you had told me 10, 20 years ago that I'd be doing this work, I would've laughed and totally thought you were out of your mind. And so, you know, now here I am leading work focused on wellbeing, really centering that as the key piece of being able to affect change in children's lives. And as part of that, not only do I lead others, but a big part of that is me also honoring my own well-being on a regular basis. And it wasn't always this way.

So historically I was more of the poster child for self-neglect, pushing through everything, putting yourself last, don't even add yourself to the list. I was the person who when people took breaks or set boundaries, I was like, “Oh my gosh, they're so lazy.” That was me. I was the person who said that. And so it's, I've come full circle here, like it's very different, very different.

So how did I get to this point? I started my career in education as a teacher, very dedicated like now to really increasing educational equity for kids. And I went into the classroom and I worked 60 to 80-hour weeks. I was the person who was like, “Yeah, let me be in charge of that committee.” And “Yes, let me try to do this thing.” And “Oh, there's not this resource. That's okay, I'll make it.” And this was pre-Google, pre-Pinterest. It was like, I'm just gonna figure it all out, you know, at all costs. And I also never asked for help. I was like, let me close the door. I'm gonna pretend like I've got it all together even though I definitely didn't have it all together. And I would go home and I would cry and I would be exhausted and sacrifice my sleep and all these things.

I would skip bathroom breaks and eat and all the things I know a lot of educators out there can understand. And my health started to tank. And as a teacher, I loved all the kids, but the kids who also particularly spoke to my heart were the kids with the biggest challenges. And so I was like, you know what? I just think I need to go back to grad school. The reason I'm getting sick and the reason I'm stressed out is I just don't know enough. So I was like, “Oh, let me go get a Ph.D. cuz that'll be somehow easy-ish.” You know, that's what I told myself. So then I was like, okay, lemme go back to grad school. And I became a school psychologist with a very big focus on prevention and general education within school psychology. And so, I became a school psychologist and I was like, okay then let me just kill myself to help the teachers and also do direct support for kids.

You let me do that. Oh, and then, by the way, let me add motherhood to the mix. So, lemme have some kids on my own. So it was just, this was the journey and I just kept self-sacrificing, kept giving. And even though my health had healed a little bit because I had taken a little tiny summer break between being a teacher in grad school that was, you know, I actually slept and did all the things. I still never thought, oh, I should take care of myself. And then, you know, all through grad school and all the other things, I added onto my plate again. I never thought let me take care of myself or never thought that adult well-being was of value relative to supporting kids. I just thought we all needed to push through. And also in my own training, while I got training as a school psychologist to support adults and kids in their wellbeing, I still never really got training in let's take care of yourself too in this process.

And so in 2015-16 times, like around that time, my health just continued to tank. Like there were little cues all along for the, the past however many years of my life, right, that I had kind of ignored the messages of my body and, but things just started to escalate. My body started to get louder. I kept ignoring, I kept pushing through and other things started to happen.

The chronic disease started to set on and I was just like super anxious all the time. And my anxiety kept spiraling. My health got worse and worse. I was like having chronic headaches and migraines and physical pain and I was just a wreck. And I would also go to the doctor and they would tell me, “Well, your labs are okay. It's all in your head.” And so that felt really good to be gaslit in that way. Uh oh. Yes.

Jen Rafferty:

Actually, there's another episode with Dr. Beth Westy that addresses just that. So I'm glad you said that too.

Katie Raher:

Yeah. So this is like all my experience and even in schools I would go to work and I would put on my happy face and like even though my body felt like it was just breaking, I would just pretend like I had it all together so I could support everyone else. And so then eventually I hit a pretty dark spot in life and I also lost my voice for a month related to some of my chronic disease stuff. And I was just; it was a wreck. I was spiraling, spiraling, spiraling. And I got to a really deep dark place, and it was whew. I was like, something has to change. And after this sort of, “Oh my gosh, something has to change” moment. The next day I went to work. It was in this IEP meeting, I was leading, mind you, because I had no voice.

I was leading it with, I would type in something and then it would talk for me. And I had skipped lunch. Very common for me. I had skipped a bathroom break even though I was like my bladder was super full and I couldn't think straight. That was just sort of my norm. And I started to just like my whole body was convulsing. I'm sure it was a related part of my blood sugar crashing. But it was like, then I had this out-of-body experience, and it was this, okay, can't do this anymore. Like, nope, your body is yelling, can't do it anymore. And it was the moment at which I was like, things have to change. So in my own journey, I started to seek out help and alternative means of help. So one of the first people who I got help from was my acupuncturist, who's still my acupuncturist to this day.

And then just started to surround myself with more support. And I was like, I can't do this anymore. I have to say no to things because I have to say yes to myself. And so then on my own journey, I found out I had autoimmune diseases and it was just like things were unpacking and I really did a lot of work, mind, body spirit to heal myself and to come back home to myself. And on that journey, I started to realize, in the work I was doing with teachers and children, how common this was in schools. Like I wasn't the only one doing this. And most of my work as a school psychologist was doing mental health consultations with teachers in this sort of preventative way. And we would always talk about the kids and we would co-create an understanding of what was going on with a kid or a situation in a system in the classroom.

We would co-create intervention plans. It was never me, my version of consultation, it's never me coming in saying you have to do this to make this better. It's coming and bringing in the expertise of the teacher. And I had never included a sense of, like, what about you? And so we would come up with these intervention plans and then they wouldn't be implemented. And then my target was like, okay, well what else could we tweak to this intervention plan? And really the missing piece was the fact that these teachers felt like crap. They were also exhausted and had their own health problems and at home, spouses, parents, and children of their own who were, needed a lot of their attention or whatever it was. And so when it came down to it, like in the real moment, it was hard for them to implement what they were very capable of implementing because they felt terrible.

They themselves, their own regulation, their own nervous systems were so fried. And so then it was like, okay, let me add in some of the well-being pieces that I started integrating into my own life. And it shifted things. People were like, oh my gosh Katie, uh, it's so good to talk about this. Oh my gosh, yes, I'm feeling terrible. And so it was like they were taken care of and then it was so much easier for them to then take care of others or for them to even admit what was it that was complicated or hard for them. This is why it was hard for me to work with this kid in this way.

And so they felt more comfortable and safe to say, yeah, this is what I don't know, this is where I need help. They increased that confidence like, oh yeah, I feel safe. I feel seen, I feel heard. And so that was really kind of how it all came to be. And then I really just wanted to create a business where I brought this work to educators. So now I offer a variety of services to support educators in their well-being. I still support educators with the social-emotional learning tools that I've done sort of longer-term before I took care of myself. Cause I do think that's also part of educators' wellbeing is being empowered with actual tools that like directly help, you know, like you know, strategies for the kids. And it's the other pieces too. So making educators feel seen, heard, supported, you know, it's really that care for the caregiver piece. And then I'm sure we'll talk about other services and how these other things unfolded in terms of the services I offer. Because they really, what I offer is the tools that I found to be most helpful for me and the people you know, who I was kind of supporting in my days where I was really playing to figure out what really supported folks. So yeah, so that's how I got here.

Jen Rafferty:
Amazing. And it's so interesting, right? And I refer to this as a lot. It's like this Wizard of Oz moment where you realize that the things that you wanted most are right in your backyard. That's just how this is. And the things that are most helpful to the people that you serve are the things that you embrace and embody yourself. But we're not taught to hold up a mirror. In fact, we're often discouraged from holding up that mirror. And I think that's where we end up getting ourselves in a lot of trouble because we're always looking out, we're looking out for answers, we're looking out for our own value and affirmation of our worth. And at the end of the day, we have all of these things already. And if we just took a moment to pause and ask ourselves what do I really need in this moment? It might be a very uncomfortable question at first, but it is probably the most important question you could ever ask yourself. Would you agree?

Katie Raher:
Absolutely. It's my favorite question whenever I start, like if I'm starting a series of things with a group, the first question I ask is like, what do you need? Like, what do you really need? And I asked that in part because, so when I was on my own journey of coming back to myself before I led this work, I was attending these beautiful women's circles. And the first question always in, I would, I would do these 10-week series, and it was always, what do you need? And the first time I got asked it, all I journaled about was, I don't know. Is it even okay for me to ask that question? Shouldn't I be asking what other people need? And I had to grieve that, and I felt like a failure. Like how do I not know what I need? And I had all these layers of feeling guilty, feeling shame about it, feeling like how do I not know this?

But then, feeling guilty for even thinking I'm worthy of considering this. There were so many layers in there. And so it's always an interesting question to go through on a regular basis that that particular place that I would do that work ended up closing down the woman moved away. It's a question that especially when I'm in a darker place, I always come back to that question as like the most important question. I mean that's really to me what the root of self-compassion is, is like checking in with ourselves like what do I need? And that I'm worthy of pausing and just pausing and seeing what comes.

Jen Rafferty:
Right, the value of that pause, even up and of itself, is really important. And I'm really glad that you went there and talked about all of those feelings that you had of grief and shame and mourning and confusion almost. You know, for me, a lot of times, answering that question is a lot of resistance, although I, too, have done this work for a long time. So I'm much further along now in this journey. However, every once in a while, I'm in a place where it still kind of comes back to, I don't know.

And you know, I think one of the most important pieces of that particular question and answering that is giving yourself grace and also being okay if the answer for right this moment is, I don't know, because through this work you will know and you'll become more familiar with what it is you need in any given moment. And these are even really important questions not to ask all the time when you're sitting in quiet and you're able to like being by yourself, these are some of the things that you need to ask yourself in moments of heightened activation, right? When there's a student who's giving you a difficult time instead of reacting right away. A really beautiful moment that you can take for yourself is first of all valuing the pause and then asking yourself, well what do I need in this moment? Because the more you're able to answer that question, the better you are able to serve that child.

Katie Raher:
Absolutely. And I think our go-to is what do they need? And obviously, we're considering that when a kid is dysregulated, but ultimately what they need is for us to bring our calm, to bring our regulation, to bring our attunement. And so, like, ultimately, the question is, what do I need at this moment to be able to do that? So it always comes back to that. And when we don't do that, what you know then, as any of us who've been with the kid, we're all humans. So we've all had moments where we're not necessarily, we didn't use the pause. We've all had moments where we did react, and then things escalate, and then they escalate, and we escalate. It's like, oh. And so it's so interesting how so many training I've been to throughout, you know, I've been in education for 20 years now, grad school, PDs, whatever, there's always, they'll we'll talk about what to support with kids, and then it's always like an afterthought. Like the last five minutes is like, oh by the way you gotta take care of yourself because that's how you do all this other stuff, right? And it's like, to me it flips, it's like well if we, if we can support ourselves and we feel really connected here, so much easier to support the others. Yeah.

Jen Rafferty:
But that's kind of in the air that we breathe. Us in a service industry like education. It's this giver syndrome, it's this martyrdom and that leads to like what you said, that self-neglect and we don't know what it means to honor our own well-being and we feel guilty for even thinking a thought about maybe honoring ourselves. And so, you know, what is your experience in working with educators, kind of navigating through some of that?

Katie Raher:
I might think oftentimes, well I'll say there's two sort of layers of when people come to work with me. I think there are a lot of people who are like, they're really curious about the work, and it sounds so juicy and good, but they're not yet ready to invest in themselves in this way. And so they don't sign up for things. And I understand because that's me 10 years ago, like there was this little hint inside this little voice, my intuition that was telling me, “Oh my gosh, I can't do this anymore. Like I need to reach out.” And I would do little things like I would go to one little class before I got really sick and I'm like, oh no, I felt so bad. My kids were sad when I got home that I had gone. Or oh then I didn't have time for the, it was like I just talked myself out of it again and again and again.

So there are sort of people there, but, to me that's progress. Like there's still that little voice there and they're like, they're getting towards that path, you know? Then there are the people who come to me who are like, okay, I'm ready. Like, I don't know what to do yet, but I'm ready. And they oftentimes are in that space that we were just talking about. They're confused as to what do I need? I don't know, help me. So sometimes it's like they're seeking my answers and they may hold a container for it, but ultimately the actual answers for them are within them. And it's always so unique to each person. So much of what we work on is, and they feel guilty if they also go and take care of themselves, both in terms of students, but also I find another big piece, and maybe it's just who I happen to attract as clients, but they often have families of their own.

So their moms, their aunties or whatever it is, grandmas and they're like, oh but I, I had to do this for my kids so I couldn't come again for myself. And again I remember it so well not setting that boundary. And so we try to, so much of the, what we're trying to do at first is just establish a sense of like, it's okay, you are worthy of it, and it's not gonna hurt those around you for you to take care of yourself. It's not selfish, it's actually quite good for them. And there's a lot of, well what will happen? You know, like, oh but what about them? And it's like, well how can we find a way for you to have this time for yourself or, and sometimes, you know, yes, on my program we do have sort of spacious moments of time.

We have hour calls or hour-and-a-half calls depending on the time of the month. But what about like, can you take five minutes? Like it's not gonna hurt your kid, your students, your whatever. If you take five minutes in my program then the number one thing people comment on that the program makes them feel is they develop that sense of worth that like, I am worthy of this time and not because I worked for it or had to earn it but because I'm human. I get to have this as well. But really it's a lot of that emotional stuff that really we have to work through at first and then people get to a place where they do feel like they're worth it but they like say for me for example, I very much feel it's, but then there's still be pockets where the old patterns will come up because I'm about to turn 43, like much of my life was spent neglecting myself.

So old patterns will come up if I have a lot of deadlines if I've got whatever it is. You know, it's, we all have busy times of the year, whatever our own kids, our students need a lot. And it's like, okay, I'll be fine. I'll just push through just for a couple of days, and then I'll get back to it. You know? And then we, it's so easy to fall back on those old patterns. And a big piece of too, you know, when people come is, I find that when people come to me a lot of times, they also feel broken, which is definitely how I felt. And also trying to help them realize yes, you've got a lot of stuff maybe going on. Yes, there are parts of you maybe that are getting really loud inside, and there's this confusion or resistance or whatever it is, but you're not broken.

You're whole, you are whole and you're just having a hard time, right? And so much of society views, like if a person doesn't have altogether or if they have these big emotional releases like that, that means you're broken. Absolutely not. It means you're so whole, and you're living the full human experience. And I think as people evolve over time, they feel more safe and comfortable diving into that. I dunno if that answers your question, but no, people come to me very much. So that's kind of the sweet of it. There's just they don't feel worthy of the time. And sometimes they also just don't have the tangible tools of like, okay, so this is, these are the words you can say to set a boundary. These are the words you can say to say hey, I need help so I can get to this thing that makes me feel better.

And I'll just say this one last thing, the beautiful thing about the age that my kids are right now, my kids are 12 and 9 when they were little cause they were pretty little when I started my own journey, they definitely were like, I don't want you to go, mommy. My heart would be like ugh, I shouldn't do this for myself. But at that point, I was feeling so terrible, like there was no, no other choice. But now, because of so many things, I've responded to them with, you know, I'll tell them, I would validate their feelings. I know you don't want mommy to go, I know you're sad, and I am able to be a better mommy. I'm able to do this better when I go take care of myself because then I'm calmer with you. I'm able to support you better. And now my kids are starting to reflect those things back to me with their words, which is so cool.

You know, they'll say like, oh I know, like yeah, mom, you should go to that because you're always so much just calmer, like more zen or whatever it is when you do those things. And you're always so much better, like, you know, talking through things with me when I'm having a hard time; they get it now. But it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when we have little people we're supporting or students who sometimes we don't get with our students, and we don't get to see that like play out. Or we're also sometimes getting messages from our systems that are like, what's wrong with you? Why did you take a day off? Or why did you da da da? So it's much harder when there's these other messages fighting us and that's really I think what people also are managing when they come to me.

Jen Rafferty:
Oh, for sure. And that's, I think, part of what's really important about the work that we do is in educating the educators; we start to change some of these systems because these systems don't change until people change. And I think a lot of men, many times people talk and then they, they point fingers like, well this, if my administrator is just blah blah blah, well guess what? Your administrator is very much a human, too, and is struggling through the same things that you are, but we're not talking about it in a way that's safe and productive, and healthy so that we can all grow together. Everyone's just kind of pointing fingers at each other, and everyone's grumpy about it.

So I think this is so important and especially this idea that we don't need to come to a point in our lives where we are so sick. Like what, as you described, yes. Or something catastrophic is happening to go seek help. And this is something that I also think is changing within our society a little bit, little by little. Like I can even see just generationally the way my mother used to talk about, like the self-help section at Barnes and Noble. Like, remember bookstores?

Katie Raher:
Totally. Totally.

Jen Rafferty:
But like that's what my shelves are full of what she would now she's changed her tune, especially with the work that I do and what my sister does now. It's all the same. But for me, it's like, well, when you wanna learn about something, and you wanna be better at it, you wanna get as much information as possible. And so for me, it's like, “Well, I am living this life, and I wanna be really good at it.”

Katie Raher:

Jen Rafferty:
I wanna learn as much about myself as I possibly can. And when you talk about your acupuncturists and the other support that you have in your life right now, you have like team Katie and I have team Jen and my question to the listeners out there, it's like, well, who's on your team? Well, who are the people that are on your team? And what I wanna kind of transition to now is some of the other work that you do, particularly with breath work because I think now these team players are a lot more varied than maybe they used to be because all of this new science is coming out as to you know, what is actually helpful for your nervous system. It's not just about the food that you put into your body and the exercise you do or seeing a therapist. There are so many other places where you can get support and really build this awesome team so you can be your best self. So you can make the impact in this world that you said you wanted to make. Especially as an educator who you are affecting generations. And you know, I get so passionate about this work because when you do really well when you win, everybody around you wins. And this is how we make transformational change in the generations to come. So can you talk a little bit about this other stuff that you do outside of maybe the quote-unquote norms of school psychologists?

Katie Raher:
Yeah, and I just wanna pause. Couple things. One, I just wanna say thank you cuz I know so much of what you do is just lifting people up. That's what you do. All our interactions, like you're just about lifting educators themselves up but also about other people who help educators. And so I just love that because in a society that says we should compete like you're just all about making sure everybody's lifted up because that's how everyone gets their team. And there's plenty of need for teams out there. I just wanna say thank you for who you are.

Jen Rafferty:
I received that. Thank you. And I will say, too, you know when this is a side, I'm so glad that you said that because, on the surface, you and I do very similar work. Totally. And I am so excited to share my platforms with people like you, but especially you. Because I happen to enjoy you very much. Because you know, like you said, when you win, I win. And when I win, you win. Like that's, we're all in this together, and I really believe this and this idea of working together I think, is fundamental to understanding that we are all human and have all of these very same needs. So thank you, Katie.

Katie Raher:
Yeah, because I think that's a big piece of even what can get in the way of our well-being. There's this almost a competitive nature. That's why I stayed in my classroom. I wanted to have the best classroom, and I didn't need anyone that was my mentality. Or that's, you know, what can happen in like administrators can feel that pressure like our school's gotta get this performance. And so it's like taking away that performative level, and it just instead coming from this place of like really intentional human-centered healing, connection, growth, like all that together. You know? So in terms of the team thing, I just wanted to also mention I'm all about that too. I'll tell my people everybody needs to develop their own IWP, so like an IEP for kids. Instead, for us, we have an individualized well-being plan.

We all have to figure out what works uniquely for us. So some people, my husband, the idea of going to an acupuncturist, heck no, you know, and here whatever it is, breath work totally fills me up and fills up so many people who may or may not be your thing. And ultimately though kid who has an IEP, they have an IEP team. What that team does is, they make sure that that kid's supported in the best way possible. So we all need an IWP team, people who surround us, who support us with that. So sometimes it's even, hey, my intention today is to stop working at three o'clock. I need you to remind me and get me out here cause we can still sabotage. So telling our team and surrounding ourselves and putting that team on the calendar, like I'm meeting with this person today, it's important you know with we would never miss certain things for our own kids, for our students.

We make sure we go to library time, and we make sure we bring our kids to basketball or whatever. So we also are worthy of that and we surround ourselves with a team to help us with that. And so in terms of, you know, one possibility for your IWP and me being part of your team is breath work. And on my own journey, it was interesting, it's so fascinating to me that I'm actually someone who now advocates for breath work and teaches it because throughout my life I had terrible asthma and focusing on my breath even with mindfulness, as I developed that and used that too, for my own healing, I preferred all other forms of mindfulness focusing on sounds, body scans, whatever. But the breath would stress me out and I couldn't do it. But then eventually I just was like, you know, I know it's supposed to be really helpful.

So I integrated movement, I did all this work around the breath, and I ended up healing that but still hadn't come to what I'm, what I'm referring to as breath work and on my own healing journey still with because of still some resistance around the breath cuz of my own history. Breathwork was one of the last things I ended up trying in the modality. So I did pretty much most everything else you can think of on the like platter of possibilities. And then I kept hearing about breath work, and it just kept coming to me, and I was like, okay. And I do believe one of my mentors, Danny Kenny, talks about GUS- God's Universal Source. So whatever your higher power is, God. But I did believe, like, okay, God keeps sending me these messages that I need to go drive breath work.

So I did. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, what was that?” Oh whoa. I had done things like 4, 7, 8 breathing. I had done box breathing, I had done those other things which did help me. And I do think those are where we bring that conscious attention to the breath, and we are intentional with our breath. This kind of breath works, though, transformational breath work is when we have really; we have continual conscious breath.

So Connected Conscious Breath versus Sustained Amount of Time. And there are different versions. There's sort of a, what I refer to as integrative sessions where the continuous conscious breath is less than eight minutes, and then there's meditative where we go even longer. Cause most people, even when they're doing 4, 7, 8, whatever it is, nobody goes eight minutes typically. And even with those things, there are holes in between. And so the conscious, continual breath is this hugely powerful somatic practice that helps us get into our body in ways that nothing else I've ever done can do.

It allows us to turn our minds off and lets our body heal, in all these amazing ways. And anybody who knows sort of looks at trauma-informed practices or that kind of work knows that, you know, the body keeps the score. If you're aware of ACEs and those kind, that kind of work and around trauma, the body. And even if you don't have an ace score of anything, like if you have a zero still ultimately the body, like my body got really sick because I was taking all my stress and I wasn't moving through it. I was like, it was all just in my body. All the emotions that I was like, oh, I don't have time to feel that it, it's all in my body. So when I did this breath work, I was able to feel, I was able to move through it, I was able to unpack these stuck places in my body and it was like, whoa, what was that?

Especially with meditating, you get into the some subconscious work, but even with the shorter sessions, we're shifting so much energy, it just changes how we feel. So, um, and one of the biggest, you know, benefits is stress release, anxiety relief, those kinds of things. But it also helps us to unpack these places that have been kind of stuck and holding on for so long. And so it's like my body was just like, huh, whoa, whoa, you know, I feel so much better. And, and we do know that any type of really good breath practice also really toes the vagus nerve, which is, you know, I won't go into all that, but you know, ultimately, it's the vagus nerve is this powerhouse source of healing in our body. It's connected to all things and lots of different levels, mind, body, and spirit. And when we can heal and sort of unstick places that we've been holding, we really expand our window of tolerance.

So even when a kid is dysregulated in my capacity to just even handle that, it just expands, it grows. So we're able to show up with those we love in these just more centered, grounded, healed ways. And that transfers too. So breath work, it doesn't have to be long, it can be a minute, but it shifts our energy. So most people think of breath, and they're like, oh yeah, it can calm you down. Absolutely. But it also can energize you. It also can create clarity. It can do all these other things. Like for example, even for work, when I'm feeling really stuck about a work topic, even just like I'm planning a workshop or whatever, I'll breathe, and it's like then afterward like I have this clarity, and then I'm like I can just slow it out, and it's like I save time. So even though, yeah, I breathe for 20 minutes. Wow. Now I busted that out cuz it was in alignment with my soul, and it wasn't like I was trying to push and force and figure out, like, what is everyone else? You know, I just came from that place of centeredness, that place of intuition. It could come through. So that's, in a nutshell,  power of breath work.

Jen Rafferty:
Yeah, that is huge. And I know the people who work with me and anyone who's like dabbled a little bit in breath work, understand the box breath and the 4-7-8. Is there something that's kind of a bite-size piece of an exercise that you can give to our listeners that they can do today?

Katie Raher:
Yeah. So I use a handful of patterns, but my favorite, which I think is the simplest, it's just the halo active breath, and it's just in through the nose, out through the mouth. Remembering that it's continuous and conscious the whole time. So you can adjust it however you feel. And ultimately, my model of breath work, a trauma porn model, is that you are in the driver's seat, and you get to decide what feels right. Like, maybe you don't wanna just have them be even in and even out. Maybe you're like, I need the exhale to lengthen, which is really just deep breathing, you know like that extended to get that parasympathetic nervous system back online, that peaceful state. And to shift energy, though, we can do this in out, and you can change the speed, you can change the depth.

So even if, just for a minute, we'll just breathe for just a minute given this, and I don't know what you're copyright and all that kind of stuff. So I won't put down music, but I do generally use music in my practice. So even when I do it myself, like I'm no one's around, I'll put a song on, and I'll breathe to that. There is something really beautiful that I've found when I breathe with or without music. The music does just elevate our capacity to drop into the body a little quicker. But we'll just-

Jen Rafferty:

Oh, right now? Oh yeah. Cool.

Katie Raher:

Let's breathe for a minute. Just one minute. This isn't gonna be that different than box breathing or 4-7-8. We're doing it for a minute, and I like to do it for longer, but just so you know, and you could get little tingles in your body, but we'll just breathe for a minute. That's cool. You can do it.

Jen Rafferty:
Yeah. Cool.

Katie Raher:

Okay. So again, enter the nose out through the mouth. We're just gonna do even in and out. I'm gonna put my mic a little closer so you can hear me. We'll breathe altogether. I'll do it too. Well, I'll get the benefits. Yeah.

Jen Rafferty:

And if you're driving, please make sure that you're being safe and your eyes are open.

Katie Raher:

If you're driving, I would just, instead of doing it with me, I would just do just sort of traditional deep breathing. Go really slow. Make that exhale really long. You'll probably get three deep breaths in when we do a little bit more this time. Yeah, for safety.

All right, so here we go. You can do eyes open or closed, totally up to you. I'm gonna do eyes open so I can see the timer. All right. So just go ahead, start to bring that breath in through the mouth, in through the nose, out through the mouth, in through the nose, out through the mouth. Letting any part of the body move that needs to be moved or stay in stillness if that's what feels in alignment.

Just a little bit more with the breath. On this next one, I'm gonna ask you to sigh it out, open your mouth, and make a noise. Just allowing the breath to return to its natural pace. Perhaps taking some really slow breaths. Just coming back to the space. Whenever you're ready. I'm sure Jen will join us first since she's leading the podcast here.

Jen Rafferty:
That was great.

Katie Raher:

Yeah, just noticed the energy shift.

Jen Rafferty:
Totally shift, and that was energizing for me in a way that I wasn't really anticipating.

Katie Raher:
Yeah. And that one was the way I did at the speed. I definitely did a little bit of energy. And so when a kid's just regulated, you know, that's probably not the breath we wanna do. We wanna do that at a separate time. When our kid is just regulated, we want to really slow it down. We want them to feel that length and exhale- that calming. But we can do the halo active at a slower pace.

Katie Raher:
It is just a deep breath. Yeah. But there's a little bit more intentionality, and there's more continuous connectedness to it, and there are so many other things we can do with this breath. So it's like, to me, it's this cool thing because it's free, it's readily available. So it is actually Monday morning while we're recording this, it's Monday morning, and you're like, oh my gosh, I gotta get my students. Or, oh my gosh, I gotta go like whatever it is, put on a song, breathe for a minute.

And it's like the energizing power of that because when we bring that to our interactions, there's just something. And there's also no shame if you bring tired and overwhelmed sometimes that's our humanity, and that's okay too. No shame or blame for that. But if you want to feel a little bit more energized or whatever it is, or if we had continued for a lot longer.

Usually, what happens is there's like just parts that start to unpack, and we feel like some tension release people told me like, oh, after breath work, my back popped. And for the first time in like a month, I feel no pain in my back. We're releasing things, and we're just, we're giving permission to our body to feel what's been there.

So that, that we wanna do maybe more in a  container or on your own, whatever feels right for you, whatever is like your safety level. And there's just this power of using the breath to shift our energy. And cuz sometimes it's, it's not that we need a slow breath, sometimes we need a faster, more energizing breath to unpack things. Cuz sometimes, we are just like holding in, and maybe because we've been conditioned, especially say, as women, we're not supposed to scream, we're not supposed to be angry, right? We're supposed to be sweet, and you know, it's okay to be sad, but all these other things maybe we, we've been told not to.

Sometimes we need to move this energy and let it like come to the surface and whew. So sometimes in breath work, people yell, and people let it rip in other ways, you know, and that's what we need. We need to move through our feelings rather than just shove them in there all the time.

Jen Rafferty:
Yeah. That release is everything. And so healing. Thank you so much for taking us through all of that. Super powerful And if you're listening and interested in more breath work, we'll make sure that Katie tells us about her information, uh, before we leave. But before we do that, I just need to ask the same question I ask all of my guests, Katie. Yeah. And that is what for you is your dream for the future of education.

Katie Raher:
Yeah, really, my vision is that education systems. There are systems, there are places where people, adults, and children feel more connected. There's more compassion; there's more centering on humanity. That's really what is my dream; to me, the education system is this beautiful opportunity to transform society. As you said earlier, individuals are who change systems, and altogether, collectively, we can make an impact on society. You know, so instead of the conditioning that I know, I'm sure you did too as a kid, and I know our kids also current generation of children get is this messaging of push through. You have to be perfect. You've gotta, people please, you've gotta perform. What would it be like if yes we get to be our best selves, but what if we shifted that a little bit? That it also honored our humanity and our strengths and we tap into that.

Because I just think in general society would be happier, we would be just generally more connected and, and so that's just really my vision. So, you know. Yes. Do I, my husband's a high school math teacher. Yes. Do I love the idea of kids being able to be like critical thinkers because of his class? Absolutely. I do love those academic kinds of things too. Do I want every kid to be able to be literate? Yes, absolutely. And how we do that is through relationships. And there's such beautiful work being done in schools where relationships are becoming more centered. Humanity is being centered, but it's just that what if the messages that came through were always just more compassionate and more centered in that way.

So that's, that's really my, my dream. We've talked a little bit before, I think in the past about our own inner children. So that, my little girl feels safe to not have to kill herself to get straight A's that she feels like I'm still gonna be loved even if I go down this road because it feels more in alignment, you know? Or I'm having a bad day, and if I take a break, it's okay, you know? And that my own children and my own students feel that as well. It's a culture shift. It's hard. I know that's a culture shift because I'm still doing the work. Yes. And that's really my dream. Yeah. Yes.

Jen Rafferty:
Yes. But that's just it, you know, you do the work, I do the work, everyone listening does the work, and we do it individually within the community, and that is really how we start to shift all of it. So thank you for sharing that. It's a beautiful dream, and the more we can shout it from the rooftops, the more we are able to maybe, uh, visualize it. If not, you know, in our lifetime, at least we're planting seeds for the next generation to carry that torch. So Katie, how do people get in touch with you if they wanna learn more about you and the work that you do?

Katie Raher:
Yeah, so my website is You can hop over there and get one of my freebies. If you wanna stay connected, there's a free self-compassion break poster and mini cards that you can spread about. There's a free educator self-care menu, and some other freebies related to more kid SEL kinds of things. And also, I'll share the link with you if you wanna put it in the show notes. I'll share, a link to a breath work if you wanna get information on breath work. There'll be lots of offerings coming up in the new year.

And also opportunities if you would like to be in my educator wellbeing membership with sort of live support with community and circles. And so you can head out there if you wanna email me, you're always welcome to email me, [email protected]. I'm on Facebook under Constant Love and Learning. On Instagram, @constantloveandlearning_. And yeah, would love to stay connected both for yourself and any schools out there that want to bring me in to actually give some support to their educators in real-time with breathwork, with circles, with whatever feels in alignment and really shift the culture.

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