Neuroscientist Dan Siegel developed a “hand-model of the brain” to help people understand what happens when emotions rule and a person can “flip their lid.” Siegel’s hand model suggests that the thumb tucked into the palm represents the deep-brain amygdala, where emotions reside. The fingers that fold over the thumb represent the frontal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for critical thinking, learning, and problem solving.
With mindfulness, a person can recognize when big emotions are starting to happen. By making the hand model and taking some steady breaths, the individual can learn more emotional awareness and train the brain to come back to calm.
With a gentle ocean for a backdrop, this video demonstrates the hand model and how breathing can pull a wiggly lid down one finger at a time. If little fingers cannot coordinate the version demonstrated, a helper can show how to breathe all the fingers up and down together until the lid feels settled down.