Shut Up and Breathe! Upgrade your Life? Health? Career? Brain? Lose Weight Effortlessly? Anybody?
It finally got warmer in Siberia.
Probably not for long as it is still February and spring doesn’t usually start officially till about mid April. Before that a spring is just an occasional guest coming to visit for a day or two. Sometimes it might stay the whole week, if we are lucky, but eventually it leaves. Winter is in charge now.
This morning I went out for so much needed walk, in addition to my regular morning yoga practice I started this year.
I love combining walking with learning. I love listening to different podcasts I’m subscribed to while walking in the morning. My brain really absorbs what I listen to then.
I have a practice. When I need an answer to some question, an insight, some guidance I ask myself a question before falling asleep and let my subconscious mind dwell on it, while my conscious mind is asleep and doesn’t take up any resources.
Last night the question was,
“How can we control our biology?”
Main reason I was asking the question was my quest for the key to super-long life, 1000 year young human project.
I believe we can in fact control all the processes in our body. Aging included. The reason we don’t, is life’s safety system. Till we mature enough, we don’t get to access it, so we don’t screw it up. Haven’t we screwed up enough already? More than half of the population killing themselves with the lifestyle choices. I don’t think it would be wise to give us full control of all our body functions. We could kill ourselves much faster. Some of us never mature enough to deserve a privilege to get full control of our body.
So the question,
“How do we control our biology? All of it? Metabolism in particular”
I woke up feeling an urge to go for a walk and listen to the podcast.
“Breathing is the only process, that is automatic and at the same time we have full control of.”
That was one of the quotes. And it’s true. And it’s a profound realization for me. Breathing is an essential part of our life. It’s something we can’t live without for more than a few minutes. It’s automatic and yet we can control it when we choose to. And, as more and more research confirms, the way we breathe controls in fact our metabolism. It’s well-known to scientists, that by consciously changing our breath patterns, we can control our stress levels, change our state from fight-or-flight response to relaxed, we can control release of happy or stress hormones, we can affect our metabolism, our digestion, the way our brain absorbs and digests information and sensory data, we can control how our cardio-vascular system works, how intensely we experience things.
Conscious Breathing is an actual instrument that allows us to communicate with our body by changing the pattern of breathing. Breathing can literally change our life by changing our mental and physical and emotional state the very moment we change the way we breathe.
I want you to read that paragraph again. And truly understand what a powerful tool to control our body, mind, emotions and life we have all the time at our disposal.
It is a powerful tool that is available to every human being. A tool that is underused and undervalued.
I started to appreciate breathing and learned to breathe consciously, when I had a serious accident and punctured my lung. I realized then, how important breathing was for my physical, mental and emotional state, and how by using it properly I could bring more energy into my body, I could change my emotions, I could ease the pain (5 broken ribs caused a lot of it). I started to appreciate breathing and breathe consciously finally. Mostly because back then I was afraid, if I don’t pay attention to my breath, I would suffocate, since one of my lungs was injured and breathing was not effortless. Broken ribs made it even worse.
Can programming our metabolism and health be as simple as taking full control of our breath?
It just might be the case. Mastering it is another thing. Like anything it takes dedication and everyday practice. And time.
During the podcast Dan Brule, expert on breathing techniques, gave away a few exercises to change our physical, mental and emotional state. I’ll tell you about them and for more information you can always go to his website, where you can also download his free e-book “Shut Up and Breathe! How to Clear Your Head, Settle Your Stomach and Calm Your Nerves.”
- First exercise is to become aware daily of your breathing. You can practice it a few minutes few times a day. Notice how you breathe in different situations. Watch your breathing patterns. Don’t change your breath, just notice. It helps to build connection with our breath. Connection between our physical body, mind, emotions.
- Breathe in twice as long as you breathe out. That helps to activate our sympathetic nervous system, that is in charge of our alert state, ready-to-fight state, good for any kind of intense work, physical or mental, work that requires our full attention and all our resources.
- Breathe out twice as long as you breathe in. That helps to activate parasympathetic nervous system, that is in charge of relaxation and rest, putting our body and mind in a calm state perfect for recharging all our systems, healing.
- Box Breathing. Breathe in for 4 counts. Hold your breath for 4 counts, letting the body fully absorb the oxygen from the lungs. Breathe out for 4 counts. Hold your breath for another 4 counts.
“Box breathing is a simple concentration exercise that also retrains your nervous system to breathe properly. Along with calming the nerves and relieving stress, box breathing can have enormous carryover to your physical training.”
On the podcast Dan said, that Seals use this breathing in their training and right before they go on a mission to concentrate and focus, and prepare their mind and body to whatever comes.
- Continuous Breathing. You can do it fast or slow (Dan mentions, that a healthy person should be comfortable with fast and slow breathing equally). The main idea is to breathe in and then breath out without any pauses in-between. Breathe in and breathe out times should ideally be equal. The breathing technique is very powerful as it helps us to reconnect to our body and all of our senses. It gives us energy and makes us more alive and aware of everything that is going on in our physical, mental and emotional bodies. For a lot of people this breathing is quite challenging as it brings to the surface all the thoughts and emotions, sensations that subconsciously or consciously we try to suppress and avoid. A lot of people can’t handle high level of aliveness.
- Next is what Dan calls, Sufi Breathing. Breathing technique, that we can use to energize ourselves, when we are feeling sleepy, or low on energy, lethargic, depressed, exhausted. You need to breathe in a few times fast and then breathe our one time. Few short breaths in and one long big breath out. Continue for as long as needed.
- And the last mentioned exercise, the one I use quite often, alternate nostril breathing. You breathe in through one nostril and breathe out through the alternate nostril. Then you breathe in through the same nostril you breathe out through, and breathe out through a different nostril. You change your nostrils on every breath out. You can apply any count technique you wish. I like to apply box breathing to it. This breathing helps to activate both hemispheres of our brain and improves our creativity, problem solving abilities and anything that requires to use logical and creative thinking.
I am yet to experience the full potential of conscious breathing to program our biology, our metabolism. But I already know, that it is a very powerful tool.
I use it instead of coffee to make me more alert and focused.
I use it to bring more energy into my body during workouts.
I use it to control my body temperature, when I am exposed to cold or hot temperatures.
I use it to change my emotional state, to relax when I’m feeling stressed, or to make myself more aware and ready to fight when I need it.
I use it to learn, study, think and memorize better.
I use it to improve my flexibility and training faster.
I also believe it helps me to detoxify my body efficiently, to control my metabolism and body composition, hormone production, to make my immune system stronger — I haven’t measured it yet, but I noticed, that since I started practicing daily conscious breathing, my body got into amazing physical shape with much less actual work and I stopped getting sick for more than a few hours. When I feel like I’m getting sick these days (or even when I get food poisoning) all I need is to connect my breathing to visualization of healing, of what I want my body to do, and all the symptoms go away really fast.
So yes, I still get sick, but only for a few hours.
Do you want to get in control of your body?
Your emotional state?
Your mental state?
Your energy levels?
Your weight loss and fitness progress? Or lack of it?
Do you want to finally feel like you ARE in fact in control of your life — physical, emotional and mental state?
With proper breathing you can do it.
Start your breathing practice today.
Practice breathing techniques in the morning, before falling asleep, and in the situations, when you need it. When you need more energy, or need to relax, or get in touch with your emotions, get into more alert and focused state without stimulants and drugs.
Breath is our ultimate tool to get in control of our life.
Conscious breathing is one of the most powerful techniques used by elite athletes, seals and other military professionals, yogis, monks and most successful people in the world of business and art.