Trust TED to find the most inspiring speakers. Dr. Alan Watkins is a dashing founder of Complete Coherence Ltd from London, England. He gives talks and trains Execs on leadership and neuroscience of performance. Honestly, I have to give a shout out to my amazing husband to lead me to this discovery.
The videos below explain breathing and life in a straightforward way (done in such a charming British accent–yaaaayyy…..)
Just to kind of summarize the first part up, outwardly, we show results (performance) due to behavior (do’s). Inwardly, our actions are highly dependent on how we think and even more so by how we feel (awareness). Yet, even more underlying than those are the registered energetic state (electrical current, pressure, etc.) of emotion due to our physiology (streams of data from body).
Unfortunately, there’s a BREAKDOWN at the feeling level. For example, under everyday pressure or challenges, your body might have an elevated heart rate and other physiological responses, but you are “alright” when asked as to how you’re feeling. It’s a mysterious way of how we COPE.
So, in a relaxed state, the normal heart rate is in the range of 70-80. In the video, Dr. Watkins then introduces HRV (heart rate variability) as a form of measure and analysis. Specifically, HRV “predicts death, predicts energy, and alters brain function.” The important part stressed is how HRV indicates frontal lobe shut-offs. These cortical inhibition occurrences are critical in our ability to THINK.
The second part picks up at how our body is designed to acutely respond to physiological chaos by immediately shutting down the frontal lobe. With the thinking part of our brain inhibited, we assume binary system of survival from our caveman ancestors: “fight or flight.” Dr. Watkins mentions the example of seeing a bear. So, you either “think” to have to play dead or to try to outrun the danger. Our brain retains this simplistic process even to this day as a way to COPE. We have a software that never gets updated to match the environment.
Since the constraint here is the quality of thinking, then it is necessary to change the context of which thoughts emerge (by way of biology).
There are twelve aspects of proper breathing that we can control or regulate. Dr. Watkins touches only on the most important three:
1. Rhythm–is providing better quality fuel for the brain, even when the heart rate remains at the same level during chaotic breathing.
2. Smoothness–the rhythm of breathing must be done in an even fashion, not staccato.
3. Location of attention–is recommended to the center of the chest. By concentrating breathing on the heart itself, it has three important benefits: it is the most powerful organ of the body (in generating electrical and electromagnetic outputs), it reverts away from head noises, and it returns awareness of the emotion level.
Here’s my favorite part:
Truth is, performance and their effectiveness are not correlated directly to the different levels of excitement (red vertical arrow in diagram) as they are often understood as. It is more important to pay attention to the state of positivity (blue horizontal arrow). When you are not thinking, you are “lobotomizing” yourself toward anxiety, anger, frustration, apathy, boredom, detachment, and indifference. The sad part is many individuals, especially those in the active workforce, exhibit negative state and therefore be governed by poor decision-making competencies. However, by breathing, we are enabled to at least perform at mid level. Scientifically, proper breathing, at the very least, shall balance out cortisol with DHEA. The goal here is to ensure that the brain has proper fuel to think.
BREATHE = Breathe Rhythmically, Evenly, And To the Heart Everyday
Honestly, I have always been opposed to “breathing techniques” since it sounds too new-age frou-frou for my scientific mind, even if I am a chronic victim of anxiety. I, myself, realize that I have always had the worst kind of stress response–bottling it all up. I cope by constantly pushing away the noises. But of course, the more I push, the more my thoughts would struggle. I easily abandon meditation and/or chanting since I never had concrete evidence of the positive effects they supposedly elicit. Now, I understand the what, the why, the how, and the results in one contiguous process. My scientific mind is thoroughly satisfied. Now, I can whole-heartedly aim for COHERENCE.
The verdict is a RESOUNDING yaaaaayyyy!!
When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace – Author Unknown
PS: Check out Dr. Watkins and his research at http://www.complete-coherence.com/. Oh, I actually breathe most comfortably at the 4-6 pace. And this site, http://10secondbreath.com/, helps breathing in the 5-5 pace. The breathe-in and breathe-out sounds are very relaxing. Interestingly, my name, DHEA, stands for Dehydroepiandrosterone, which is the good-feel inducer mentioned ahhahaha….. (as my husband kindly pointed out).