There’s breathing to stay alive…. then there’s breathing to change your life.
This habit is an absolute game-changer, and once you learn how to do it, it will have the most effect on your daily performance, how you think and how you feel.
Breathing is the greatest performance tool that we have in our tool kit – once we understand basic mind body science and how to actually use it to our advantage.
Our mind is wired purely for survival – to keep us safe through the biological physiological ‘fight or flight’ response.
Now, for a caveman that may be facing a tiger, but for us, that maybe a presentation at work. It might be an exam. It might be a big match.
Or it might simply be sitting down with an overwhelming to-do list or email inbox.
There are so many different situations that trigger our fight or flight response.
As our body gets ready to fight or flee, our heart starts to race, we start to feel a little bit sick as blood leaves our digestive system and goes to our arm and legs. We can get really tight in the lower back, the hammies, the achilles and the calves.
And here’s the other thing, we start to become very tunnel vision, and parts of our frontal lobe system shutdown so that we can no longer make clear and effective decisions.
Now this happens, not when we’re in danger… but when we think we’re in danger.
So simply, our boss saying “hey, can I speak to you this afternoon?” can put us into that state of fight or flight.
Think about it… are you living in a state of hypervigilance where you perceive ‘danger danger danger’ everywhere. Do you experience tight shoulders, racy heart, inability to make decisions, feeling sick…?
We call that stress today.
Now, the number one way to turn that off, is the effective use of your breath.
Think about this.
If a caveman is about to fight a tiger and then the tiger runs away or he kills the tiger, the first thing that cavemen does is … take a BIG sigh.
Or if you’ve been in a threatening situation with someone and they leave the room… your breath is going to get longer and deeper.
So, the very first way our breath helps us, is the longer and deeper we make that breath, then our body, our diaphragm and the oxygen levels in our system send a very clear message up to our mind that says ‘hey the danger has gone away. Everything is ok’.
We cannot have two focuses. We can’t be focused on:
“Oh my gosh what if I fail?”
“What if I make a mistake in that presentation?”
“What if I don’t do well in this exam?”
And also be focused on:
“What do I need to do here to perform at my best?”
So by using this breath the right way, we are literally switching off that danger danger danger response, and we’re freeing up our focus now to actually sit on what we need to do to perform at our best.
And once that danger danger danger response gets switched off, then we can have thoughts that are going to be more helpful, more productive. We have feelings that are calmer and then we can take actions that are more effective for us.
Check out our Just Breathe video for tips to building your own daily breathing practice.
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