[ The power of claiming your breath as your own || Every breath is a new beginning || Science shows that every breath is unique || Making your breath your best friend ]
The words of the title of this article came out of my friend and breathwork mentor Anthony’s mouth recently at an online breathwork workshop.
And as simple as the words are, in that moment they resonated with me. Especially in the current world climate of 2020/21.
How quickly we can get to a stage where we question our sovereignty. This has been demonstrated worldwide with an almost global lock-down and restrictions put on what rights we take for granted.
Sovereignty is loosely defined as: ‘The full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies’.
This definition is of course biased toward governments and countries and people deemed to be in power. But are we not as individuals granted even by law as having sovereignty over ourselves?
Can sovereignty also be stated as having a right to be in control of how we feel and therefore act based on the environment we find ourselves in?
Could going down that rabbit hole open up a discussion with large differences in opinion? Yes to that. And so that is not the purpose of this article.
Internal versus external validation
If you rely on feedback from the outside world to feel like you belong, have value, or have permission to be a certain way.., then you are at the mercy of others. Your life will be an emotional roller-coaster. You will only get to feel in control when the world, or other people, let you feel in control.
That is giving away your power and sovereignty.
Claiming your own sovereignty then, is in line with personal power and taking almost radical responsibility for where you are. And if we can’t fully control our environment then we can’t claim to have ultimate sovereignty over our environment either.
So what do we have full right and power of? What, if exercised, can give us back this feeling of control and sovereignty over our own experience.
The power of claiming your breath as your own
Breathing is unique over almost all other body processes that keep us alive. It is both automatic (happens without us thinking about it) and under our direct control to influence. And the results of influencing your breathing on purpose can be dramatic.
There is even a part of the brain called the breathing or respiratory pacemaker. And this connects certain breathing speeds and patterns with certain emotional and physical states.
These cells in this part of the brain are called PreBotzinger complex cells. And these cells have to account for speech, activity and emotional changes. They do this by rapidly changing the rhythm of breathing to maintain correct CO2 and O2 levels in the blood depending on the situation.
The importance of breath control is instinctual
Even as children we instinctively knew the importance of our breath. Did you or have you ever seen a child hold their breath in defiance of a parent? Almost as if to say.., do what I ask or I will hold my breath forever.
Parents know that eventually the child’s built in instinct to get oxygen into the body, will force the child to breath again. Sometimes though, this breath holding is actually involuntary in very young children. And in rare cases they can hold their breath until they pass out.
This very rarely leads to any long term health effects but it can be scary to parents. So why does the child do that? I suspect not out of a threat of dying, as that concept is alien to most children in the way we know it as adults.
Perhaps it’s a pattern learnt from the earliest days after birth. After all, a change in breathing is instantly noticeable and therefore brings instant attention. And as adults we maintain that knowing that breathing is a valuable indication of both physical and mental health.
So it should be of no surprise that changing your breathing on purpose will have almost instant effects on your health also.
I would therefore propose that intentional control of your breath is indeed a powerful way to gain a feeling of sovereignty over your life. Breath control has the unbiased role of giving you response-ability over how you are in the world. Breath control brings total ownership by you and no-one else.
Surely we can at least agree to be as aware of the power of our breath as the young child is, holding it in protest.
Every breath is a new beginning
One of the breathing practices that I do on a regular basis is conscious connected breathing where the breathing pattern is circular in nature with no noticeable pause between the inhale and exhale.
More on that in the article: breathwork and audio visual entrainment.
Again.., I’ve heard Anthony often say to think of every breath as a new life. To imagine each inhale as being like the first breath you ever took after being born. And by contrast, each exhale as being like the last letting go just before death.
This is a powerful way to think of breathing consciously as it encompasses more than just breathing.
In fact here’s a funny fact. If you take the word birth and the word death and squish them together.., you get the word breath! Or Dirth.., but that doesn’t fit my point so let’s ignore that variation, haha.
Breath control is presence
So.., “Each new breath I get to claim as my own. And then just as easily as I welcomed it in to my being.., I without attachment, let it go. Knowing that the next breath will be there ready for me, and unique to the moment”.
In a very real sense.., BREATH IS PRESENCE!
And presence is the goal of any practice that seeks to give you control of your life. Whether it be mindfulness, meditation, yoga or even successful business and personal relationships. The art and skill of being present in the moment noticing all that the moment has to offer is what sets the extra-ordinary apart from the ordinary.
And here’s something pretty cool too. I’ve often thought that this way of thinking that ‘every breath is a new beginning’ is a useful framework for breathwork practice and left it at that.
But it turns out that this metaphor is actually proven by science to be true!
Science shows that every breath is unique
The research that follows shows that the previous heading is literally true. Every breath IS actually a new beginning.
Researchers at UCLA set out to test how the brain initiates a breath by measuring the bio-electrical brainwave activity present before and during each breath.
What was found was comparable to an orchestra of neural activity that begins without a conductor. Then suddenly with each new breath, this randomness comes into synchronisation and harmony.
Breath specific neurons fire randomly before each breath. And then quickly organise and synchronise prompting a signal that causes the diaphragm and chest muscles to contract and expand with inhalation. As that signal subsides.., exhalation occurs.
Each time this happens it is completely unique.
And thinking about this logically.., could it be any other way? Just the action of deciding to get up and go outside involves many unique thoughts, actions and challenges to overcome.
Each of these variables has it’s own requirement of breathing amount and pattern. In essence the brain and lung connection needs to be ready to adjust ‘in a heartbeat’. I use the word heartbeat on purpose because research also shows that heart rhythm changes constantly too in response to the breath.
So it is not just a clever metaphor to say each breath is a new beginning. It is the truth.
Making your breath your best friend
The importance of breathing is obvious and your breath will be with you until it’s not. Simplistic statement but true.
It’s OK to take your breath for granted. But why do that with something with both the potential to improve your health and the potential to give you so many avenues of discovery and fun. The same is true with light and sound journeys of course which is the main focus of this website.
The key to becoming a master of your breath
Catch yourself noticing your breath and in that moment choose to either keep noticing it, or start to alter it consciously. Do this in the times when you feel good and you will find it easier to do it in the times when you don’t feel good.
Have a laugh at yourself as you sigh on purpose randomly or breath in time with your walking. Spend your time on trains or buses or planes practising breathing so that the journey becomes something you look forward to. Smile as you do it knowing that you are in that moment living on purpose!
Make your breath your best friend. That friend that is ALWAYS there to play with you or help you feel better.
Do that and the results will surprise you.
Do that and combine it with the roXiva RX1 brainwave entrainment (BWE) light machine, and the results will astound you.
Happy travels and be sure to read the next article ‘Breathwork and audio visual brainwave entrainment’. Find out what happens in the brain during breathwork, how to combine it with BWE, some favourite breathwork practices, and more science behind the practice also.