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Breathing, Trauma, Tightness In Chest & Personal Power - Breathing Development Sessions with Michael Grant White

by Alan Paul

I was a long term severally abused child, physically and emotionally. I am steadfastly determined to improve my sense of wholeness, to strengthen my self-esteem and self-love and spiritual connection with others. As a result of this commitment, I have spent much of the last 30 years looking for help with my breathing, which has always (since adolescence) felt tense and shallow and "locked up" and eventually led to me having to give up my chosen profession.

Over the years, I've tried every type of healing modality I could think of that might impact the experience of never being able to get a satisfying breath. I've tried medical doctors, chiropractic, various psychotherapies including Psychoanalytic, Gestalt, Short-Term Psychodynamic, and others. I've tried body-oriented therapies including Reichian, Alexander Technique, Rebirthing, Rolfing, Rosen Work, Biofeedback, Massage Therapy, Bioenergetics, Core Energetics, Primal, Reiki, Cranio-Sacral, etc.. I also studied Yoga and Tai Chi. For many of these modalities I tried more than one practitioner of that style. I also committed extensive periods of time to a number of these practitioners, many of whom I studied with for periods of 1 to 3 years, in hope of getting some help.

While some of these teachers and therapists were very smart and dedicated people who were able to help me move forward in one way or another, no one was able to help me find relief from my core complaint my inability to breathe satisfactorily.

I recently discovered the website of and opened a dialogue with Michael Grant White, the director of the site. Eventually, I decided to travel to North Carolina for a week, to work intensively with Mike.

Mike started by showing me how some simple adjustments to my posture could give me more space to breathe, eliminating tightness in my chest.  He then, using very specific rib/chest/shoulder/neck accessory breathing muscle release techniques went on to show me how to get the ribs and diaphragm moving so that the breath could expand into the increased space he had found for me in my posture. Some of the beliefs that I had held about what a coordinated breathing feels like, had to be corrected. Finally, there was a wonderful moment with Mike when everything "clicked" for me, and I was able to sing loudly and happily with no pain or straining, for the first time I can remember since early childhood. Mike was able to get me back to the same state again, and I eventually returned home with a set of exercises and "homework" to do to help continue the development. I was quite satisfied and happy with my lessons with Mike.

But the biggest changes became apparent when I returned home. Suddenly, conversations with associates had a different character, the movement of my ribs seemed huge compared to before I traveled to North Carolina. A close associate has commented that I seem noticeably more relaxed. My dreams are much more vivid (some pleasant, some not so pleasant). A low-grade depression seems to have lifted, and I suddenly find myself easily working long hours whereas that was difficult for months before my trip.

I've also noticed an odd and unexpected difference in my diet after years of complacency, I've begun eating salads every day and generally eating less overall. Food is still very enjoyable, but it seems less like entertainment and comfort to me, and more Somehow, breathing a little deeper and easier has, without any conscious effort to do so, made me more realistic and less emotionally clouded about diet.

Another thing that changed immediately after returning home, is my exercise routines. I generally swim every day and do a good bit of flexibility work every day. But after studying with Mike, I'm beginning to feel that there really is only one form of exercise breathing development. Everything else (swimming, stretching, weight-training, tai chi, running, you name it) is just a variation of breathing development.

For example, when I swim now, I'm very conscious of moving my limbs and ribs in such a way that the breath deepens with every stroke, so that the breath is more expansive and elastic when I get out of the pool than when I got in. This is quite different than the way I used to swim. I swam a lot harder than I swim now, and there was a general sense of triumph and temporary relaxation in that, but the relaxation didn't extend to my breath, which was tight and shallow when I was finished. Mike has assured me that I'll swim even stronger than before, if I'm careful to slowly increase the cardio demand such that the breathing apparatus remains relaxed. I always thought that the more cardio fitness, the better, as long as one doesn't have a heart attack. But I've learned that you can do quite a bit of subtle damage to the enjoyment of your life (and even your long-term health) by placing athletic demands on your body that are out of synch with your breathing abilities. So breathing comes first for me now, particularly since Mike's given me some tools with which to increase my breath.

I've noticed the same thing with my stretch routines. I no longer believe that there's such a thing as an "ankle stretch." Sure, I do the same ankle routines as before, but the way I do them is completely different. So there's no ankle stretches. Just "breath stretches" extended out to the ankles.

Mike also talked to me repeatedly about the ergonomics of my life in my easy chair, my work chair, my car seat. When Mike discussed these things, I listened and thought he made some good points worth considering. But since I've returned home, I'm beginning to feel that he was talking about something really important. I can see how slouching at my desk for a couple of hours leaves me with less breath, and that then induces a feeling of low self-esteem and depression. I guess I never noticed before because I didn't feel that I had all that much breath to protect. Now, with my breath deeper, I'm beginning to think seriously about how to improve my ergonomics (Mike gave me a number of good and inexpensive suggestions.)

Just now, as I sat and wrote this, I realized that I am indeed slouching and locking up my breath. I need to replace this desk chair with a more breathing-friendly chair (not a specialty item, just an inexpensive but different chair design than I'm currently using), in accordance with the suggestions that Mike gave me. So I got up and did about 10 minutes of my breathing exercises. Now, sitting back down to work, it's easier to work, the words are flowing with less effort, my self-esteem is higher, I feel more confident, life seems less like a burden. It's subtle, but tangible. No, it's not magic, my life isn't suddenly euphoric. But it's easier, less work, more filled with hope and promise, than it was 10 minutes ago. It makes me wonder how many of my internal conflicts and frustrations are nothing more than the effects of poor breathing habits.

Some people tell me let go of the past, grieve the losses, forgive those who hurt you, move on toward life. They mean well by encouraging me to fly, but they assume that I have the wings with which to fly. How can I grieve the past and move on, if my breathing is locked up so that I can't fully laugh, cry, or sing?

Mike has helped me see some of the possibilities for correcting my breathing pattern, and the results of that have been simple and immediate. It feels good to breathe better. And it's very reassuring to know that there are specific exercises I can do for my breath, that will help me to let go of the past and create the future. AP.    Recommended program

Hi Mike,
I have been sick all of my life with anxiety, shallow breathing, I actually felt, for lack of a better example, when you drink too much you have a hangover and I felt like that every day, I could never feel really rested.
I read in one of Prevention articles that how you breathe effects how you feel and I tried it back then but didn't get great results, so I had it in the back of my mind and when I put breathing in the search engine and found your website I was excited because I thought maybe I hadn't done it right.
I got your DVD 176 and I tried some of it but my breathing felt choppy like I was forcing it in a way then I read about letting go of the muscles and when I did that I would breathe longer and a lot easier, not quite as deep though, but I remind myself all the time because it's made such a difference in me, I just turned 60 and had suffered all my life.  I am now benefiting from my sleep, and can rest in between, so Thank you so much for the information  I'm sure that it saved my life. Thank you, 
Linda B

Dear Mike:

I just came across your website today; I find it fascinating. I'll give you a background of myself. I'm a 22 years old. I've been suffering from anxiety and depression for who knows how long. I've been going around in circles, trying to figure out what is wrong with me, and even started seeing a psychotherapist. I have thoughts running through my head all the time. I'm afraid of stuff I know I shouldn't be afraid of, even afraid of myself. I have no energy to go any place. I never relax, my heart is always pounding. I never have a restful night of sleep. I never feel like eating. I'm extremely underweight 6'/130lbs.
I came across the breathing website randomly, anxiously trying to figure out what's wrong with me. Just to see what would happen (out of desperation, really) I focused on my breathing, just following that animated picture you have in the newsletter. I did that from 1pm-5pm today at work, just focusing on my breathing. It made me real light headed at first, I felt like a balloon. My head got hot, my neck felt stiff. I would un-tense my muscles, and instead of limping, they filled up with air. By the end of the day, I felt completely docile, free of any thoughts; I never wanted to stay in one place like I did today. I didn't even get any work done, I just wanted to relax and enjoy this new feeling I've discovered. I haven't wanted to sit still in a long time.  AMEN
Just by reading the website, I can tell my breathing is completely wrong. This is what I've noticed.
My normal breathing is taking extremely short (half second) shallow breaths from the middle of the chest.
I have a desk job, so I sit all day, then go home and sit even more. I always slouch in my chair. Pour posture is definitely a problem for me.
When I think of anything or do anything, I hold my breath (or just forget to breathe; I don't think I ever even remember to breathe).
I sometimes I breathe through my mouth.
It hurts when I try to take a deep breathe. My rib cage is also deformed.
I monitored my breathing again on the way home. I found if I forgot to breathe, I became anxious again. I believe learning how to breathe correctly will really help me. I guess I'm a little anxious to get started. What program would your recommend I get started with? Money isn't too much of an object - I just want to start living my life normally.  Best to start with  You can get Better Breathing Exercise #2 later.  Another option is to come here to my office for a few days. But the video and manual should cause some good progress on you. mike

Relieving the Trauma of Mammography

As a believer in natural healing, I have managed to stay away from allopathic medicine for the last 30 years.  My main reason for stepping into the medical world again was to get a prescription for natural (bioidentical) hormones.  To rule out tumors, I was required to have a mammogram (my first).  As hard as the clinic tried to make this a pleasant experience (15 minute massage, lovely surroundings, caring staff), I felt thoroughly traumatized and came home exhausted. 

For the 6 days following the mammogram, I experienced a lot of soreness beneath each breast.  My side ribs were also very sore and hurt when I inhaled.  What was more distressing was my emotional and mental state.  I had just received my breathing kit from Michael Grant White and I called him to see which one of his breathing techniques would move me out of distress the fastest.  He instructed me in a special technique using a strap included with the 176 video.  I tried it two or three times and noticed a lessening of pain and distress each time.  Feeling encouraged, I used the technique 2 or 3 more times.  After 30 minutes or so, the physical pain was 95% gone and what is even more significant, my emotional and mental distress was gone.  In its place was a feeling of calm and much more room in my chest to breathe.  I continued to do more of the Better Breathing Exercise #2 and was pleasantly surprised to find a substantial improvement in my breathing after doing the exercise only one time. 


Carol P., San Diego,CA

From Mike: Massage therapists will tell you that pain from mammograms is quite common. There may be many women that can benefit from the above technique Carol refers to. As always check with your doctor first as broken ribs, heart stents, valve replacements, pacemakers, defibrillators, etc can confuse the issue of how to go about relieving chest wall breathing restrictions..  
A VERY FUNNY description of preparing for a mammogram

Eyesight Improved
From a recent Optimal Breathing School apprentice graduate who is also a natural vision trainer.  Dear Mike: I had a mother and 14 y.o. son come to see me yesterday for vision improvement, but for both the breathing needed most attention.  The son was only belly breathing, most likely due to a shoulder injury last year, and he felt things opening up when I used  a fundamental Optimal Breathing Development technique with him.  The mother was impressed with her son's improvement, she met you at Living Now last year, she even bought your video, but hadn't watched it yet...  I recommended she dig it out and pay attention ;-)  She was keen to try the breathing improvements too and while working with her breathing development her she was surprised that she could already read an extra line on the eye chart.  She started smiling, something she's had a hard time doing this past year.  She kept saying 'Wow', and noticed great expansion in her eae of breathing.  She visibly brightened up a lot in the time they were with me.  It feels great for me to be able to help people so much more now that I've got your first training under my belt.  Esther. OBDSA

High Blood Pressure

Dear Mike:
My high blood pressure that I have had for 10 years (160/95) is greatly improved (124/86 after working with the video and Better Breathing Exercise #1. 
Molly W.

Upper Respiratory
The upper respiratory track including the sinuses collect "debris" as well. Most people don't realize that the sinuses are huge and go way back into the head.

When they get full of bacteria the bacteria travels down the throat into the lungs. This causes or worsens speech problems and lung congestion. Because most illness is really stemming from a combination of factors (multifactoral); Unbalanced Dysfunctional Breathing can worsen it. I worked on a man’s breathing mechanics who started coughing and spitting up mucous for 45 minutes. I encouraged him to continue to do so. I had opened the lungs and they then allowed the back pressure to subside. This back pressure of inflammation in the lung area was causing the sinuses to stay plugged. His voice got clear and strong for the first time in 8 years. So did his sinuses.

Spasmodic Dysphonia
I am a 46 year old Speech and Language Pathologist who ironically acquired a severe voice dysfunction following a severe throat infection. As a professional, I had learned about this "rare, incurable neurological disease" called Spasmodic Dysphonia, which was resistant to treatment and devastated the lives of those afflicted. Fortunately, I knew there were professionals that did offer a cure (without the frequently used injections of Botox which offer temporary relief) and so I began my quest for restoring my voice. I first consulted Dr. Morton Cooper in Los Angeles. Dr. Cooper is also known as the Voice Doctor and has authored many articles and books. He has for years attested to the fact that many people, when they learn to use their voices in an optimum manner, can overcome the disabling effects of Spasmodic Dysphonia and he has many testimonials to his credit.

I worked with Dr. Cooper for several days and he gave me hope and set me on the right track with his simple exercises. I then consulted with Robert Grider of Minnesota Voice and Speech Clinic. I trusted Bob because he was a friend as well as a fellow SLP and he added some exercises to my regime, primarily use of a quiet, confidential voice and some other techniques to decrease the strain, struggle and hoarseness inherent in SD. Both Dr. Cooper and Bob had some very simple breathing exercises they prescribed, but I expressed concern to both that I felt that my breathing was "stuck" and shallow, and try as I might to "belly-breathe", I felt I needed something more. I took up Yoga and the deep breathing which did seem to help, but I continued my search. A search on the internet led me to Mike White’s Optimal Breathing Program website. I emailed Mike right away, and he was easily accessible and encouraging. I took an on-line quiz and found that I had what Mike calls Unbalanced Deep Breathing. I ordered Mike’s video and manual and realized that what I needed to develop was full, optimal breathing and that there were simple exercises to trigger the deep breathing reflex.

I met with Mike personally and did a three-hour private session during which he addressed my voice difficulties and performed some more in-depth work. I highly recommend Mike’s program, and since I believe that most if not all people with SD do not use their breath optimally, I feel it is of significant benefit with this population. Seven months after the onset of my SD, I have regained a fairly functional voice, and am presently working on increasing my loudness and further improving voice quality. Typically a direct voice rehabilitation program for SD can take 6-12 months or longer, but I definitely do not consider it an "incurable" disorder. Like the voice, so many of our body systems are linked to our breathing and Mike’s manual is quite comprehensive in both explaining the anatomy and physiology of breathing. Along with his video, Mike provides easy ways to achieve better breathing, and outlines multiple applications and benefits. Connie Pike, MA, CCC-SLP  Tampa, Florida

Larger Breasts?
Another client, name withheld, was asked if she had gotten breast augmentation. She had not. It was her posture that allowed them to show more.

Shortness of Breath, Dyslexia
After years of living short of breath I made a choice to get from  Orlando to North Carolina to visit Michael White to see if he could correct my ways of breathing.

On arrival I wanted to get straight in to he learning experience, telling Michael that my biggest concern is the escape of air when talking and the breathiness that has created unnecessary tension that I could and need to live with out. The tension that has created over the last few years is causing me to hold my breath, in due not living life to the fullest as my mind seems to wander instead of focusing on what is ahead of me.

After discussing the importance of “breath” which myself was greatly aware of due to my own ongoing training in exercises and activities such as, Yoga, balanced diet and meditation.

Throughout my two days visit we did a range of hands-on techniques and exercises,

After going over many details, I realized that the in breath is something that requires no self-conscious effort at all, but to unlearn the thoughtful ”conscious”  breath is a hard long way to conquer, but very much worth it.

Michael showed a way to a very relaxing ease of talking with a lot of tension release. To my surprise I felt that my body was at one, head connected to my rest of my body, it gives you internal strength.

Another exercise was a gentle, but firm press on my neck, relieving tension I noticed in an instance, eyes seemed to be more relaxed and my head felt that it was on correctly on my shoulder.

The counting numbers exercises was a baseline and marking progress exercise to see how fast air escapes. My first count was 20. Which is something I had to work on. After a while worked my way up to the 50, then 65.

Having been told of my Dyslexia over the past years I was accustomed to it and placed this in the back of my brain. When Michael asked me to say out loud the alphabet I mentioned that I was never able to speak it out correctly, partly due my Dyslexia. Within 10 minutes I was saying it out loud, accurately repeated and for the rest of my life. Perhaps I gave up on it a long time a go, it is a big mental plus.

One exercise showed me how much I was off the average target of rib expansion, comparing mine with Michael’s; it was about a 200% difference in Michael’s favor. That is my target.

All in all, it was very interesting visit; with a lot of information to take home, it was not a quick fix as I hoped for. But the information given to me makes me able to set my self-free, it is up to me and I have the right tools to get there. I’ve seen what can be done and it needs to be done.  Steven. Harberts     Recommended Program

What inspired you to recommend this site?
1. I am inspired by new ideas and new concepts -i believe that breathing right is one of the most important things in staying healthy -your web site is filled with important and logical information-i was mostly interested in negative ionization .it makes perfect sense on what your saying about breathing properly-a lot of people (including myself) are starting to look for answers in a non traditional way. i always believe that the best way is the simplest, straightforward approach. the way that makes the most sense -just breathing right .   Justin S. 

2. What inspired me to recommend this site?
Because of my responsibility for a service of physical therapy, more specific in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation in a comprehensive hospital setting, I regularly have students for training periods who are very interested in different aspects of pulmonary evolution and the related quality of life.  
With the best regards,
Jan B. RPT

I am an Licensed Massage Therapist in Florida.  All through school and since I have been searching for something to specialize in that will make a difference to those I touch.  
wife, also and LMT, was speaking to a peer about the seminars that she took and which one of them most benefited her, she replied "OPTIMAL BREATHING" by Mike White.  
So my wife and I looked up the website and researched the whole site.  As I read through the many links and pages, I knew I was onto something.  I called Mike and arranged for my wife and I to take the intensive course. I thought this course would bring more of a balanced circle of my breathing techniques since I have already learned the Yoga Breath and many other techniques of breathing.  
What faScinated me most about Mike's work was the MECHANICAL part of my breathing.  How can anyone improve breathing by any other means UNLESS one can begin by breathing correctly to BEGIN WITH.  To re-set the internal mechanism and breathe correctly, to set a new foundation to breathing is the ONLY way to get more out of other types of breathing.  Also, to add this technique to my practice appeared beneficial.  It occurred to me that this component of health care was (and still is) missing. Remember the days when you went to the doctor and they examined you in a gown, with nothing on underneath it?  They checked everything, eyes, ears, nose, throat, heart rate and even that cold stethoscope up against your chest and actually listened to you breath!  Those days are gone, and the medical world is missing the boat big time on not checking the respirations of their patients.  BREATH IS LIFE...Correct breathing is living that life more fully, enthusiastically, vitally with mobility and longevity.  Mike's course gives you that and much more.  Taking fuller, richer, deeper breaths with pauses in between the exhale and inhale most definitely provides more energy, stamina and ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) for the body to function more peacefully with less effort. Since returning home, I 
have incorporated these techniques into my daily living with positive results.  I am making vital decisions in my business more quickly and efficiently.
No more irritability (my wife likes that part) I have sustained energy, even with 12-14 hour days.  I just plain KNOW that I am healthier. Also, I am integrating these techniques into my practice with clients and getting very positive results.  Anyone wondering if they should or should not invest the time and money into this program only need ask themselves one question "To BREATHE or not to BREATHE?"  

This course is worth every dime and then some.  I will be taking the advanced courses and absorb more information to further my quest to genuinely make a difference in the health care system as I withdraw from the "SICK CARE" system currently in place.

Dennis L. Bradley, LMT  Jacksonville, FL  Recommended Program

Raw Foods Chef

My name is Tanya Tierra and I have always had a problem with shortness of breath.  I eat a healthy diet, 100% raw for the past 4 years and vegetarian for almost 30 years but I still couldn't climb up the hills without huffing and puffing while my friend, who smokes, had no problem. 

I met Mike White at the Raw Food Festival in Portland Oregon last year and then again at Indian Hot Springs at Charlie Mort's raw food retreat.   Mike White gave me a treatment that broke loose something inside of me.  I felt more space to breathe in.  I felt I could project my voice more fully.  This was with only one treatment and I know if I could receive more I could experience more.  I noticed something else about breathing more fully.  I felt I let go of an emotional block that held me back from speaking up for myself.   I am continuing to do the exercises with the strap and CDs and I keep improving but I really liked the treatment I got with Mike.

Success From Down Under
It was nice receiving your encouraging mail.  Yes, after working with the video 176 I am already experiencing breathing getting stronger, bigger, easier, fuller, smoother and better coordinated.  I do feel stronger and more clear headed, relaxed and energetic.  I had a house full when my children from the US and Australia visited me for two weeks.  All I did was carry out my breathing exercises in between my chores and still after they have left.  And Gosh how energized I am feeling and happy too. Love, Cynthia

Dear Mike,

I'm a professional breathing teacher myself, age 64. In 1979 I discovered Rebirthing and learned the technique with Leonard Orr in the States. But since I have an solid psychotherapeutic background  (Psychoanalysis, Gestalt, Bioenergetic, Familytherapy, New Identity Process [Casriel], Encounter etc.) and a deep spiritual orientation (Sri Aurobindo, Ramana Maharshi) I transformed Ribirthing into ?PranaEnergetic?, i.e. teaching people to breathe fully and effortlessly by dissolving their deep rooted breathing obsticles, mostly reaching back to birth, and connecting them to their true being.

You do a wonderful work. I appreciate your profound knowledge and how diligently you distribute it. Thank you very much. Even professionals can learn  quite lot from you. I already have ordered your breathing course.

Love and peace   Henner Ritter  Germany

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cancer, mental illness, or recent abdominal or chest surgery, you should consult your health professional before undertaking these practices.