"You are what you eat and you be how your breathe."
Gary Hagman, master bodyworker, San Francisco.
I saw a poster many years ago that said it all.
"To do is to be" Sartre, "To be is to do" Santayana
then it would follow to "Do be do be do". ...............Sinatra.
Clever and funny yes but deeply insightful as well. The key is balance between the two.
A famous native American whose name escapes me at the moment said that "If white man continues in the direction he is going he will end up merely surviving instead of living."
I believe many are there already.
The secret of life the way I see is it to create energy and then properly manage it. Breathing is your primary energy source.
Getting things done (doing) or our accomplishments are often the source of richness in life. Satisfaction often stems from achieving a goal and being acknowledged by self and others.
"Being" is a lot about present time and savoring the moment. The being in the here and now that Ram Dass, Eckhard Tole and Dennis Lewis talk about. "Being peace" that Thich Nhat Han talks about is even more of that.
Many doers are awesome in their accomplishments and role models for the best that can be done. It seems that many doers suffer from excessive stress and being out of touch with themselves and others; living other's lives or values; over the top accomplishments at the expense of savoring and sensing deep, healthy satisfaction and nurturing relationships. They are often "surviving" instead of living. Simply stated many do not take the time to breathe and just be.
To me, living is more about being and doing so that doing supports being and being supports doing; do be do be do. Our society's wide swinging pendulum way of living seems stuck on the doing (survival) side with too little regard for the being side. Quantity instead of quality.
The key to me is balance. The text and animations below will hopefully make it more clear how your breathing enters into the equation of who you are, what you do and ways you would rather be or not be.
The many Ways DEEPER BREATHING is a good thing or a bad thing.
Working with your breathing is the main way you can enter into the inner world of your autonomic (or "automatic") body functions and systems to influence them for improved self-maintenance, repair and body-mind-spirit rebalancing...
One of the key factors as to why and how optimizing your breathing enhances your health and vitality is through its interplay with the Autonomic Nervous System's (ANS) stimulating chest breathing or calming belly breathing functions including the balance between the two.
Keep in mind that the phrase "belly breathing" does not give us enough information to breathe deeper and properly. We should see and feel expansion in the full 360 degrees around the lower torso -- in the belly, sides and lower back as well.
Basically, each extreme of breathing is either strictly stimulating (left side or "upper chest" of the below see saw) or strictly calming (right side or "belly" of the see saw). But there is never an ONLY of either. It is always a mixture of the two albeit sometimes way too one direction or over stimulation (overcharged-reactive instead of counter active ) or over-relaxation-undercharged-lethargic-passive-unaware. Again, the key is the balance between the two extremes.
The Parasympathetic side has buzzwords like, "rest, digest, heal" but to us it is more about grounding, calming when energized, even when the sympathetic is at its peak, or recovering when resting. These responses can be influenced by breathing more diaphragmatically ala lower in the body, where the lower torso, pelvis, legs and feet are much more directly or indirectly involved via their support. This stabilized breathing foundation helps sustain the body's calming responses, including reducing or eliminating stress, strengthening courage and creativity under fire or "walking calmly through the gates of hell".
The buzzwords most often used for sympathetic activation are, "fear, fight or flight." We see many other choices like "freeze, fake it, faint, fumble, mumble or stumble" -- and even with enough PNS energy to balance it, "fun." Certain types of fun sometimes called "adrenaline rushes", can arise from the safely balanced mix of sympathetic enervation and parasympathetic expansiveness and calming.
The sympathetic side is often typically a reaction to stressors, whether they are from within or outside. This internal stress reaction can be triggered also by too rapid or too high breathing in the chest (think anxiety, asthma or phobias).
We generally recommend a 70% parasympathetic to 30% sympathetic ratio so that more than twice of the foundation and strength of our inhalation happens in the lower torso-to feet area, with lesser happening in the higher chest. But the chest volume must be as large as possible to support the longevity factor that depends on breathing volume.
We've created this showing the movement of the "see saw" as somewhat slower on the parasympathetic side, that's the right side with the blue color. And it's faster on the sympathetic side. This illustrates the fact that one side has a slowing-down calming effect, while the other has a faster, more alerting, "fight-or-flight" excitement kind of effect on the nervous system. The SNS side actually speeds up your heart rate while the PNS slows it down.
On the right or parasympathetic side, this might represent an almost comatose state of non-reactivity. This would also be true (taken to an extreme that is to be avoided) of the ability of our own BREATHING to influence our nervous system, and thereby, all of the organs and systems of the body (for good or for ill).
To some this looks like hyperventilation or something bad. I call this deep PNS dominant breathing HYPER-INHALATION as it is a good thing and MORE FROM A WELLNESS perspective. Breath is life. I do not want people to be afraid of breathing more.
Elevated states of excitement as in sports, or when someone is performing on stage, for example, can be beneficial. Negative stimulation comes from things like the giving or taking in of fear or anger, or even drugs that "dumb down" the body's responses.
Though it is possible to train yourself to safely do that for a while, you probably wouldn't want to externally stimulate negative bodily states by forcefully high chest over-breathing for very long. However, doing extra breathing in the LOWER extremities can help you calm down from most any stressful situation, as well as energize and recover from that and will even help you prepare for sports or performing, as well as stimulate more of the creative alpha brain wave state.
What are some of our INTERNAL stimulators? Well, your overall state of health has a big influence... Your relative state of oxygenation and detoxification. Cells that are clogged with toxins, and chronically starved for the right nutrients, and for oxygen, are very unhappy and stressed out cells indeed! They will be communicating that to you in all kinds of ways... pain, inflammation... even a vague sense of unease, anxiety, fatigue or disease... are you listening here?
Dennis Lewis, Ekard Tole and Ram Dass talk about staying present and the power of now. For some this is a huge challenge, as always being ahead or behind ourselves may add stress. On the good side, we can be stimulated (or calmed) by pleasant music, a good conversation, and by positive thoughts and feelings... AND as we've pointed out, the BREATHING will influence all of this, either for good or bad. Breathing optimally will help you keep this balancing act within healthy manageable ranges...
While the deepest breathing levels including more intense states of stimulation may be too much for kids, under certain safe circumstances, even phenomenal self healing and personal growth results can be achieved with adults. Processes such as Integral Breathwork, Spiritual Breathwork or Transitions Breathwork, WholeBody consciousness, or more intense levels of sports such as extreme skiing, bungee jumping, sky diving, horse or auto racing, or even in public speaking or singing, all require deep yet balanced breathing, mental focus and overall improved energy management. I prefer the 8-3 OB Window as the optimal range of breathing depth for this process.
A warning here about factors like emotions, detoxification inviting fatigue, confusion or feeling groggy or sleepy and the release of recreational and prescription drugs. These are huge issues for some. Many who breathe more than they are accustomed to experience energy management that becomes difficult to impossible. With proper deeper breathing for an extended period of time, most negative emotions can be breathed through and resolved; they will lose their grip on you. This is akin to taking a walk or run if you feel depressed, but even the run or walk may not be enough for adequate resolution. But notice I said properly. Some psychotherapists suspect the run and “runner’s high” may be muffling or sublimating various negative emotions while allowing them to “come out crooked” in other parts of their life. This is a bioenergetic study in itself and not within the scope of this program.
In the area of detox I personally witnessed a man exhaling ether that he had acquired 30 years prior during a surgery. It had remained lodged in his tissues. The breath seems to want to cleanse and integrate the body mind and spirit but sometimes it is a little to very scary as the energy does its cleansing work. When some breathe more they want to sleep so a good pattern might be to just allow that. Do the breathing then take a nap. As you breathe more and still feel out of sorts after doing any of our techniques or exercises you might want to consider professional guidance. I would suggest a non drug approach but the final decision remains with you Several liver-gallbladder cleanses might be in order.
So we would say that the deep breathing level -- the third phase in this animation -- represents the balance of energizing and calming. Even with high levels of sympathetic activity. You will be emptying, filling and energetically balancing at optimal levels. You'll be able to withstand good levels of excitement, handle a reasonable amount of stress, and enjoy good, calming influences, without going to extremes. Your cells will be happier because of better oxygenation and detoxification. Your whole life can be easier, better and happier.
The parasympathetic nervous system, mostly the sacral plexus, is outlined per the following Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) diagram. Get somewhat familiar with this diagram just to see how many organs are directly influenced by the way we breathe. Just view this with the idea that the way you breathe greatly influences all this and do not get side tracked trying to learn all about this part. It is just to emphasize the damage or aid one can effect with bad or good breathing patterns.
Develop your breathing now See also Superman Syndrome