Article by Steve Heath, MHIB Director & Founder
It was 7 years ago, and I was going through a particularly difficult time with high levels of anxiety and consistent low moods to the point where it was affecting my daily life. With productivity and energy levels at an all-time low, I was just managing to run my business from day to day. Anything else was a struggle, including staying in touch with family and friends.
I worked mainly from home, so it was easy to remain in a bubble going through the motions, doing my best to put mental and emotional discomfort to one side and get on with what needed to be done. It wasn’t long before I lost all motivation and started to question everything.
Am I happy in my job? Should I move home? Will finding a partner make me happy? All the time looking outwards to see what I could change to make things better.
Little did I know that my search would end in the discovery of something so powerful and yet so simple. The answer to clarity of mind, better concentration, a sense of contentment and a way to regulate mood was right under my nose all along.
What I discovered was ‘conscious controlled breathing’ and my early experiments lifted my spirits so much I wanted to share it with anyone who would listen. Since then I have become fascinated with the field of conscious breathing, and I enjoy nothing more than to study (and experiment with) ancient and modern breathing techniques, constantly testing their effects in my own life and the lives of my clients.
Conscious Controlled Breathing
What I have come to realise is that by changing my physiology (in this case controlling my breathing) I can regulate mood, build mental and physical energy, boost resilience, become more productive and reduce stress and anxiety for a happier, healthier life.
What’s more, I have discovered that conscious controlled breathing helps me ‘in the moment’ to boost energy, clear my mind and deal with high-pressure situations where stress levels can run high. Perfect for the stresses and strains that life and the world of work throws at us on a daily basis.
I truly believe that learning to breathe in a way which is supportive, nourishing and empowering leads to an evolved and resilient state of being. One in which the obstacles which are thrown in our way can be navigated as waves in the sea rather than walls to crash through.
This is a path that (with gentle, respectful and gradual practice) can result in the sort of state of mind that athletes, artists, great leaders and masterful musicians experience when they are in a state of ‘flow’.
Imagine experiencing flow more of the time, what would that do for you and your business?
Here is one of my favourite breathing techniques that helps me move from a state of unease and overwhelm to a calm clear focus. It’s called 'heart coherence breathing’ and by following the steps below you can try it out for yourself.
Heart Coherence Breathing
- Sit in a chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor.
- Breath rhythmically and evenly through your nose, counting five seconds as you inhale and five seconds as you exhale.
- While you are breathing, gently focus on the sensation of air coming in and out of your body through your nostrils.
- Gradually move your attention to your chest and imagine breathing from that area.
- When your attention is on your chest area bring someone to mind who you would like to show appreciation for in your life (it could be a parent, a friend, partner, or even a pet).
- All the while keeping your attention on your chest area - end the breathing practice by giving that same appreciation to yourself.
Remember if you notice your thoughts wandering and you become distracted, it's ok - that’s totally normal and you are not doing it wrong. When your mind wanders all you have to do is gently bring your attention back to your chest as you imagine breathing in and out from that area.
I recommend that you practice this technique once a day for seven days. Start off sitting for two minutes and play with extending the time for up to five minutes as you progress. Practising more than once a day (perhaps once in the morning and again in the evening) will increase the effects. Review after seven days by asking yourself - how am I feeling now? what difference has conscious breathing made for me?
I hope you enjoyed the practice, if you would like any more information about how conscious controlled breathing for the modern world can help you and your business, then I would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Heath, Director, MHIB