068: Intentional Breathing

I love learning about the brain.  While I have no educational background in this area, it is something that I am drawn to learning more about.

I’m so interested in how the brain works because one of the main ways I have been able to let go of things that have burdened me in the past and managing the events in life that could add to my current burdens, is by paying attention to how I think about these events.

Here are a few basics of what I’ve learned so far.

Did you know that your brain has two main jobs?

  1. To keep you safe
  2. To prove you’re right!

The Lymbic system in your brain is the part that keeps you safe. 

The limbic system is the part of the brain involved in our behavioral and emotional responses, especially when it comes to behaviors we need for survival, such as feeding, reproduction and caring for our children, and the fight or flight responses.  Sometimes these are referred to as the 4F’s of the Lymbic system:





That has helped me remember them a little better.

What I wanted to talk to you about today is that Fighting part of that brain that  keeps us safe.

Most of us are familiar with the Fight or Flight response to stress.

We recognize, usually in other people, when they fight back in response to something that threatens their safety or when others Flight or run, in response to the same threat.  There is also the freeze response, and a new one that has come on the scene, which is called Fawn.  I just shared an interview with Dara Tomasson last week and we talked about that.  If you missed it, you can listen to Episode 67 to catch up.

When we respond to what we perceive as a threat, our limbic system begins to prepare us to handle the situation.  It releases hormones that raise our blood pressure and heart rate which gives us more blood flow and a stronger rate of breath.

Now, remember, our brain was initially designed to respond to a threat like a tiger trying to eat us.  I’ve never had that kind of a threat but the mosquitoes that are a constant threat after the sun goes down where I live, might be considered in the same category.  I’ve been a blood doner to them many, many times.  BUT usually, our body is responding to other threats such as being fearful about an event or how you’ll respond to a difficult situation.  When I was preparing myself to do the Tarzan Swing in Costa Rica, believe me, my brain was sending adrenaline and epinephrine to prepare me for the threat!  My heart rate and blood pressure definitely increased.

Wanna know how I kept them under control so I didn’t Fight, Flight or Freeze?

#1:  I had practiced this exact situation in my mind over and over again in the months leading up to the jump.  I had a song picked out that I would sing in my head to keep me focused and calm.  I have never sung so loud and had no one else hear me!  But it helped.

#2: I focused on my breath.  Not just on what it wanted to do naturally but on how I wanted to control it.  I took long, deep breaths in through my nose, and filled up my lungs as full as they could go.  Then I held it for 5 seconds.  As I released the breath through my mouth, I let it out as slowly as I possibly could until there was none left. 

#3:  I had done my Looking Forward practice the day of the jump.  I had decided beforehand that I was going to sing that song in my head and that I would slow down my breathing.  If you haven’t done Camp Connection, this is one of the tools that go in the First Aid Kit I teach in that program.  That’s going to be available in all of my Workshops very soon.  Watch for that! 

#4:  I prayed.  I asked my Heavenly Father to help me to remember what I had practiced and that I wouldn’t FLIGHT!  I wanted to go through with this so I asked for His added strength.

And I repeated #1 and #2 and #4 over and over while I waited for my turn and as they hooked me up to all the pulleys and ropes.  And you know what?  It worked.

This is a HACK that will help you get out of fight or flight when your body begins to feel stressed or anxious.  But it’s not your natural response!  Remember, that is to FIGHT or to FLIGHT or to FREEZE!  We don’t need those reactions to the daily stresses of our lives today. 

Because it’s a natural response, we have to practice the hack.

I’ve been learning from a Positive Psychologist named Dr. Paul Jenkins.

Dr. Paul calls this practice “3 to 5”

Do 3-5 Reps, 3 times a day, for 5 days

This is how you teach it to your brain so it becomes familiar.

The more you practice it, the easier it will be to pull it up when you really need it.

Here’s how Dr. Paul teaches “3 to 5”

1: Breath in through the nose, really fill up your lungs.  Smell the flowers

2: Hold for 5 seconds.  Scan your body for any places of tension (this is the part I didn’t know about before I went to Costa Rica.  I think it would have added to the relaxing I needed to do)

3: Release breath through the mouth.  Blow it all out.  Blow out the candles

Here’s what you’ll NOTICE when you use it: 

You’ll feel calmer.

Your heartbeat slows

You feel more relaxed.

It’s telling your Lymbic system that there isn’t a problem here.

Stops the Fight/Flight response in its tracks!!

  • First you learn it. 
  • Then you practice it for the 5 days.
  • Then it becomes a tool that your brain will recognize when you use it to calm yourself when you get stressed.

There’s so much information about this that I’m hoping to do another episode on it.

If you want to learn more before then, I say go for it!

Knowing why your body is doing what it’s doing helps SO much!

I know that there is a lot of things in the world that cause us stress, anxiety and fear. 

I also know, that most of those things are built up in our bodies because of what we decide to think about them.

When we start paying attention to what we’re thinking and practice the way we will respond when our body begins to react… we CAN overcome most of these things.

They don’t need to be a burden.

We can remain in a place of peace.

Thanks for joining me here today and remember:

I see you.  I understand how hard you’re trying, and I’d like to help however I can.

Have a wonderful day and I’ll see you back here next week

068: Intentional Breathing