Catching your breath: Meditation and breathing tools for upleveling your life
Last weekend I was at a dietitian mastermind business retreat in San Diego. Our coach set up a yoga practice on the beach that was unlike any other yoga practice with a teacher and breath coach named Luke. He took us through a series of breathing patterns at the end of yoga in a sequence called the Wim Hof technique. No, it was not some kind of weird chanting or “oohh’ing” at all. But it was a lung workout.
Some of you could be rolling your eyes, but I encourage you to keep an open mind as we talk breath a little today. I attribute intentional breathing to saving my postpartum body (no joke) actually and helping me get twice the benefit out of any exercise.
On this week’s episode of The Less Stressed Life podcast, I interview Pat Flynn. If you don’t know Pat, he’s kind of a big deal. He has a top-rated business podcast Smart Passive Income, which has been featured in the NY Times and Forbes and is a best-selling author and advisor for at least 30 major companies.
But I didn’t really talk to him about any of that in this week’s episode.
I was more interested in his story about the couch (found out after the fact it's a chair, but who is counting the details) he has in his office for meditation. I saw him speak last year at a conference where he showed images of his office set up, and the meditation couch/chair really caught my eye.
“Saving a spot in your office primarily for meditation??? Huh?" There must be something more to this.
I don’t know about you, but most of us need to hear about a concept about 15x before we think it’s a good idea. No doubt I’ve heard from a great number of people about the power of meditation. It seems all uber-successful people are doing it, from Tim Ferris to Oprah. And now Pat Flynn.
Naturally, I had to know more.
So we talk about all of that and more in this week’s episode.
One of the things Pat mentions is starting with a meditation device, called a Muse headband. It’s a type of neurofeedback trainer to help get someone that might not be able to sit and meditate on the first try a chance to get in the zone and practice. You get rewards as your brain relaxes.
Now, I have some VERY well respected colleagues that sing praises of HeartMath.
Their website is chock full of peer-reviewed research showing its efficacy in hospitals, workplace settings, and beyond.
But I always struggle to describe it.
Physically, it’s a small device with a cord that clips to your earlobe. It coaches you through breathing exercises with the goal of finding “coherence”.
Coherence is the “cooperative alignment between the heart, mind, and emotions and can be measured by looking at changes in our heart rhythms, heart rate variability analysis (HRV).”
HRV is a measure of the autonomic nervous system and can be a reflection of how our body is aging. Basically, incoherence or dissonance in heart rhythm patterns is associated with a body older than our actual age.
In essence, the way we handle emotions and stress can make us older than we are.
I’ve studied a variety of alternative forms of medicine and even energy medicine over the last 10 years or so before landing on the blood work and data I collect now. I’ve seen machines that measure heart rate variability in the past and had my own measured.
But let’s back up a minute and start from the top.
We all know the heart is an organ responsible for our life, pumping blood throughout our bodies. It also processes information by sending important signals to the brain and rest of the body. While I’m a huge proponent of nutrition as a foundation to ANYTHING, I know enough to always acknowledge the emotional aspect of health as well.
And there’s an emotional aspect to heart. Most of us don’t pay attention to how we are breathing. So when we try it for the first time it can feel awkward and we don’t like awkward. Sometimes you have to push past the point of uncomfortable to find a breakthrough.
Heart-focused breathing is found to create balance, harmony, and improve mental function, focus and decision making.
Most people that come into my (virtual) office struggle with brain fog, feeling like a ping-pong ball in life and just in general, harried. For those with digestive and autoimmune issues, stress and worry almost unanimously make the situation worse. Sometimes it’s even the biggest driver.
I’m not immune to this either. Meditation has evaded and alluded me for a while.
Call it whatever you want—meditation, heart-focused breathing, coherence—it’s all related to regenerating our emotions.
And I’m pursuing it.
I bought myself a HeartMath device and several to “check out” to clients recently.
What about you? Is this a new concept? Have you tried to apply it in the past? Do you have tips to share? Or are you interested now?
Please share below and let me know!
And head over to the podcast and listen to Pat Flynn talk about how his meditation practice has changed his life to foster even more success.
Until next time....
Your banana donning dietitian,
Here's a photo of the couch I was confused about, next to the chair. I'm still picking out a meditation couch for my office. ;) Off to Target.com. Hopefully, someone will check in with me to see if I actually find one.
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