How breathing can unlock your best ideas, transform your relationships and make you an impactful teacher and/or leader.
Ok, so today was a blast! I got to interview for my podcast Paul Zak, a researcher, an entrepreneur, the author of “The Moral Molecule: How Trust Works", "Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies" and his latest book "Immersion: The Science of the Extraordinary and the Source of Happiness".
I’ll definitely share more ideas as the podcast comes out but today I’d love to share what I got to think of after the podcast about breathing and how it’s an ultimate hack to so many great outcomes in our personal and professional lives! At this point, after reading all the latest books from scientists who apply neuroscience to different domains, things really start to click and connect in my mind in variations that none of the original authors thought of! It’s like one AHA after another! Love it!
Back to breathing and novel ideas I’ve just thought of as very powerful applications of one simple breathing technique.
I’m talking about exhale-focused breathing I demonstrate here and here.
1. HOW BREATHING IS THE KEY TO INNOVATION AND YOUR BEST CREATIVE IDEAS
The thing is anxious, stressed, and threatened brain shuts down the prefrontal cortex and many other areas of the brain and body that aren’t related to immediate survival like digestion or innovation and creativity. The brain is hyper-focused on survival, on self-protection, on dedicating all the resources to self-preservation - not venturing out and seizing novel opportunities. That’s not how innovation or learning or creativity happen. Not really.
We are most creative (studies show) when we aren’t under pressure and deadlines. We need to be more relaxed for creativity to come out to play.
And what’s the best way to get into rest and digest aka relaxed mode, that's perfect for creative juices to flow?
What’s the most reliable tool that works for all humans?
That works every time?
Breathing! Exhale-focused breathing!
Do 3-6 breath cycles and you have a chance to unlock your mind for lateral, out-of-the-box, creative thinking.
2. HOW BREATHING CREATES BEAUTIFUL CONNECTIONS AND DEEPER RELATIONSHIPS
As I was talking to Paul, I asked at some point, as we were talking about “emotional fitness”, “Paul, why do you think many people don’t open up that easily in relationships and different interactions?”, to which he replied that one of the major reasons, people simply don’t feel safe, they feel threatened, stressed, anxious.
And what’s the best way to change that in yourself and other people?
Exhale-focused breathing before your interactions. It makes you and your partner(s) feel safer. The result - open, fluid, trustful communication, that’s deep, meaningful and trasnformative.
3. HOW BREATHING MAKES YOU AN IMPACTFUL TEACHER OR/AND LEADER
I read it in Paul’s book, Immersion, I read it in Friederike Fabritius' book “The Brain-Friendly Workplace: Why Talented People Quit and How to Get Them to Stay", I read it in a couple of other books on facilitating breakthrough collaborations - that the brain doesn’t learn or pay attention when chronically stressed, anxious, not present, distracted. What do we do to address all these obstacles to learning and influence, and persuasion? Exhale-focused breathing! You guessed it right!
What do Paul, Friederike and others recommend?
Start your class, your meeting, your public talk, your presentation - maybe like I did here, with breathing! You’ll change your state, you’ll change the state of learners, of your audience, you'll synchronize your brains' waves and heartbeats, and you’ll put yourself and your audience in the ideal state to learn and to be transformed by the experience - oxytocin, bonding, and relaxed state of body and mind. That’s the staging for an optimal transformational experience.
That’s about it, a summary of AHA moments from one day in a Brain Coach’ life.
Breathe guys! It’ll change you and the world around you!