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Waiting To Inhale

 The Power of Breath for Leading Change Through Disruption

If you had any idea how many people and situations are “waiting” for you to learn to breathe deeply, you’d be shocked.

You might even say they’re “waiting, with baited breath.”

This doesn’t mean, literally, that there is a line of people somewhere depriving their lungs of oxygen. But it could be a key reason people in your organisation walk around on eggshells when you’re in the office.

Ironically enough, the reason these people “can’t” breathe is because you choose not to.

Leadership is an enormously mental game. It requires both the ability to focus on a specific task, and view and judge the entire field simultaneously.

Like a fly-half in rugby reading the clock, an opponent’s defensive lineup and making calculations in nanoseconds, your mind has to be well-rested, oxygenated and clear as a bell. Late in the second half, this becomes even more difficult, as the contest wears on and players expend their energy going back and forth.

We’ve found this true in business, particularly under constant disruption. The natural advantage for the CEO, against the fly-half, is the lack of physical exertion required. The downside is, people’s lives and livelihoods can go pear-shaped if you make the wrong call.

Of all the lessons the athletic world can offer executives, learning to master breath control is among its very finest. For reasons both obvious and hidden. Fundamental as breathing is to life, you’d think we’d understand that to breathe deeper and longer … also means to live deeper and longer.

But all you need do is pay attention for thirty seconds to how you breathe, to know that most people automatically breathe shallow. Moreover, a lack of appreciation for the power of our breath is connected to a host of issues with physical and mental health, such as body image.

In view of this, Unitive assembled a course on our online education platform that helps you learn to breathe like a champion.

 

Why Breathing Deeply is an Executive’s Best Friend

As we shared last time, mindset is multi-faceted. It isn’t simply cognitive, but stems from five different functions of the entire human person. The same is true for this practise – when you breathe, you oxygenate more than your lungs.

Inhaling and exhaling deeply, over four seconds each, nourishes your entire body with neurological feelings and chemicals of well-being. Particularly in combination with yoga, deep breathing restores and increases healthy blood flow to tired muscles.

The deep relaxation of breath also alters your linguistic and social interaction. From a relaxed, unhurried place, you can listen a lot more. When you do speak, you don’t feel the need to “blurt things out” or interrupt. If you haven’t tried it, you’d be amazed at the difference in quality of conversation when you’re breathing peacefully, versus during hyperventilation.

Interestingly, grounding oneself through deep breath also exerts an unseen force on cultural conditioning. It puts the practitioner in such a deep state of centredness that the average person can feel off-balance when interacting with them. Don’t be surprised, if you adopt this habit, that it rubs some people the wrong way and they don’t know why.

Your mind, body and spirit “talk” to each other. Chemical and hormonal messengers exchange information with your nervous system, and they begin to reinforce each other cooperatively. Perhaps most important, your brain itself benefits from ample oxygen, just like a microchip after its files and processes backlog is cleared.

Without having interviewed any fly-halves, we’d make an educated guess they learn a modified version of this as part of their practise fundamentals. We certainly see the difference in executives who learn it on the Unitive online education platform.

How and When to Concentrate on Breath

In certain individual cases, we’ve observed that people with medical conditions related to trauma don’t do this well. If you have respiratory issues that exacerbate from breath work, it’s wise to first consult your GP or respiratory therapist.

Barring those conditions, we struggle to find an instance where grounding yourself through breath control isn’t helpful. Your morning routine, which sets the tone for your day, should be saturated with it.

Studies continue through to today on the fascinating physical feats of Wim Hof, a Dutch extreme athlete known for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures. In his e-book, The Wim Hof Method, he details the exploration of his physiology and mental capacity, a great deal of which he does through controlled, deep breathing and mindset.

As a result, Hof has set nearly 20 world records, which include the world’s longest ice bath; he’s climbed snowy peaks wearing only a pair of shorts, and run marathons around the polar circle. His research and practises indicate that the autonomic nervous system can be influenced, giving him the power to “persuade” his body not to respond as it normally does to certain stimuli.

Now, without even taking one second to investigate Hof’s discoveries … would you not agree that taking 60 seconds to breathe deeply before a board meeting could have a positive influence on your leadership?

This is to say nothing of steering your organisation through a massive change, moment by moment. Change is as common to us as breath, yet how often do we take the former as a serious matter, and the latter for granted?

Our default nature seems to prefer hyperventilating. While we aren’t here to change our nature, we do possess an enormous potential to become a fuller expression of it. Conscious control of breath is a critical skill to propel yourself beyond your current expression – and the alternative always brings some degree of entropy.

 

How and When to Concentrate on Breath

In certain individual cases, we’ve observed that people with medical conditions related to trauma don’t do this well. If you have respiratory issues that exacerbate from breath work, it’s wise to first consult your GP or respiratory therapist.

Barring those conditions, we struggle to find an instance where grounding yourself through breath control isn’t helpful. Your morning routine, which sets the tone for your day, should be saturated with it.

Studies continue through to today on the fascinating physical feats of Wim Hof, a Dutch extreme athlete known for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures. In his e-book, The Wim Hof Method, he details the exploration of his physiology and mental capacity, a great deal of which he does through controlled, deep breathing and mindset.

As a result, Hof has set nearly 20 world records, which include the world’s longest ice bath; he’s climbed snowy peaks wearing only a pair of shorts, and run marathons around the polar circle. His research and practises indicate that the autonomic nervous system can be influenced, giving him the power to “persuade” his body not to respond as it normally does to certain stimuli.

Now, without even taking one second to investigate Hof’s discoveries … would you not agree that taking 60 seconds to breathe deeply before a board meeting could have a positive influence on your leadership?

This is to say nothing of steering your organisation through a massive change, moment by moment. Change is as common to us as breath, yet how often do we take the former as a serious matter, and the latter for granted?

Our default nature seems to prefer hyperventilating. While we aren’t here to change our nature, we do possess an enormous potential to become a fuller expression of it. Conscious control of breath is a critical skill to propel yourself beyond your current expression – and the alternative always brings some degree of entropy.

 

How and When to Concentrate on Breath

In certain individual cases, we’ve observed that people with medical conditions related to trauma don’t do this well. If you have respiratory issues that exacerbate from breath work, it’s wise to first consult your GP or respiratory therapist.

Barring those conditions, we struggle to find an instance where grounding yourself through breath control isn’t helpful. Your morning routine, which sets the tone for your day, should be saturated with it.

Studies continue through to today on the fascinating physical feats of Wim Hof, a Dutch extreme athlete known for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures. In his e-book, The Wim Hof Method, he details the exploration of his physiology and mental capacity, a great deal of which he does through controlled, deep breathing and mindset.

As a result, Hof has set nearly 20 world records, which include the world’s longest ice bath; he’s climbed snowy peaks wearing only a pair of shorts, and run marathons around the polar circle. His research and practises indicate that the autonomic nervous system can be influenced, giving him the power to “persuade” his body not to respond as it normally does to certain stimuli.

Now, without even taking one second to investigate Hof’s discoveries … would you not agree that taking 60 seconds to breathe deeply before a board meeting could have a positive influence on your leadership?

This is to say nothing of steering your organisation through a massive change, moment by moment. Change is as common to us as breath, yet how often do we take the former as a serious matter, and the latter for granted?

Our default nature seems to prefer hyperventilating. While we aren’t here to change our nature, we do possess an enormous potential to become a fuller expression of it. Conscious control of breath is a critical skill to propel yourself beyond your current expression – and the alternative always brings some degree of entropy.