Dear Why Team member,
I hope this weeks message finds you well.
This week we ask:
Why Breathe on Purpose?
It seems life often has to work particularly hard to get my attention; I am grateful for its persistence.
While I have written on breath-focused-meditation in the past and how it has served me, time and again, I allow the busyness of life to distract me from the discipline. But just this past week, I had the pleasure of meeting a man in his 80’s who beat terminal cancer in his 30’s. Since then, he became a Bio-Chemist and has dedicated his life to educating and saving others, shares his work at practically no cost and his insights are based on over 40 years of real-life experience and dedication to understanding the human body.
It was particularly helpful when his primary recommendation to me was intentional breathing. He had plenty of other things for me to work on and tweak, but the breathing he said, it’s of utmost importance.
He said my battery is low and that I keep jump-starting it, rather than re-charging it.
Does that sound familiar?
I have experienced burn-out a number of times throughout my life; what got me back on track? Getting back to discipline, I found that it is far more productive and certainly healthier to maintain health disciplines alongside work disciplines.
The Bio-Chemist shared with me a well-known axiom:
Energy In, Energy Out.
He said we cannot get more out if we don’t put more in. Like many of you, I thought a healthy diet, exercise and sleep suffices but to my dismay, he said food accounts for only about 5% of our energy and that the primary sources of our vitality and energy come from Breathing, Rest and Water.
It is counterintuitive to think that time invested to intentionally breathe along with getting more sleep would result in more accomplishment, but I am reminded of the quote from Abraham Lincoln who said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”
Here is essentially what the Bio-Chemist shared with me:
The human body can live only minutes without oxygen. Regarding sleep, he said try functioning after just one or two nights without sleep. He then said we can go a few days without water before our organs dry up - because we’re made up of about 95% water, but we can go weeks without food, so where does the body primarily derive its energy and vitality?
Breathing accounts for 56%, Rest 24%, Water 15%, and Food 5%.
Wow, 56% of our energy comes from breathing!
Believe it or not, it does make sense when we consider the body’s primary necessities. This, of course, was all I needed to hear to up the importance of breathing in my life. Shallow breathing signals fight or flight, especially when breathing through our mouth, yet intentional deep breathing through our nose can significantly increase our energy levels, not to mention reduce the stress in our lives and its effect on our bodies.
What disciplines do you practice to keep your battery charged?
Are you jump-starting or re-charging?
Now, I have written on sleep a number of times, and its benefits do stand to reason, but the breathwork really took me off guard. I certainly had not considered it contributing more than sleep, but our cells do run on oxygen: No Oxygen No Fire
Consider how literally blowing oxygen into a fire increases the flame.
If you want to more effectively fire-up your days for optimum results - for everything you care about - be sure to intentionally breathe more often.
Because we can!
We breathe unconsciously like every other animal, but we human beings uniquely have the power to breathe intentionally. My wife Rebecca teaches Yoga which is very much about breathwork. One of her mentors who looks 20 years younger than her biological age once said to Rebecca: “It’s all in the breathwork.”
Sometimes life has to hit us over and over until we take notice - and as I said earlier - I am very grateful.
This week, consider doing a little homework on breathwork; go onto the web and do a little reading to find a deep breathing technique or two that feels right for you. If you prefer something super simple and very easy to integrate into your life - which is the route I have initially taken - do 5 minutes of intentional deep breathing when you awake every morning and again when you go to bed at night. Ideally, you would also do the same before each meal.
I have already noticed how this awareness is serving me throughout my day, knowing the fuel breathing provides, I just take several intentional deep breaths every time the thought arises. Another powerful byproduct of intentional breathing is a reduction in stress, shifting our nervous system from sympathetic (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (rest & relaxed).
A body too often in fight or flight mode is a body that beats up its battery. Notice the ways you jump-charge rather than re-charge.
High-performance engines need high-performance fuel, but apparently getting more oxygen to the engine is the first and most powerful step to increased performance. Anyone who knows anything about engines knows this to be true. It is interesting how this applies to our human bodies as well.
This week, consider taking in more oxygen, breathing more intentionally, and see if it doesn’t fire up your engine all the more - for you and for those you seek to serve.
Make it a great week!