Changing Your Thoughts in 10 Seconds
I am sure we have all experienced the feeling of panic while under pressure, the feeling of not knowing what to say, or how to act. This phenomenon is actually a survival mechanism dating back thousands of years. When we were faced with threats such as bears or lions, our body’s natural response was to shut down its frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for problem solving, memory, language, and judgment. Our options then became very simple: fight the threat, or flee from the threat. There was no time to think about it or, well, you get the idea.
The issue in 2020 is that we are not dealing with bears or lions anymore (for the most part), we are just dealing with other people. The fight or flight response can actually give us a DIY lobotomy of the frontal lobe during simple tasks such as going to a job interview or interacting with strangers. Therefore, unless we can get control of our physiology, anyone can make us look like a fool, and it is usually our own fault. So how can we alter our physiology naturally by doing more than just thinking about it? The answer is changing the way you breathe.
Breathing is the only autonomous system in the body we can control, and by focusing on the following three things, you will positively influence the biological and emotional state from which your thoughts emerge:
Rhythm – breathe in and out at a constant rhythm, do not allow your breaths to become disorganized. Breathing in rhythm allows us to regain control of our frontal lobes.
Smoothness – breathe in and out fully (3-5 seconds in, 3-5 seconds out) to maximize the amount of oxygen the body is getting. Oxygen acts as fuel for the brain, and although the brain comprises only 2% of body mass, it uses about 20% of the body’s oxygen.
Focus – focus breath at the centre of your chest. Positive emotion comes from this area and by focusing your attention here, you will get away from the noise in your head.
Thoughts are extremely powerful and can sometimes be persistent enough to take over your life. If they are not under control, you can imagine how much they would negatively impact pain and stress, which is a big reason why manual osteopaths often place an emphasis on breathing during treatment. So next time you feel like you need to refocus, take 10 seconds, and change the way you breathe!
Written by: Austin Lebar