Do you ever feel your brain behaves like a runaway train? Anxiety, depression, and stress are reaching unprecedented levels today and all three of these are the by-product of addiction to compulsive thinking. This mental dis-ease is caused by an overactive mind that is not coherent. Unfortunately, in our society, there has been no one telling us that incessant thinking isn’t the only way. Well, I’m about to give you one technique that can help YOU move out of the craziness of incessant thought and into a state of calm-alert. It is when the right (analytical) side and the left (spacial) side of your brain are playing nice together. When the right brain is in runaway train mode you experience what is called fragmentation. This is when the right and left brains are out of sync. This fragmented state is fertile ground for stress, anxiety, and depression.
So How Do I Stop the Runaway Train?
One simple way to create coherence is to breathe! More specifically, practice deep abdominal nasal breathing. Your beat-to-beat variability gets enhanced when you practice this while on a walk or ride. What this means is that the heartbeat takes on a rhythm that speeds up on the inhale and slows down during the exhale thus creating the experience of coherence or as we like to call it, “calm-alert.” In minutes, when you stay single-pointedly focused on just the breath, your brain moves into coherence. Naturally.
The goal of this technique is to maximize respiration, or the lungs capacity to uptake oxygen and expire carbon dioxide. Most of us breathe shallowly, a practice called chest and clavicular breathing. This style of breathing is indicative of a stress response and most of us do it whenever we exercise. The deep abdominal breathing technique once practiced regularly, takes the stress out of the exercise. The experience will commence during exercise and slowly become more and more ongoing.
How Does This Work Exactly?
The experience of remaining in calm-alert is largely caused by what is called vagal nerve stimulus. This happens when the exhale of the breath, utilizing the abdominal musculature to expire air from the lungs, is emphasized. The vagus nerve, the primary parasympathetic nerve, is in the base of the lungs and is responsible for the slowing of the heart rate in beat-to-beat variability. This is why chest and clavicular (shallow) breathing doesn’t cut it. The vagus nerve doesn’t get triggered without utilizing all of the oxygen, including that which is down in the base of the lungs near the belly. Babies learn how to do this when they breastfeed and we all do it when we sleep. If you practice this while awake then you will begin to experience what the term ‘waking up’ actually is. It’s not just a concept; it can be an ongoing experience you enjoy throughout your day.
The experience of coherence in the brain quickly becomes a preferred state of awareness once you have personally witnessed what it feels like. Coherence is actually our most natural state of awareness, we have just become experts at fragmentation not knowing any better before now. When a baby is learning to walk and talk it is in a state of calm-alert. This is why we are able to learn so much as infants. Then we are taught to overthink and we move out of coherence and into fragmentation in our young lives. Thus creating the runaway train.
If you are curious and want to not only learn more but experience more coherence in your daily life please consider joining our 6-week foundation program, where this is one of our primary topics of study/practice.