OCP-001: On Breathing Like a Bad Ass, Pranayama & Kicking Stress in the Face.

In this episode, we explore the power of breathing, how Navy SEALs prepare for combat, and the simple techniques you can perform to reduce stress, get focussed & become more conscious.

Let’s get onconscious!

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Here’s this episode’s Transcript

[00:00:00] Chris
Welcome to Onconscious Podcast.

As always, you’re here with Reva and Chris. A couple of ordinary humans fascinated by extraordinary things. Every episode we explore different ways to break free of unconscious programming, to live bigger, bolder, more bad ass lives. Let’s get onconscious. How’s it going Reva?

[00:00:30] Reva Hey, Hey, what’s up? What’s up?

[00:00:33] Chris
You know, just chilling on a Saturday evening and ready to get into some cool content.

[00:00:38] Reva
I know I’m extremely pleased with how the weather is here. I mean, I’ve got like probably a couple more weeks to enjoy this, but it’s such a cool sunny afternoon, here

[00:00:47] Chris
Nice. Yeah. Good timing over there. It’s been lovely here today to actually go to get the door open with a nice breeze coming through. So there’s any screaming and dogs barking in the background. That’ll be the park next door. C’est la vie. Such is life.

[00:01:04] Reva
I love you children. I love you dogs.

[00:01:08] Chris
So run from your life choices and get into the topic for today, because you don’t know what we’re going to talk about.

[00:01:15] Reva
Yeah, I know. This is what we do, right? Each week we take turns to present something that we don’t discuss with each other prior to the show. So, you know, we’re in for
a surprise. So really excited to know that I talk about it. So what is it?

[00:01:31] Chris
Yeah, I hope it’s cool!! So as you know, the basis for what we kind of talk about here on the podcast is about making life a bit better. Moving from our everyday sort of unconscious programming and being able to make better decisions, make more choices, have more things available at life, but also mitigate the stresses in it. Yeah, a lot of the problems that we have not only personally, but also socially come from that. We’re so massively overwhelmed these days that just escaping ourselves for a minute is quite difficult. I think you’d probably agree with that, that things are. I mean, you live in Dubai. It’s probably one of the biggest, most craziest cities in the world at the moment.

[00:02:24] Reva
Dubai is always busy, but this year particularly, we’ve got Expo 2020, which is the world’s biggest show. That’s literally, you know, the pavilions and everything is getting constructed a few kilometres from where I live. So I’m not even exaggerating when I say that, you know, there are new buildings sprouting up in Dubai every single day.

[00:02:41] Chris
There’s something like 60,000 flats or something available or sixty thousand apartments they are trying to offload – some ridiculous stuff like that. Yeah, it’s quite insane.

[00:02:50] Reva
I mean, it’s always insane.

[00:02:54] Chris
And that’s the kind of life that we all live with. Now I’m in Melbourne and life’s just as chaotic here. Yeah. There’s always something going on, whether where what we’re doing, whether we’re working, whether at home, whether we’re on holidays or… It’s hard to switch off from life. We’re so bombarded with technology. We’re so bombarded with social media. We live these “always on” existences these days that it’s really difficult. And you know that all of that builds pressure and stress. And I think a lot of people are massively just stressed out about their lives, which causes all sorts of problems. And you add physical stress and mental stress and then you add on top of that all of the environmental stresses that we’re just living through right now. It’s quite a stressful time that we’re living in a very stressful environment. So how can we hack that? How can we can find a bit of time in our day to sort of at least resurrect ourselves a bit out of that chaos and find a bit of time for ourselves and start to get out of those unconscious programs and start to live a little more, find a bit of space where we can make some clearer choices, or at least just escape that sort of toxic environment a little bit.

[00:04:07] Reva
Okay. So you’re gonna talk about like getting time out of our busy lives, to what? Meditate?

[00:04:11] Chris
Something like that. Pretty much. Basically meditation is quite a good lead-in actually. Because what I want to talk about is something that we have very ready access to at all times and is a tried and tested way to reduce stress levels, is respiration or breathing or Pranayama – however you want to talk about it with basically breath being, able to breathe. It’s something that we always have with us, wherever we are, as long as we’re breathing, as long as we’re alive, we have breath. And that’s why from mystics to Westerners to monks to all sorts have always focused on using the breath, whether that’s through stuff like yoga, through meditation practice or things like the SEAL teams or SEAL Team Six, who does a bit of respiration and breath is something we always have with us. When I can start to focus on the breath, when we focus on the breath, it gives us that time. It’s us. It has all sorts of amazing benefits and it is something that really starts to reduce things like cortisol levels and it acts on the body. It’s not just. It gives us mental clarity. But when you start to focus on the breath. You know, when you really get focused on it, you get that mental focus, you get that awareness of focusing on something inside yourself. So your world narrows down and you get to a more internal conscious place. But then it also has physical benefits where you start to reduce cortisol level, your brain chemistry starts to change, insulin levels increase and cortisol decreases. And all these really beneficial things start to happen in your physiology. So it’s a very simple way that we can sort of start to mitigate a bit of the stress in our lives.

So I just wanted to go in to review a few breathing practices and that sort of thing that people can get into. When people think about breathing, you generally start to think about sort of more Eastern ideas, I guess thinking about meditation, yoga, monks sitting on a mat in a monastery chanting that sort of thing.

[00:06:39] Reva
When you talk about breathing, yoga it’s instantly Pranayama right? An entire yoga movement where you just do breathing, pretty much.

[00:06:53] Chris
Yeah, and yoga has the physical side as well. The Pranayama, the control of the breath, the moving the breath through the body is a big part of yogic practice, but it definitely conjures up kind of eastern mysticism and hippies and all that kind of thing. But breathing practice doesn’t have to be about that. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a type of breathing. There’s a design that came out of the SEAL teams, Navy SEALs, that obviously they put themselves into massively stressful situations, whether in wartime, they’re putting themselves into combat situations where, again, they’re really in that fight or flight mode and they want to be able to control their minds and bodies have become much more focused.

[00:07:38] Reva
I don’t get it. So they are like in this stressful environment, and they are like probably seconds away from capturing one of the most dangerous man or woman in the world. And then what do they do? They collectively just breathe? 😀

[00:07:51] Chris
They just sit down and they breathe. Exactly that. No!! So. And so the system that came out of the SEAL team training was this idea of this type of breathing called box breathing.

[00:08:08] Reva
Yeah I have heard of that. I think very recently Ben Greenfield was talking about it. If I’m not wrong.

[00:08:14] Chris
Yeah, he sort of talked about it a bit. There’s quite a few people that talk about it now, that sort of came out of SEAL training. It’s the way that SEAL teams – they are some of the hardest motherfuckers on the planet – and they are able to in true life or death situations, in combat situation, still their minds, reduce levels of stress so that they can get more focused, more mental clarity, more energy. You can positively affect emotions and mental well-being in that kind of thing. So obviously, that seems like a very different situation when you’re talking about a SEAL team going into a covert mission in combat, where in actual life or death.

But our bodies don’t know the difference between that kind of fight or flight that’s created by the mental things that are going on in our brains. If we putting ourselves into the future or thinking about something from our past, that is still stress in the body, the body takes that stress in the same way that it would take in fight or flight in a combat situation. So to answer your question, no, the SEAL team doesn’t sit down and start praying and doing meditation and chanting in the middle of the combat 😛 But they do practice this box breathing because it does actually provide long term benefits.

[00:09:40] Reva Oh hello kids! Hi!
[00:09:49] Chris There’s some sort of party happening out there.

[00:09:49] Reva
Sounds fun! I want to be there! Okay. So this is something that they do every day? Is this how they breathe naturally? Do they just, you know, all box breathe?

[00:10:03] Chris
So, I mean, it’s a practice. So it’s supposedly like any sort of meditation or any type of breathing practice where if you do it enough, it creates long term benefit. But it is also something that can be done in a heightened high-intensity situation or anytime in our lives, for us average folks where maybe we’re gonna do a presentation at work or we’re going into some sort of stressful situation. And we feel that panic coming on or we feel negative emotion coming on. You can use it, right.

[00:10:03] Reva
Like right now. I mean speaking of 2020 and everything, I don’t want my internet connection to die!! You know what I mean? So I am like box breathing right now. Super stressful to get this podcast to the people!

[00:10:52] Chris
Yeah, you are stressed out, your cortisol levels are rising!! So let’s help you out with your traumatic Internet and do a bit of box breathing about it. Obviously, we can replace box breathing with any type of breathing. Now, you have meditation – deep breath in and without deep breath thing, deep breath out – even that is enough to calm everything down. But box breathing is very specific in how it works, sometimes called square breathing. And effectively what you’re going to do is you’re going to breathe in over a minimum sort of four seconds. So breathe in for four seconds. You hold that breath for four seconds. Breathe out over four seconds and then hold that out position.

So when you breathe it all the air out, maintain that for four seconds and then you are basically completing a box. Right. So you’re in, hold, out, hold. So imagine you’re making a box, all four sides. So this idea and you can obviously, as you get more accomplished with this, you can increase the seconds or you can increase how long you hold each side of the box. OK. So I’ve done this a few times and I can get it out like getting up to around between six and eight seconds. So there were an eight-second inhale. Hold eight seconds. Breathe out for eight seconds. And you’re really controlling your breath. This is where it has a lot of benefit. It’s quite difficult to breathe in over eight seconds. It’s quite difficult to breathe out slowly over eight seconds. And then when you’re in that bottom position in that you’ve breathed everything out and you’re holding it in position, you increasing CO2 resilience. More CO2 resistance.

And that’s another thing that’s really important to someone like a SEAL where they’re diving and they’re underwater and they’ve got to hold their breath for minutes at a time. So it’s a breathing practice that can help them. That can help you on that sort of thing, it’ss gonna help you hold your breath longer. Help, you know, increase your CO2 capacities, increase your breathing capacity, increase how long you can hold your breath.

So it’s got a lot of benefits just from this one particularly box breathing sort of as a practice. And if you can really get up to it, you can increase to 10, 12, 20 seconds over time. But even in that sort of four-second practice, breathing in four seconds, holding, breathing out, holding, it’s enough to – because you’re very focused on the breath, you’re focused on holding, you focus on what’s going on internally inside your body and it draws that awareness inside. So you’re somewhat shutting off whatever’s going on outside. And because you focus on something different, the stresses and worries start to wear off.

So your stress often feels like a fog or a haze, that’s how people might describe stress, it’s that sort of haze and this breathing practice, whether it’s box breathing or whether it’s just taking 10 slow breaths or whether it is during a more of a yogic type practice or… I know both of us follow Wim Hof. That type of fire breathing where it’s more about building energy through breath. When you’re able to focus on breath, it gives you something internal, it just gives you somewhere where you’re building awareness internally and you’re starting to shut off the voices in your head. We are starting to shut off thoughts of tomorrow, of yesterday. It’s a very effective thing and it’s something that we have all of the time. And so it’s a really cool technology, a really cool technique because we always have our breath.

[00:14:37] Reva
You don’t have to carry some fancy watch or some sort of, I don’t know, like HPV monitor or something like then. Or is it HRV? One of those. But when you’re telling me about box breathing, I’ve never practised box breathing, I’ve heard people talk about it. Now you’re telling me about it. But in the mornings I do my Sun Salutations, I do my Surya Namaskar. So there is a few positions put together, I think close to eleven or twelve positions. Yoga moves. So each move there is an exhale. And then following that is an inhale and then it’s an exhale. And then you got to hold your breath actually through these moves. So you’re actually doing this box breathing while you’re doing the Surya Namaskar for the entire session of you doing those yoga moves. So that’s quite interesting.

[00:15:30] Chris
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I guess it’s a similar type of thing that I said. Yogic practice has and your breath is a central part of yoga. Yeah. And it is. And so there’s various so many different methods of how to focus on the breath and breath is life. When you’ve done meditation, you’ve done different types of breathing, you’ve done yoga practice. When you really sit with your breath, it’s really calming and you feel like your whole nervous system starts to calm down, that stress starts to disappear and your attention gets a bit more focused. Maybe some of your thoughts stop bubbling away. So crazy. And it’s you know, it’s just a really cool thing. And I do it a lot. I find myself, if you’re going into anywhere, you just want to calm down or going into a stressful situation, you know, just focusing on the breath, whether it is something like a box breathing in or if it’s just breathing in, you know, taking deep breaths through, from your stomach. So you want to breathe in from your stomach rather than from your chest. Even just when you do start to focus on your breath, you also find the deepening of the breath.

Now, when you stress, you tend to breathe sort of high up in your chest type breathing. Yeah, it feels nervous. Like if you just do that, if you just start breathing kind of shallow through your chest, you start to feel a bit nervous. You start to feel that. I do anyway. You breathe like that. You feel like your blood pressure is rising.

[00:17:13] Reva
You know how people say you heave a sigh of relief. So it makes us feel comfortable. So the entire emotion of like breathing in and then you feel more relaxed immediately just with one breath. So it just. Yeah, just totally makes sense. We all have been doing that without actually knowing how it works and why it works.

[00:17:34] Chris
Yeah, exactly. I think we’ve all experienced that. We all breathe. But I think until you do some kind of a practice with the breath, again exactly what we talk about here is finding or becoming more onconscious. So to make decisions about the things that you’re doing or be being more aware of why you’re doing things and what you’re actually doing when you’re just out in the world, doing your life and doing your days. The more we can do something and become aware of what we’re doing, we get more moments where we know we’re starting to calm down. We’re reducing stress levels, that kind of thing. And breathing is really where we can do that.

[00:18:12] Reva
I got a question. So recently I think it was Ben, but I’m not really sure. He did mention that it’s so much more effective, breathing is much more effective if we do it through the nose. [Maximising the Oxygen Advantage https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/transcripts/transcript-the-oxygen-advantage/]

So a lot of us actually breathe through our mouths, just generally. But then they are like short breaths and we breathe through our mouths. But then he says that it is actually a very good exercise to consciously start breathing through your nose, even when you’re running until the time that you’re out of breath. And then, yeah, it makes sense to kind of like breathe through your mouth. But till then, and apparently some runners when they train, they actually hold some water in their mouths as well, so as not to open your mouth, to train themselves to breathe through the nose. Yeah. So you know anything about that?

[00:19:05] Chris
No. Again, there are certain meditation practices where you block off one of your nostrils and you’re breathing through the left. Breathe out through the right, in left, out through the right. Maybe it’s to do with, maybe the nose is more restricted? You get less air in, so you’ve got to be a bit more conscious of it, a bit more focused on it, maybe like there’s maybe less air coming through than if you breathe through your mouth? But yeah, I mean, definitely when you do fitness, instructors say you want to breathe through your nose.

[00:19:39] Reva
Or maybe it’s just about using your natural filtration system, because you’ve got your nose hairs isn’t it? So it kind of like traps the dust and all.

[00:19:49] Chris
Yeah maybe prevent you from chocking and taking in the dust when you are in Dubai.

[00:19:54] Reva
It’s really important!!

[00:19:55] Chris
I know there are some sort of whether it’s psychosomatic or there’s got to be some reason that breathing through your nose does have that calming effect. It could just be it’s maybe a bit more focused. You could think about it just if you focus on breathing a certain way versus another way, maybe that’s all it is. But let’s do some research and look it up. I’m sure breathing is going to be a core thing in all of our discussions. I think it’s such an important part of who we are and how we work, how we operate in life.

[00:20:37] Reva
Since my internet is like amazing, right? So I just Googled while we are speaking of this thing. So advantages of nose breathing. So it says that the noise quite literally adds moisture to the air that you breathe in, so it prevents the dryness in the lungs and the tubes. And it’s also like what you were saying, actually saying something that’s right. It adds resistance to the air stream, so it increases the oxygen uptake and also maintains the lung’s elasticity, which doesn’t happen when you’re breathing through your mouth. So yeah.

[00:21:11] Chris
There you go. Thank you, Dr. Google.

[00:21:17] Reva
Thank you Google. This broadcast is supported by Google. Actually, it isn’t.

[00:21:25] Chris
Disclaimer: Not actually supported, but open to suggestions!

So I guess there is that restricted nature of it I guess? Yeah, that’s cool. So now I mean when you are listening to this podcast, it’s really interesting just to try different types of breathing and box breathing was something I hadn’t heard of and I’ve meditated for years and done exercise and done yoga and all sorts of things. And I hadn’t come across box breathing. But then I did a course and they talked about box breathing and the Navy SEALs and like, that’s pretty fucking cool. Like if it’s cool enough for Navy SEALs it’s cool enough for me. But it’s you know, there’s so many different ways of doing it. And I think that’s what we kind of aim to do here on the program, is just talk, bring a whole lot of different things to the table. And I think we should, if we want to become less unconscious in our lives and we want to become a bit more aware of what we’re doing. Try and a whole bunch of different stuff. And seeing what fits and seeing what works for us is really important rather than just doing like Reva and Chris said box breathing, so you go and do it – but also try a bunch of other stuff as well because we’re all different and different things have different effects as well.

[00:22:55] Reva
Yeah, totally makes sense. Yeah, thank you for that actually it’s very useful. And if I remember correctly, I’ve seen an animation that could help somebody do the box breathing as well. It’s really calming animation. Is there an app?

[00:23:13] Chris
There’s an app called literally Box Breathing.

[00:23:18] Reva
Ah is there? Someone has thought of everything.

[00:23:21] Chris
You thought you’re just gonna make a million dollars with that idea?!.

[00:23:27] Reva
We’ll come up with something else – triangle breathing! Pentagon breathing.

[00:23:33] Chris
Hexagonal breathing, it’s the future. The future of breath. But yeah, I think it’s just called box breathing (the app) and lets you extend, choose how long each side of the box is. I think the longest I ever did was 10-second boxes. But I found it was quite difficult. But I find eight seconds is quite doable. And in terms of a practice.

So with the box breathing app, a general practice would be to basically do 10 rounds. And that’s sort of a good introductory place to start. Start with your four seconds; four seconds in, four seconds hold, four seconds out, four seconds hold and do 10 repetitions or ten rounds. That should take around five minutes. So it’s a good little practice you can do any time really, watching Netflix, when you’re on the bus on the way to work…

[00:24:28] Reva
When you are stuck in traffic jams. You know when you’re in a supermarket queue and then you’re like cursing the person in front of you…

[00:24:37] Chris
Yeah rather than side kicking them in the face, do some box breathing.

[00:24:44] Reva
And that’s what Navy seals do too! You feel macho, you know? Instead of like sight kicking somebody in the face. You should feel macho doing box breathing yo!

[00:24:51] Chris
You get relaxed, get stress free and focus on who you’re gonna shoot in the face!

[00:25:06] Reva
What?! Haha! Anyway, is that it for today?

[00:25:07] Chris
Sure! I mean, I think that’s a good little chat around breathing, but no box breathing is kind of what I wanted to bring up because it was something that I thought was quite new, maybe something you hadn’t tried before. But I’ve been doing it a bit recently and yeah, it’s really effective. It’s a really nice little way to sort of breathe. It’s a bit gamified as well. That getting longer, going for four seconds, and then getting up to six, seven, eight seconds. So it’s quite a good little challenge. So it’s a bit more of an every day, every person way to get into breathing that doesn’t have that kind of attachment to Eastern religion or spirituality or that kind of thing, anyone can do it. And the Navy SEALs do it. So get on it. Give it a try. It’s good for you.

[00:25:57] Reva Great stuff, Chris. Thank you.

[00:25:59] Chris
All right. Thank you. And the Internet lasted that whole way through, so Thank you Du!

[00:26:04] Reva
I know!! Haha. Good stuff. Until we see you guys on the next episode of Onconscious Podcast, this is me, Reva signing off.

[00:26:14] Chris
Until then, this is Chris. We’ll see you on the next episode. Take care.

Photo by Nur Andi Ravsanjani Gusma from Pexels

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