Thursday, February 25, 2016


My blog appears on its own web page

In the upper left corner of the page, way up, is a search window for searching the blog.  You can use that window to search the 2,366 posts.  Several of the posts have been about breath and breathing.  Air, water and food are all imperative needs for us but air is the most incessant and immediate.  Since we are always breathing and we can't stay alive if we stop, breathing is a constant in our lives.  It can be an interesting and important topic.

Not long ago, I read Dr. Bessel van der Kolk's book "The Body Keeps the Score".  It is about trauma in human life and ways to treat people hampered in their living by past traumatic experiences.  At one point in the point, Kolk mentions that his heart rate variability (HRV) was not to his liking.  Just the other day, I was reading chapter 11 of Dr. Jo Marchant's book "Cure: A Journey into the Science Behind Mind over Body" and up popped that HRV subject again.  

I met the idea of breathing and coherence when I looked at the TED talk by Dr.Alan Watkins.  It was well done and interesting but it didn't seem to lead anywhere.  As I read and thought about this HRV business, I got a clearer idea of what various people were talking about and why it mattered.

I guess you could get very, very technical about the heart beat rate and its relation to the rate of breath.  I read some of the book by "The Healing Power of the Breath" by Brown and Gerbarg.  I have read about Russian work with breath and breathing.  I have come to rely on my breath as a focus of my attention when meditating.  Van der Kolk alerted me to his personal, physical interest in working on his own heart rate variability.  But I think that for a layman like me, the whole matter can be valuable shrunk down to the practice of deep, slow, very slow breathing at times during the day.

People breath at much slower rates than their heart beats.  Heart rate beats can be 40 or 50 on up to much higher rates per minute.  Normally, even when running, we don't breath at such high rates.  These books and my playing about with my breathing imply that breathing slowly, slowly and regularly can be very healthy.  For one thing, trying to belly-breath instead of chest breath and taking in air during a count to 6 and then exhaling slowly to another count of six puts your attention on your breath.  Doing that tends to train your attention and develop consciousness of where and what you have your attention on, the much ballyhooed mindfulness.

But these breath people are interested in the relation of the breath and the nerve impulse of breathing to the nerve impulse making the heart beat.  As I say, slow, conscious, deliberate breath that extends the inhale to 6 counts and the exhale to 6 counts helps put the breath and the heart in better synchronization.  So do yourself a pleasant favor and take three or four slow, conscious deliberate breaths at a time at selected points during your day.

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