Breathing is traditionally thought of as an automatic process driven by the brainstem—the part of the brain controlling such life-sustaining functions as heartbeat and sleeping patterns. But new and unique research, involving recordings made directly from within the brains of humans undergoing neurosurgery, shows that breathing can also change your brain.

Simply put, changes in breathing—for example, breathing at different paces or paying careful attention to the breaths—were shown to engage different parts of the brain.

Humans’ ability to control and regulate their brain is unique: e.g., controlling emotions, deciding to stay awake despite being tired, or suppressing thoughts. These abilities are not trivial, nor do humans share them with many animals. Breathing is similar: animals do not alter their breathing speed volitionally; their breathing normally only changes in response to running, resting, etc. Questions that have baffled scientists in this context are: why are humans capable of volitionally regulating their breathing, and how do we gain access to parts of our brain that are not normally under our conscious control. Additionally, is there any benefit in our ability to access and control parts of our brain that are typically inaccessible? Given that many therapies—Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, trauma therapy, or various types of spiritual exercises—involve focusing and regulating breathing, does controlling inhaling and exhaling have any profound effect on behavior?

This recent study finally answers these questions by showing that volitionally controlling our respirational, even merely focusing on one’s breathing, yield additional access and synchrony between brain areas. This understanding may lead to greater control, focus, calmness, and emotional control.

The study, conducted by my post-doctoral researcher, Dr. Jose Herrero, in collaboration with Dr. Ashesh Mehta, a renowned neurosurgeon at NorthShore University Hospital in Long Island, began by observing brain activity when patients were breathing normally. Next, the patients were given a simple task to distract them: clicking a button when circles appeared on the computer screen. This allowed Dr. Herrero to observe what was happening when people breath naturally and do not focus on their breathing. After this, the patients were told to consciously increase the pace of breathing and to count their breaths. When breathing changed with the exercises, the brain changed as well. Essentially, the breathing manipulation activated different parts of the brain, with some overlap in the sites involved in automatic and intentional breathing.

The findings provide neural support for advice individuals have been given for millennia: during times of stress, or when heightened concentration is needed, focusing on one’s breathing or doing breathing exercises can indeed change the brain. This has potential application to individuals in a variety of professions that require extreme focus and agility. Athletes, for example, have long been known to utilize breathing to improve their performance. Now, this research puts science behind that practice.

Beyond studying the ability of humans to control and regulate their neural activity volitionally, the study was also unique in that it utilized a rare method of neural research: directly looking inside the brains of awake and alert humans. Typical neuroscience studies involving humans use imaging techniques (i.e. fMRI or EEG) to inferthe neural activity in people’s brain from outside the skull. But studies involving electrodes implanted in humans’ brains are rare. The ability to look inside the humans’ brains allows us to study thinking, deciding and even imagining or dreaming by directly observing the brain. The study subjects in our work were patients who had electrodes implanted in their brain as part of a clinical treatment for epilepsy. These patients were experiencing seizures that could not be controlled by medication and therefore required surgical interventions to detect the seizure focus for future resection.

Given that detection requires the patient to have a spontaneous seizure in order to identify the exact seizure onset location, which can take days, the patients are kept in the hospital with electrodes continuously monitoring their brain activity.

The research findings show that the advice to “take a deep breath” may not just be a cliché. Exercises involving volitional breathing appear to alter the connectivity between parts of the brain and allow access to internal sites that normally are inaccessible to us. Further investigation will now gradually monitor what such access to parts of our psyche that are normally hidden can reveal.

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Breath of Bliss Academy – Breathwork Teacher Trainings & Retreats November 2017

Breath of Bliss Academy – Breathwork Teacher Trainings & Retreats

QUANTUM LEAP in Thailand! The most recent Level 2 Group Facilitator was life-changing. I’ve been speechless for a few days. I can now finally try to put it into words. Raw, primal jungle and crystal blue waters…and group of old souls gathering to learn how to use Breath of Bliss ceremonies as a vehicle to share their deep wisdom, inspiration and essence! What an absolute honour to hold space for these world teachers in this exotic tropical paradise, along with Bonnie our super-snuggle kitty, in our studio overlooking an infinity of ocean and trees.

The trainees hailed from Hawaii, tribal New Guinea, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. Everyone practiced teaching right from day 1 of the 17 day immersion and chose to step in 100% They were devoted to the vision, eager to learn from each other and clear in sharing how they want to help build the Breath of Bliss brand and movement. I’ve never before encounter such a unified team of love who actually consistently invited me to uplevel my own vision as well!

They were each able to transmute the painful, denser shadow frequencies they had each navigated in their lives, into enlightened teachings, and to share them in the context of powerful breathwork journeys. Our open dialogs about the viruses of “not-enoughness”, “perfectionism” and “living from the mind instead the heart” were rich and potent. They each seemed to have an unshakeable awareness of their purpose on the planet, their soul mission and desire to work as part of a team together. And many already set up their breathwork ceremonies at home while at the training!

I was profoundly honoured to have the presence of a native elder with us, Jhon Yonathan Kwano, who had been sent away by his tribe as a “messenger” to gather wisdom to bring back to teach his people! I Yes, he is bringing Breath of Bliss back to his island! I learned so much from his awakened state of joy and grounded wisdom. Sally Thomson brought her Sioux ancestry forth in a powerful invitation for us all to live from our soul’s guidance. Her powerful teachings around self-sourcing guidance from the soul are still with me! She is returning to teach in Portland and Maui. Jean-Marc Aliphon came from Perth with heritage from Mauritius, and shared boundless enthusiasm, approachable expertise, massive planetary vision and a profoundly moving story of life transformation… he will be bringing Breath of Bliss to Perth and into prisons. Shannon Rose brought her Maori ancestry forth to inspire us all to connect with our ancient wisdom and hearts and shared deeply feminine, proufoundly empowering journeys that invited the lineages of grandmothers to speak to us. She is launching classes in Auckland. Kirsty Targrass brought a graceful, tender and intergalactic transmission to us in her breathwork ceremony that transmitted codes of wisdom and light. She will be teaching in Ubud and Cairnes. Andrew James brought the buddhic wisdom body of a seasoned meditator, calling in the divine father energy for all of us in his powerful, affirming guidance. He will be sharing many ceremonies and retreat in Hong Kong! Fiona Galloway brought clarity and dedication in her commitment to invite the light through the deepest shadows, inviting us all to recommit to feeling the full spectrum of our emotions. She will be sharing in New South Wales, Australia.

Emily Love stepped up as a trainer-in-training to hold space with me, bringing so much depth, authenticity and impeccable presence. I am so grateful and excited to see what births with us. This woman is a powerhouse! She will be rolling out her classes now in Canberra.

Extra SPECIAL thanks to Kirsty Targrass and Shannon Rose whose amazing internship work helped to make this event the most incredible one yet. I am eternally grateful for your hard work, dedication and above and beyond contributions that have helped evolve the whole Bliss movement to the next level. You are precious angels and I will forever cherish our amazing time working together. Also thank you to Nathan Parker who shared his gorgeous home studio with us!

I continue to sit with this experience in a state of wonder, as the transmissions continue.

Consider joining us for the next Level 1 and 2 in Bali in February and March. All the details are at www.BreathBliss.com  Let’s share the love of connected breathing with the planet!

More to come.. I have hundreds of images, tons of videos and writings from Thailand to share on Breath of Bliss Academy – Breathwork Teacher Trainings & Retreatseats page… like it to get more detailed updates