Brain Breathing

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

What is it and how to do it...

Brain Breathing

OK. So, Brain Breathing!


This is something I teach all my clients pretty much regardless of what they have come to me for. As a self-care technique it’s an important one to have in your toolbox. After having an accidental and somewhat validating chat some years ago with a neurologist I committed to making it part of my practice. 


I start by explaining to my clients the difference between emotional and rational thinking and the roles they have to play in our everyday lives. That rational thinking activity mostly happens around the frontal and parietal lobe parts of the brain and emotional thinking and response activities from the temporal lobe, middle part of the brain (Neuroscientists welcome to comment and provide greater insights).


When we experience prolonged periods of stress and anxiety or a traumatic event our thinking can get locked in to an emotional thinking style. This emotional thinking style can get a bit greedy and hog all our attention. As a result we come to believe that it speaks the truth to us. For example: We may already be feeling tired and less resilient towards stress. We may have been thinking for a while 'Why am I so tired all the time?', 'What is wrong with me?' and ‘I don’t think I can take much more of this.’. Already the negative feedback has begun and the underlying stress builds. Much of these emotional responsive thoughts are so well rehearsed that they go under the radar but they simmer away ready to provide automatic negatives thoughts (ANT’s) at each and every moment as and when they are not needed.


An important event must be attended to and before we know it more demands are being placed on our resources to cope. A burst of adrenaline can be released in to the blood for apparently no valid reason. We may not know why adrenaline has been misfired in to the bloodstream, maybe a simple stress response to being run done perhaps. There are rational ways of understanding what is going on with us but we are of course too busy listening to our panicked emotional thoughts that are responding to the kick in the head its just been handed by the adrenaline buzz. We become focused on the awful unwanted feelings of a racing heart, hot sweatiness, feeling faint, nausea, blurry vision and the desire to get out that they intensify. Emotional thoughts collide to make sense of what is going on with what we are feeling 'I am having heart attack!’, ‘I am going to faint!’, ‘I am going to be sick!’, ‘Everyone can see what a fool I look!' etc... These thoughts feed the feelings and we get more of the same until we either, run, collapse or explode. (Dang feels like I’m about to talk myself in to a panic attack here!)


Whilst we are in the grip of these unpleasant feelings its our emotional thoughts that hold the floor in our brain. Evolutionarily speaking these emotional thoughts stand us in good stead. We need quick, knee jerk decisions in times of high risk. We need our mind focused on an appropriate assessment of what is to be done when our lives are in danger. Step forward emotional thinking! 'Yes you're right to be feeling scared as there is a lion about to attack you. Lets run away. Now! Fast!' These kinds of emotional thoughts are out of place in the queue at the