Guest Post by Brigid Walsh and Brad Thompson – Golden Door Wellness Retreat & Spa
“Whenever you are conscious of the breath, you are absolutely present. Conscious breathing stops your mind” – Eckhart Tolle
Though it requires very little thought, breathing is something we do every moment of our lives and is the most important thing we do to stay alive.
Just noticing the breath can profoundly affect our mood and our ability to be present and effective. And as we become more present we engage in a deeper style of thinking that is more perceptive, creative and thoughtful.
People who breathe well and stand tall carry a vibe that brings people with them. Even in the most stressful of times, engaging the breath can help us to be less reactive in the moment and also slows our heart rate and reduces our blood pressure. Generally we exude confidence and cope better.
A key indicator of good leadership is self-awareness and the breath can give us insight to our current state of mind, a marker of being anxious and stressed or relaxed and focused.
As a general rule a healthy breath rate is approximately 10-12 breaths per minute and breathing properly involves the diaphragm – taking slow, deep breaths. This helps to balance our oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, leading to a host of positive health conditions including a greater sense of relaxation.
The flip side, feeling overwhelmed and overworked increases our breath rate, becoming short and shallow and adds to our risk of stress-related anxiety and burn out. Being in this heightened state over a period of time impacts our potential to lead well.
Improving our ability to breathe is easily done. The following exercise is one of the simplest methods for transforming our breathing habits and it can be practiced anywhere.
STEP 1. Sit upright comfortably; place one hand at your lower abdomen and one hand at your upper chest. Take several slow deep breaths and feel what moves when you take those breaths. Is your breath more prominent in your abdomen or your chest?
STEP 2. Take a deep breath into your lungs and hold it without letting any air escape. Pull your stomach in flat so your chest expands and push your stomach out so your chest sinks. Do this so you generate a seesaw motion between the abdomen and the chest.
STEP 3. When you need to breathe out, pull the tummy in and exhale slowly through your nose. Do this four or five times, holding the breath for as long as you comfortably can and moving the imaginary bubble of air up and down.
By practicing this simple exercise throughout the day you’ll be able to reset the diaphragm as your primary breathing muscle. The obvious benefits are a calmer, more resilient you and being a positive influence around others which are great leadership qualities.
Go forth, breathe and lead!
Brigid Walsh has worked in the Health, Wellness, Sports & Fitness industry for over 25 years and has established herself as a reputable and passionate industry leader. She is the General Manager of Golden Door Wellness Retreat and Spa in the Hunter Valley where she continues to inspire and support healthy lifestyle change.
Brad Thompson has transformed thousands of guests’ lives as the master of Breathing, Qigong, Feldenkrais and Meditation at Golden Door for over 25 years. Brad will be leading a powerful session On Breathing at The Thriving Workplace Event in Sydney, August 27 & 28, 2019.