NO MORE ANGER?
First, you watch your thoughts and emotions. You observe the interplay between your mind and emotions and how one influences the other.
You begin to realise the effect of your thinking. You bring your thoughts to the forefront of your mind as opposed to allowing them carry on unnoticed in the background. From this, you automatically exert more control over your thought processes. Just as you would immediately drop a hot item from your hand, the realisation that your mind determines your happiness is total and unquestionable. This is awareness.
You begin to understand your mind as a tool that you can use and, at the same time, that you gain more control over. While doing anything and between thinking for practical purposes, bring attention into your body and reduce your breathing. You follow each breath and feel the air shortage. You breathe through your nose at all times: during exercise, while sleeping and when engaged in any other activity. You feel your inner body throughout the day.
If you have a problem, you think for a while and then drop the thinking and merge with the inner body. You think for a few minutes and then stop thinking.
Does this mean that you never experience anger or emotions, or hostility or agitation? No.
You will have emotions and you will get angry, but less frequently. External circumstances and events will not affect you as before. The more stillness you bring into your life, the less you react and the quicker you overcome situations.
If someone cuts you off while driving, you might honk your horn but you will return to stillness a lot quicker. If your mind is heavy, it is probable that you honk your horn and keep it pressed for a long time. If you are well immersed in stillness, you might have no need to honk. You let it go. You don’t automatically react.
By feeling the inner body, you can sense how active the mind is. If the mind is stressed, your tummy will be tense and hard as a rock. You know the effect that anger has on your body and with this realisation, you don’t reinforce it with continuous thinking. Instinctively, you are aware that to do so is harmful. After a while, the issue fades away. You understand the insanity of the human mind and do not identify with each thought as being real. When one is aware of the effects of the mind and how it causes anger, hatred, tension and turmoil, you are able to automatically drop an issue a lot sooner.
JUST DO IT
Don’t just think about stillness of the mind. Just go into stillness. Merge with your surroundings so that you are one with life. Experience it instead of intellectualising it.
People talk about the importance of living in the now, but many do not understand what this means. Living in the now is moving exactly with time. Your attention is not caught up in your head. Moment by moment, step by step, frame by frame. You are not even conscious of time passing. You are one with time and move with it. Your movement is simultaneous. Like a river flowing, you move with the current. You go with the flow of life instead of trying to beat your way through against the current, against what has happened in the past.
The mind will always want to retain control. “Ah, when I have a still mind for one full year, things will be so much better. I will be calmer, lighter and cleverer. In twelve month’s time, I won’t have the worry that I have now. I won’t have the anger that I have now. I will have peace of mind.”
Don’t continuously think about it and set a goal to be still. Don’t keep checking on how you are doing. Don’t keep trying to be better at it. Just do it, don’t think about it or set an outcome in the future to reach. There is no outcome. There is no future. There is only Now. Where is your attention?
Take a holiday from the mental torment of the mind. Take time out from it. Just stay in life.
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN LIFE
Depressed and anxious people also need to be accountable. After all, the problem and solution are both in the same place – your head. It is too easy to run to the doctor, throw money at him and allow him to push legal drugs on you without attempting to address the cause of the problem in the first place. Not all doctors are like this, but too many are. A person on continuous medication is great news for the Western health model. He or she is then a constant customer of pharmaceutical conglomerates and will use their products for the next few decades.
Some people tell me that they have tried breathing exercises and that they did not work. The simple answer to this is that they did not make a commitment to give it a good shot. They tried for a few brief moments or maybe a day or two, and then gave up. They lacked discipline. Well, I’m sorry to tell you that sometimes we need to put in effort to get somewhere. Watching your breath should not even be considered a task. Reconnecting with your body is a wonderful thing to do. It has taken many years for you of adding thought after thought to get you to the point where you are today. It will also take a little time to reverse this habit. Like all habits, the mind wants to retain the status quo and, for a while, will be resistant to change. It is up to you and no one else to make this change.
For many people, Western society is a cop out. We have graduated into instant gratification, looking for the quick fix and not wanting to take responsibility for our own lives. If you don’t give this a good shot, then I’m sorry to say that you have not suffered enough.
People often tell me that they do not have the time to watch their breathing or feel the inner body. Again, this is a cop out. Breathing or feeling the inner body can be applied during any activity or event.
I can honestly say that if you reduce your breathing and feel your inner body as often as possible for three weeks, you will be a changed person at the end of it. You will have a clarity of mind that you probably have not experienced since when you were a child. Remember, you once had clarity of mind. You once lived totally free from repetitive and incessant thinking. You once lived in a state of bliss. This has all been covered up by layers of conditioning and thought. Go back to your original state. Go back to how your life was during the first few years. See thought as something that you can choose to use for a practical situation. At other times, connect with the Now, your inner body and your breath, and the layers of thought activity and conditioning will dissolve as you no longer place attention on them. Tame the tiger before it eats you.
It is not difficult to watch your breath and still your mind. This is the natural order of things, all we are doing is going home. What is difficult is living in the incessant noise in the head and accepting that whatever our mind throws up at us to be true. I don’t know how people live like this. I lived this way for many years and I suffered, was stressed and felt fear and anxiety. It is insane.
What to do
The number of times you take attention out of your mind and put it onto your breath, your inner body or your senses is far more important than the length of time occupied there. Be aware many times throughout the day.
In life, we have two choices: the first is that we take responsibility for our own health and mind. The second is to leave responsibility of our health to outsiders such as doctors, psychologists or psychotherapists.
Ultimately, only one person can lighten the thought activity and that person is you. Sometimes, this concept might seem impossible, but be patient. It has taken time for the layers of conditioning to accumulate. It will also take a little time for them to dissolve. At the same time, I expect people to feel much better within three weeks, and this is merely from observing their mind, practising reduced breathing and feeling their inner body as much as possible.
Incorporating reduced breathing and stillness into your way of life will depend on how you are feeling. Using the Control Pause, state of health and age as a guide, the following approach will provide some insight.
GENTLE APPROACH: NOT WELL, ELDERLY OR HAVE A CP OF LESS THAN 10 SECONDS
- Nasal breathe at all times including at night;
- Gently use the nose unblocking exercise if necessary;
- Watch your thoughts; know what is going through your mind and determine how your thoughts create your mood and how your mood creates your thoughts;
- Feel your inner body during many five-minute pockets throughout the day;
- As you sit in nature or pet an animal such as a dog or cat, feel your inner body;
- Relax your inner body. If your tummy is tense, encourage it to relax through mental commentary;
- Keep your breathing calm at all times; reduce your breathing by relaxing your tummy and chest;
- Avoid excessive talking or other activities that increase breathing;
- Eat food in small quantities;
- Never push yourself during physical exercise beyond the point where you lose control of your breathing;
- Practice the Many Small Breath Holds exercise throughout the day and ensure gentle reduced breathing with small to light medium air shortage. For example, practice two thousand small breath holds and reduced breathing for blocks of five minutes many times throughout the day. (You don’t have to count each breath hold; instead, do as many as possible.) The more severe your symptoms, the greater the number of breath holds and gentle reduced breathing you should undertake.
- Gentle walking each day with mouth closed.
- Use the nose unblocking exercise if your nose gets blocked;
- Keep your mouth closed at all times, including during sleep;
- Observe the antics of your mind and be aware of repetitive thought activity; step outside of thought.
- Feel your inner body for pockets of five minutes many times throughout the day. In school, put 70% of your attention on listening to your teacher and the remaining 30% on your inner body or reduced breathing;
- Use Many Small Breath Holds when you feel stressed;
- When you have no symptoms, walk with breath holds for half an hour each day. For example, hold your breath while walking, on a trampoline, running, riding a horse or whatever physical exercise you like. While exercising, hold your breath for as long as possible without being stressed. At the end of the breath hold, calm your breathing as soon as possible.
- Be aware of the concept of reduced breathing and ensure that your breathing is quiet 24/7. It is not necessary to formally practise reduced breathing, but incorporate it into every activity you do. Remember that when you reduce your breathing, you are improving blood flow and oxygenation of the brain. You are also stepping out of thought during this time.
- Ensure that you relax your tummy and chest. Keep your chest still as you breathe!
AN ADULT WITH A VERY BUSY LIFESTYLE
- Reduce your breathing from the moment you wake up in the morning. For example, while lying in bed for a few minutes, reduce your breathing and create a need for air;
- Feel your inner body as often as you can throughout the day;
- Hold your breath and reduce your breathing. For example, while you are in the shower or washing your hair, hold your breath on the out breath and build up a good need for air;
- Reduce your breathing by relaxing your chest and tummy while you drive to work; ensure that your chest remains still;
- While you walk from your car to work, perform breath holds;
- Go for a 20-minute walk during your lunch break and do many breath holds throughout the walk;
- When you return from work, reduce your breathing in your car, while watching TV or reading a book, etc.;
- When faced with confrontation, bring attention immediately to your inner body. Start off first with small situations. In time, you will be calmer regardless of what is taking place around you.
- If you need to challenge somebody, wait until your anger has passed and approach the individual while keeping most of your attention on your inner body.
- Watch out for repetitive thought processes, especially the recurrent thoughts that take so much of your time, reach no conclusion, create anger and tension and drain you of energy.
Ideally, spend a cumulative 90 minutes per day divided among reducing your breathing, exercising with your mouth closed and feeling the inner body. The best time to reduce your breathing is first thing after waking, during the day and as the last thing at night. In addition, bring plenty of attention to your inner body. This will reward you many-fold.
Pay enough attention to your breathing to increase your CP by an extra 4 seconds each week. If your CP is not increasing from week to week, then pay more attention to your breathing or do the exercises formally by allocating sufficient time to them each day.
A FOOLPROOF WAY TO QUIETEN THE MIND
IF YOU FIND IT DIFFICULT TO STILL THE MIND BY APPLYING ONE OF THE PRACTISES, THEN APPLY TWO AT THE SAME TIME.
WHILE REDUCING YOUR BREATHING, PLACE ATTENTION ON YOUR INNER BODY.
WHILE FEELING YOUR INNER BODY, PUT YOUR SENSES ON WHAT IS TAKING PLACE AROUND YOU. SEE, LISTEN AND FEEL.
WHILE YOU DO WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO, APPLY IT WITH YOUR FULL SENSES TO STAY PRESENT WITH TIME.
IT’S ABOUT REDUCING YOUR RECURRENT AND REPETITIVE THOUGHT ACTIVITY.
YOU HAVE TWO OPTIONS
Have a high CP and observe your mind
Fight your symptoms for the rest of your life. Ignore it at your peril!
After a number of weeks practicing the exercises and with a CP of perhaps 20 seconds, you may reach a plateau where you seem to be making no improvement in your condition and your CP. This can happen regardless of the amount of time you spend at reduced breathing exercises. The best way to increase your CP from 20 to 40 seconds is to partake in physical exercise. If your Control Pause is stubborn, reduce your consumption of food as well to increase your CP more quickly.
In achieving a CP of 40 seconds, your mind will be considerably quieter. The attention you gave to your breathing while reducing it will also play a vital role.
Western society competes for our attention through advertising, media and noise. Give yourself some attention for a change. Your body is not just a head. It starts from your toes and continues right to the top of your head. Disperse your energy throughout and take back what is rightfully yours – your ability to be master over your mind!
MY DIRECT EXPERIENCE
When your mind is still and you give up trying, everything falls into place.
This is common reading in many self-help books. It was something that I came across time and time again. However, for many years I did not give it much heed as it flew in the face of everything that I had been taught over the years: that anything in life worthwhile is achieved through struggle, sweat and hard work.
When I look back at my life in the 1990s, it was an absolute mess. Today, I feel as if it is a past life. I was a chronic mouth breather, culminating with heavy breathing and regular sighing. I was a worrier and constant thinker. I would think and think and think. I was sure that what I was doing was beneficial and that it would propel me forward to get results, to achieve and to do well in life.
In 1992, I secured a place to attend Trinity College Dublin. Things were fine until I reached my third and fourth years. I was aware of the importance of such years and my ultimate goal was to get through each year without fail and to graduate. As a result, I spent every waking moment of the final two years thinking about getting through the exams, receiving my results, graduation day, my job after university and so forth. God only knows how many times I ran the same thoughts through my head – it must have been millions of times, and very possibly was. I reduced my third and fourth years to a constant struggle to finish and reach the end. I was stressed and anxious, and it was all self induced. Nobody else had put any pressure on me. I did it all to myself in the belief that it kept me on track to achieve. In many instances, I completely missed two years of my life as I reduced every moment to a means to achieve my goal.
I intensively studied for exams and spent lots of unproductive time in the library. I worked hard but not smartly. My retention levels decreased significantly given my already excessive thinking. It is difficult to make room for new information when the mind is already overactive. Few gaps existed in my stream of thought to allow new information to enter.
My first job was working in middle management in a USA car rental company. We were indoctrinated into the entire philosophy of the company. I was in my early twenties and an ideal candidate for being moulded and shaped to become a successful employee. After a few months of work, I began to hate the job. I hated the fact that systems and computers dictated and controlled everything that we did. I hated the constant pressure to achieve targets and to constantly better our results. I hated waking up on a Monday morning knowing that I had a full week’s work ahead of me.
I ran this through my head all day. I found like-minded employees and we talked about what a crappy company we worked for.
From the age of 17 to 26 years, I made my life a living hell by constantly running thoughts through my head about the future, college, work, needing to buy a house. For some reason, I had an underlying belief that all of this thinking was beneficial. In fact, it was a form of torture that I subjected myself to on a continual basis.
Two factors changed my life. The first was discovering the work of Dr Buteyko. I switched from mouth to nasal breathing and learned to bring my breathing volume to more normal levels. I did have some ups and downs but this is a normal part of the process. Applying the Buteyko Breathing technique made an enormous difference in my anxiety level. In addition, my brain fog lifted, my asthma reversed, my snoring stopped and my energy levels improved dramatically. In fact my first night’s sleep with my mouth taped was the best sleep I had had in about fifteen years.
The second was attending a workshop that included ideas about stilling the mind and living life. When I left, I walked down Grafton St, one of Dublin’s main streets, with utmost clarity. Everything was so clear and alive. The sights and sounds had a sharpness and brightness that were completely new to me. It was as if my perception had improved many times. I felt at ease, relaxed and still. I knew that I had stumbled upon something but had no idea what it was.
The next morning I awoke and I was back to my usual self, with the continuous chatter of my mind. I had a day’s work to do and targets to achieve. Whatever happened the previous night was just a glimpse, but it was enough to change my life.
A seed had been planted. I decided to go on a two-week course presented by a tutor immersed in stillness. After the two weeks, my mind was emptied of the self-torture that I had endured for so many years. Nothing new was added. Instead, I allowed layers of conditioning and thoughts that I had to dissolve.
I had far more peace than I had ever experienced before. As the days passed, the feeling of stillness and inner body energy intensified.
When I returned home after the two weeks, a massive weight had been lifted from me. For the first time, I realised that the nightmare I was living was as a result of my own thoughts. After a number of months, the intensity decreased but the stillness remained. I continued along my path of watching my mind, following my breath and keeping my mind still. I made a point of taking a short drive from my house to Phoenix Park in Dublin, where I could sit in stillness with nature for an hour or so every couple of days.
After experiencing life-changing health benefits from Buteyko Breathing, I decided to train in the method. By March 2002, I was a certified practitioner and accredited by the founder of the method, Professor Buteyko. I commenced Buteyko courses in Ireland and within two years received considerable media coverage and attention. Now, eight years later, my work takes me around the world. I have written four books, which have become very popular sellers, and have reached out to tens of thousands of people.
In 2005, I married my sweetheart, Sinead, and we bought a stone cottage in a most secluded and beautiful part of Connemara, Co Galway. The house is in the midst of stillness. I have no immediate neighbours and experience absolute quietness.
I have not achieved very much in the area of wealth or finance, but at the same time have no worries over money. What I have achieved is an excellent quality of life. I live in a beautiful setting with a beautiful person, and I love my work. Even if I win the lotto tomorrow, I would continue doing what I do. I left the rat race and am in charge of my own destiny. I am stress-free and honestly believe that no amount of money is worth a stressful life.
Of course, in life things are subject to change. I experienced a little stress while dealing with local rogue builders when we renovated the cottage. I lost my father rather unexpectedly in 2005 and nearly lost my brother a few years earlier. However, all of these things were a lot softer and easier to cope with. In fact, I could not imagine getting through any of them if I had been living my old way.
My point in writing the above is to explain to you that, in the last decade, my life has flowed so much easier and with far more joy than ever before. Furthermore, the only thing I did differently was to correct my breathing, reduce my thought activity and connect with life itself. Instead of struggling, and striving to achieve and succeed, life has come to help me. This might sound cosmic or strange to many readers, and I have no idea what is happening. It does not make logical sense and so much of our world is based on logic. However, I’m not too concerned about that. All I know is that when my thought activity reduced, my life unfolded beautifully around me. Helpful things happened. The right people came along. Ideas came to mind. When I allowed life to happen and did not constantly try to control it with excessive thoughts, ideas came and I seemed to know what to do. You can too!
Most people go through life asleep.
Every moment, their attention is spent in their head.
When attention is in their head, it is not possible to fully relate to life.
They are on autopilot, running their lives according to the nonsense originating in their minds, according to the thoughts and opinions of others.
As long as your attention is on observing your breath, or on feeling your inner body, or is completely on your senses, you are set free.
It is that simple. No longer are you reinforcing the insanity. Step out of thought and live life.
Appendix one A history of Buteyko in North America
For a list of practitioners worldwide, please visit www.ButeykoClinic.com
The Buteyko Breathing Educators Association (BBEA) consists of dedicated and fully trained Buteyko practitioners who provide courses and assistance throughout the USA and Canada. Member practitioners of the BBEA have rich and varied experiences.
Patent of the Buteyko Method
At the time of this writing, no patent exists on the Buteyko Method in the USA or Canada. The Buteyko Method has been in existence in the Western world for the past 20 years. Furthermore, it is not possible to claim rights to or to patent the Buteyko Method. To do so is untrue and misleading to the general public.
Buteyko was first brought from Russia to the Western world by Russian practitioner Alexander Stalmatski. Stalmatski arrived in Sydney, Australia in 1990 and first began teaching friends in a small apartment.
For many years, Dr Buteyko and Alexander kept in touch with each other during the early dissemination of the Buteyko method throughout the Western world.
In the early 1990s, Stalmatski made a number of trips to the UK and USA to train groups of patients and practitioners. Stalmatski also wrote the first books on the Buteyko Method in the Western world, including Freedom from Asthma and Freedom from Insomnia.
Buteyko Pioneers in North America
The Buteyko pioneers in North America are Susan Neves, Bud Weiss and Liv Browning.
Susan Neves. She first began teaching the Buteyko Breathing Method in 1998 after she trained as a educator through the BIBH, an Australian Buteyko Organization. She established Buteyko Asthma Education USA in late 1998 and began teaching throughout the Midwestern, Southern and Eastern states. She and her company have been featured in newspaper articles and television shows in Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, Lexington, Detroit and Indianapolis since that time. In December of 2000, Susan underwent further training under the tutelage of the late Dr Buteyko. Susan currently teaches classes in the United States and is based in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Bud Weiss is a retired high school social worker who trained under Jennifer Stark. Since 1995, he has consistently promoted the Buteyko technique in New York. Over the past fifteen years, Bud has worked tirelessly by organizing workshops and participating in regular radio shows to create more awareness around the importance of correct breathing using the Buteyko Method.
Liv Browning. She originally learned the Buteyko Method as a solution for her own chronic asthma. She later trained in 1999 under Jennifer Stark. She has been asthma free since that time and no longer uses medication. In December 2000, she trained with and earned additional certification from the founder of the method, Dr. Konstantin Buteyko.
First Clinical Trials of Buteyko in North America
The Buteyko Method has produced tremendous results for a variety of conditions, most notably asthma and rhinitis. Several years ago, one million dollars was donated by a wealthy family to fund research after one of its members made an excellent recovery from asthma. Jennifer Stark and Chris Bauman were involved with these trials, which took place at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary, Alberta. Results at six months follow-up included a 41% reduction in the need for inhaled steroids, with asthma control improving from 40% to 79%. Dr Robert Cowie, Chief Respirologist at the Foothills Hospital in Calgary stated the following:
“I’ve been astonished and also very pleased with the excellent result. There is no disruption of their life at all by their disease: normal activities; not waking at night; not needing to use any reliever medications. It’s just great… 75% control is about as good as anyone has got in any study of asthma. The neat thing about it is that it has no side effects. It’s very safe. The Buteyko technique certainly has been shown to be an important adjunct to treatment.” …
Publications by Members of BBEA
Members of the BBEA have produced the most detailed and popular publications on the Buteyko Method. Dr Artour Rakhimov has written two books, including Normal Breathing; the key to vital health. This book is without doubt the most detailed and best researched publication on the Buteyko Method. His other works include a translation of Dr Buteyko’s lectures at Moscow State University, and Oxygenate yourself: Breathe less. His DVD lectures are entitled “Breathing patterns and tissue oxygenation”.
Patrick McKeown has written a number of books, including the best-seller Asthma Free Naturally (Conari Press 2008), Close Your Mouth, Anxiety Free: Stop Worrying and still Your Mind, and ABC to be Asthma Free. Other works include a Buteyko DVD and CD.
Buteyko training in the USA and Canada
Each year, a number of Buteyko practitioner training courses are held throughout the USA and Canada. Practitioner trainers include Chris Bauman and Patrick McKeown. Chris was the first Buteyko practitioner in Canada and trained under Jennifer Stark in 2007. Patrick trained in Moscow in 2002 and is accredited by the late Dr Buteyko. Chris and Patrick have been teaching practitioners since 2005 and have to date trained practitioners from 11 different countries.
Appendix Two Websites to visit
Worldwide list of practitioners including Europe, North America, and Asia, practitioner training, videos of Dr Buteyko.
Authors Buteyko DVD, books, online courses and free video segments.
Buteyko practitioners in UK.
Buteyko Northern Ireland
Carol Baglia, USA Buteyko practitioner
Eugenia Malyshev, USA Buteyko practitioner
Online courses, books, information regarding the negative effects of mouth breathing.
Members of non profit organisation Buteyko Breathing Educators.
Appendix three References
Chapter two – The Buteyko Method
- The American Journal of Medicine; December 1986; Volume 81; p989. Hyperventilation Syndrome and Asthma. (Demeter, Cordasco.)
- Cited in Multidisiplinary approaches to breathing disorders by Leon Chaitow, Dinah Bradley and Christopher Gilbert.
- Gibbs DM 1992 Hyperventilation induced cerebral ischemia in panic disorder and effects of nimodipine. American journal of Psychiatry 149: 1589-1591
- Ball, Shekhar A 1997 Basilar artery response to hyperventilation in panic disorder American journal of psychiatry 154 (11): 1603-1604
- Balestrino M, Somjen GG, Concentration of carbon dioxide, interstitial pH and synaptic transmission in hippocampal formation of the rat, J Physiol 1988, 396: 247-266.
- Huttunen J, Tolvanen H, Heinonen E, Voipio J, Wikstrom H, Ilmoniemi RJ, Hari R, Kaila K, Effects of voluntary hyperventilation on cortical sensory responses. Electroencephalographic and magnetoencephalographic studies, Exp Brain Res 1999, 125(3): 248-254.
- Artour Rakhimov Ph.D, Normal Breathing- The key to vital health
- The Hyperventilation Syndrome, Robert Fried
- Hyperventilation: the tip and the iceberg by L.C. Lum Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Vol. 19, pp. 375 to 383. Pergamon Press, 1975. Printed in Great Britain