Inhale . . . Exhale . . .
Why is breathing so effective for tempering stress?
Maybe you are aware of the two autonomic nerves referred to as the sympathetic nerve and the parasympathetic nerve. When the sympathetic nerve is stimulated, you get excited, and when the parasympathetic nerve is stimulated you can relax. These are often referred to as “fight or flight” and “rest and digest.”
Gentle breathing has a direct effect on the parasympathetic nerve, and will calm you down. However, the busier a businessperson gets, the harder it is to breathe calmly. This is because business frequently demands the exact opposite of gentle breathing.
According to Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, you are doing the following when you are breathing gently: focusing on the present moment, and not making any judgments. In other words, you can focus on the flow of your breath at the present moment. Even if you notice a negative emotion, you can say to yourself, “Wow, I’m quite angry right now,” without passing any judgment. This feeling of mindfulness is what helps you relax.
Breathing for Business
Meanwhile, in business, we often focus on the past and the future, but rarely on this very moment. You may analyze the past while planning for the future, but there is never any “now.”
Additionally, businesspeople are constantly pressured to make judgments. Is it a good or bad idea? Are we going with option A or B? What can you tell me from the data? What’s your opinion? We are constantly forced to answer tough questions like these on a daily basis.
Like anything else in life, balance is essential. Of course, the past and the future are crucial, but this very moment is just as important. You need to be able to maintain balance, and you can do that through gentle breathing.
Gentle breathing does not just calm your mind. While breathing this way is one type of so-called meditation, the Yoga Sutras, which were written several thousand years ago, describe several positive effects of meditation. Specifically, how meditation will grant you the wisdom of a wise man, enable you to read people’s minds, and help you obtain an incredibly strong body.
Breathing as a Superpower
Gentle breathing can make you like Superman!
I can almost hear you shouting, “That’s impossible!” However, recent research has demonstrated that this is not entirely fiction. It’s really fascinating to come across this link between ancient texts and modern science. The effects of meditation can be translated as such:
・Heightened intelligence, memory, creativity, and concentration (wisdom from a wise man)
・Increased sympathize with people more (read people’s minds)
・Stronger immunity and faster recovery from stress (obtain an incredibly strong body)
Gentle breathing works like a wonder drug—and it’s totally free. In addition, breathing is obviously portable, so it’s also very convenient. To put this into business jargon, I guess you could say that gentle breathing is very cost-effective.
Such being the case, I suggest you try gentle breathing not only when you feel anger rising, but whenever you can in your daily life. For example, gently breathing while you’re waiting for the railroad crossing during your commute to work. Whenever you have some extra time on your hands, it’s a very wise way to spend your time.
Once gentle breathing becomes a part of your daily lifestyle, becoming emotional may be a thing of the past.