Two days after listening to the Rich Roll podcast with Dan Harris, I remain intrigued around an experience that Mr. Harris had with Eckhart Tolle. The podcast interview surrounds the release of Dan’s book 10% Happier. He recounts a panic attack that he experienced on live television and his path to meditation that followed. Resistant at first, something that I can relate to very well, he eventually found himself assigned to cover religion for ABC news and suddenly in the presence of many people of faith. He said that it changed his life in terms of understanding how the world works. His producer then recommended that he read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now where he learned about the voice in our heads, the ego and how to control it. Harris claims that this was the first book that spoke to him despite not always understanding Tolle’s tactics. Which leads me to the experience…
While in the company of Mr. Tolle, after reading his book, Harris asked him, “What can we do about the voice in our head?” Tolle’s response was, “Take one conscious breath”. Harris did not grasp this advice, in fact he described it as being unhelpful to him. My eyes widened as I was surprised to hear this reaction.
I talk about the power of one conscious breath all the time. To myself, my husband, my clients and students. I’ve said many times and firmly believe that, one conscious breath a day can make more space in your life. It never occurred to me that maybe the recipients of my conscious breath advice may not fully understand what that means and therefore find it unhelpful. The opposite of my intention. So I keep thinking about that interview and I keep thinking about how big a tool the conscious breath has been in my life. I feel compelled to break it down in hopes of clearing up any ambiguity surrounding its purpose or power.
How does it work?
To breath consciously means to put 100% of your awareness on your breath. When you have 100% of your focus on your breath there is 0% focus on your ego, the voice in your head. This means 0% focus on judgements, worry, dwelling, insecurity, anxiousness etc. Each breath is taken in the present moment so when you tune into your breath 100% you are immediately anchored into the present moment.
How to take a conscious breath.
I’m someone who doesn’t screw around when it comes to getting present and dissing my ego so I make this breath a complete experience. The following step by step is what I find to be a robust and effective way to take a conscious breath using ujjayi breath.
Ujjayi breath which is a yogic breath that flows in and out through the nose. To obtain this breath, simply breathe in through your nose then breathe out through your mouth as if you were fogging a mirror. Do that a few times noticing a constriction in the back of your throat then close your mouth, keeping the constriction exhale through your nose and continue with nose breathing.
Step by step:
1) Stop what you are doing, put down your phone.
2) Take a slow long breath in through your nose. Try for a count of four to six, filling all the way until you feel a gentle pressure in your chest and lungs.
3) Hold your breath in for 2-3 heartbeats.
4) Calmly breathe out extending the exhale longer than your inhale. Exhalation is governed by the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), your rest and healing nervous system so by breathing out longer you will activate the PNS.
5) Hold your breath out until you feel the impulse to breathe in again. Then slowly, watch for gulping, refill with air and resume normal breathing
Why should you take a conscious breath?
This is a sure fire, free, can do it anywhere, fast lane button to slowing down. It will bring you into presence and away from the voice in your head which much prefers to dwell about something in the past or try to control something in the future. Coming into the present moment with full awareness will show you truth while greatly benefiting your body and mind through the activation of your PNS. Most importantly it will quiet the voice in your head and give you a beautiful glimpse into a peaceful mind. Just start with one conscious breath a day. Consistency will bring about the changes, so master one breath a day and move on from there.