Guest blogger Dr. Paul Jenkins works with organizations and individuals to establish and maintain habitual patterns of positive perception and focus that increase happiness, engagement, productivity, profit, and ultimate achievement of professional and personal life missions.
What is your greatest barrier to success, joy, great relationships?
Fear and anxiety.
Would you like to end the fear, anxiety and worry that interferes with your relationships and get in the way of your success and joy?
Two things create – and cure – anxiety.
The brain and the mind.
When you understand the interplay between the brain and the mind, then you are in a perfect position to understand the secret to overcoming fear, anxiety, and worry.
Your brain is not your mind any more than your liver is your mind. Your brain is a part of your body. It is a specialized group of cells that performs a specific function. Your brain is an organ in your body – your mind does the thinking. The answer to your anxiety is understanding what the brain is doing, and steering your mind a different direction.
Understanding and applying a few basic principles in both of these areas makes an
immediate and lasting difference in my clients breaking free from anxiety and moving forward with power in their lives. The short version: Get the brain to calm down and get the mind to come up with new answers.
The brain is designed to respond to threat in a predictable way. Part of its job is to keep you safe and alive. Because of this important job, the brain kicks into what we collectively refer to as the fight or flight response any time a threat is detected. This is true for both real and perceived threats. Chemicals are released into the blood stream which quicken the heart, speed up the breathing, and empower muscles to react with more power and speed. There is also a shut-down of higher cognitive functioning. Contemplating philosophy does not serve you well during an attack from a ferocious lion.
Taming the fight or flight response starts with switching the brain back to thinking mode. Can you imagine installing a switch in your brain that shuts down the fight or flight response and turns the thinking back on?
Breathing exercises provide a switch in your brain. The fight or flight response causes alterations to your breathing (it gets rapid and shallow). By taking intentional control over this typically automatic process, you can directly affect the fight or flight response at a brain level.
Toolbox - Conscious and Focused Breathing - Practice Protocol
- Choose a time and place where you can be undisturbed for 5-10 minutes.
- Assume a comfortable sitting or lying position.
- Breathe in through your nose, making it a point to gently stretch your lungs.
- Hold for 10 to 15 seconds – feel the stretch.
- Slowly exhale through your mouth. Blow like you are blowing out birthday candles. Restrict the flow somewhat. Push it out. It should take you about twice as long to exhale as it took to inhale. Normally when you exhale, you leave some air in your lungs; try to push it all out.
- Repeat steps three through five.
- Notice the feeling of calm relaxation you feel as you complete the exercise. This is your brain switching from fight/flight to rational/think mode.
Do this practice exercise for 3-5 repetitions, 3 times a day, for 5 days.
As you get better at it, a simpler form of this technique can be used in the moment when anxiety attacks. One intentional breath makes a big difference. This effectively calms the brain's fight or flight response.
Stay tuned for Part II of Dr. Paul Jenkins' guest blog post, Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking.
About the Author
Dr. Paul Jenkins works with organizations and individuals to establish and maintain habitual patterns of positive perception and focus that increase happiness, engagement, productivity, profit, and ultimate achievement of professional and personal life missions.
With two decades of experience as a professional psychologist, Dr. Paul (as he is known to clients and his audiences) lays out the how and the why behind the art and science of being constructive in an often destructive environment. It is like having an owner’s manual for your brain – one you can actually read, understand, and apply. You understand your own mind and improve its functioning on purpose.
His deeply thoughtful writing, engaging and fun keynote addresses, powerfully practical breakout seminars, individual and corporate coaching and counseling are profound and simple. His clients, readers, and audiences get an iron grip on powerful Pathological Positivity principles that make an immediate difference in their personal and professional lives.