“Fear is excitement without the breathe” ~ Fredrick Solomon Perls
While listening to Gay Hendricks’s wonderful book “The Big Leap — Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take your life to the next level” I was exposed to this simple technique.
Hendricks explains that Fear is nothing but lack of breath in your brain. So what is the technique: Breath Into Your Fear!
Hendricks goes on to explain in his book (here is the relevant extract from the book)
“There’s only one way to get through the fog of fear, and that’s to transform it into the clarity of exhilaration. One of the greatest pieces of wisdom I’ve ever heard comes from Fritz Perls, MD, the psychiatrist and founder of Gestalt therapy. He said, ‘Fear is excitement without the breath.’ Here’s what this intriguing statement means: the very same mechanisms that produce excitement also produce fear, and any fear can be transformed into excitement by breathing fully with it. On the other hand, excitement turns into fear quickly if you hold your breath. When scared, most of us have a tendency to try to get rid of the feeling. We think we can get rid of it by denying or ignoring it, and we use holding our breath as a physical tool of denial.
It never works, though, because as Dr. Perls has pointed out, the less breath you feed your fear, the bigger your fear gets. The best advice I can give you is to take big, easy breaths when you feel fear. Feel the fear instead of pretending it’s not there. Celebrate it with a big breath, just the way you’d celebrate your birthday by taking a big breath and blowing out all the candles on your cake. Do that, and your fear turns into excitement. Do it more, and your excitement turns into exhilaration.”
Then I went to do some more research to find some resource from what Fritz Perls, MD, in the Gestalt therapy. And I noted one clarification about what breathe means. He explains as follows:
“……know that breathing means exhaling. There is a fetish in our time about breathing, the big chest, the he-man fetish that thinks breathing is inhaling. But breathing means throwing out the bad air. You would not go to a basin and wash your hands with the water, dirty water, half full in the basin. And you don’t pour clean water on top of it. Now the same with breathing. First get rid of the bad air, the carbon dioxide, and then bring in the fresh air. If you can do this, the acute state of anxiety, or asthma, will very quickly disappear. As a matter of fact, in asthma, you often see children forcefully exhaling, “Wwhueeeue . . . “ “whueeeue . . .” Thus nature takes over.”
I practiced this breathing technique, and it made me think, “Yes, this thing works.” The more I focussed on the breath — not merely focussed rather tried to take deeper breathes till the depth of my stomach and exhaling fully; it felt quite relieving. It was surprising that merely getting the deeper breath and full exhaling induces relaxation in the brain. So next question was how come breathing till the stomach brings the results like peace and relaxation in the brain? How merely could such long breathing push away the negative emotions of fear or anxiety and rather feel joyful?
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So I dug deeper and further and found something very interesting and scientific fact related to connection with a stomach as well. Let me state that here as well.
If you don’t know already, the human body has a second brain in the stomach in our gut or alimentary canal, which contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. Also, 95% of the primary brain chemical “serotonin’, also known as ‘happy chemical, is found in the bowels area of human being. A big part of our emotions is probably influenced by the nerves in our gut. Scientists say — Butterflies in the stomach — signaling in the gut as part of our physiological stress response, is but one example.
Also, traditional Chinese medicine recognizes the significance of stomach areas as the centre of energy of human beings. They say that a person should find their center to restore their health and energy. What they mean by this is bringing your awareness to the stomach region, which is a major energy center
“The quality of our breath expresses our inner feelings” ~ TKV Desikachar
So next time, you feel fearful to take action, use this breath technique to calm down your mind and soon you will find yourself in a different extreme of excitement. In that state of mind, you will start improving the receptacle of your mind to be more resourceful, and your thoughts will lead you to the right set of people and opportunities to work with, rather than infected with inaction and indecision bug.
If You want to overcome your thought of “What if I Fail?“, then you would also want to check out my book “WHAT IF I FAIL?”
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