Good breathing is like going to the toilet, if you don’t aim you miss, but then you have to let go in order to reach your goal!

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Golden Gate Bridge photo by Paul Martin Elridge

After I visiting my medical intuitive (see my previous blog), I completed the first Trainers Training in NLP, in White Oaks in Maryland. I eventually went back to California and continued to work as a psych nurse, on the adult, adolescent and pediatric units and sometimes on the chemical dependency unit. As  a per Diem nursing staff at the hospital I was available to help and assist for Stens Corporation a company that specialized in biofeedback instruments and training locally mostly in the San Francisco Bay area and nationally as well ( Being certified by the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA) allowed me the freedom to help, assist and coach in workshops which gave me the opportunity to develop an experiential and clinical knowledge of biofeedback over a number of years. What got me so interested in Biofeedback was that people could teach themselves to manage their involuntary or autonomic nervous system, I was encouraged by that as an alternative to allopathic medicine. Needless to say nursing and biofeedback seem to fit each other like hand and glove, and a 5 day workshop is not enough to really impart the breath and depth of the biofeedback field EEG, EMG, HRV etc…

I also pursued further studies up  in Complexity theory with Alder Fuller Ph.d in Eugene Oregon which lead me hopefully to a better understanding of how feedback functions in nature. I also had the opportunity to spent time at The Institute for  the Study of Consciousness in Berkeley with Arthur Young (, the developer of the Bell Helicopter, to study his Theory of Process there I met Bob Whitehouse Ed.D…

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Photographer: Evgeni Dinev

Well, I knew back then that breathing was pretty important, in the process of biofeedback. At that time we would put on respiratory belts and have people breathing in certain patterns at certain rates in certain locations of the body and bring that to their awareness. This seemed maybe a little too mechanical but there are people out there with pretty severe perceptual deficits, who needed to get back in touch with their bodies. We did do the job as to how and where one should breathe except for one thing;  teach the regulation of appropriate depth because we didn’t have the right tools to evaluate and there were many misperceptions. Depth of breathing would later on bring me to look at capnometry which would allow a person to measure the carbon dioxide at the end of the breath. Capnometry was not being taught at the time. And because of a disconnect in what I was experiencing namely, that while I was practicing HRV biofeedback, I was getting anxious, less internally coherent, and slightly more agitated, and this went on for few years in my personal practice. The introduction to capnometric feedback  became an essential aspect on how to resolve and my internal dissonance that I wasn’t getting the results from my HRV practice I thought I should be getting even though I was coaching, practicing and experiencing  HRV according to the expert recommendations. How was it possible that I wasn’t necessarily feeling better, if anything sometimes more anxious, my blood pressure was going up as I was having peripheral vasoconstriction (constriction of the peripheral bloods vessels). The HRV was supposed to help regulate those signs and symptoms I was having. I could synchronize my heart with the breath and be in”good phase angle” meaning that my breath and heart rhythm where in synchrony. Later I was to find out that this may be a breathing artifact and it didn’t have much do with my autonomic nervous system as represented by the software. We will get talking about that later with my business partner  Bob Whitehouse Ed.D, see our website: ( is suggesting that if we don’t apply some critical thinking in this area we may end up with artifacts that are passing as off as good autonomic balance.  I could also produce “good amplitude” which reflects the difference in the number of heart beats at maximum beats per minute and at minimum and therefore, supposedly regulate the autonomic nervous system. However as a practice on the instrument my amplitude would decrease. I had at least for a while “good form” which reflects the matching synchronization of the acceleration and deceleration of the heart beats when I stopped training myself.

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Image: Kane Gledhill

In comes Ira Rosenberg MA, to teach a weekend workshop in HRV, who actually helped me put myself into tail spin for understanding a component of HRV. He talked about the heart having its own rhythms and that it handled over 4000 different variables. He felt that since there were so many variables that the HRV had to be reeducated or learnt almost every day. He also said that  if you map or model the heart you could map on a surface of torus which brings me back to some of the ideas of Arthur Young whom I previously mentioned. When HRV was initially taught, it was thought that if one breathed around 6 breaths minutes, one could increase HRV. As most nurses would know, this breathing rate for adults this pretty slow but still adequate.  The breath is both under conscious volition, and unconscious learning and processing (operant and classical conditioning). It became more obvious to me that one could entrain the heart around 6 breaths/min and then focus on the heart so that if one had enough discrimination to feel the acceleration and deceleration of the heart beat, one could switch from breathing the heart to having our heart breathe us, the beginning of “Breathing Heartfully”. When the heart dictates its own rhythm and shapes the breathing perhaps it is here we have true feedback, in terms of biofeedback. By decoupling (the phase angle) of the breath from the heart wave one could perhaps see, hear, or feel the heart wave and if it wasn’t influenced by the breath, then we may have a criterion that we have the heart wave. Eventually, we could sensitize ourselves to the acceleration and deceleration of the heart beats by taking or feeling our pulse or putting ear plugs in so you hear your heart beating or even listening through a stethoscope. So here is the caveat: if the carbon dioxide levels in the blood are adequate, then training the HRV should reflect good blood perfusion and pretty good cellular respiration and autonomic regulation (sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems balance). As the literature would suggest HRV is one of the best health indicators.(there are 1000′s of references for that: Gervitz, Lehrer, HeartMath…etc)

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