Myths

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Well, the other day I was going to my bank to do a transaction when I was asked to swipe my card to confirm my pin number, I realized I lost my ATM card. In the process of talking to my banker, she asked me what I did, and I answered that I thought breathing by conserving carbon dioxide and HRV variation. This caught her attention. So I gave a little explanation given that it is carbon dioxide levels in the brain that actually regulates the breathing if we allow it, by triggering the diaphragm. Then she asks me an interesting question; can you lose weight by breathing? This intrigued me because I only have a hypothesis at this time, I answered yes, and that it was possible given what I understood of physiology.

That is, overbreathing can cause vasoconstriction to blood vessels and impede blood flow to the all of the organs of the body including the brain. As I understood it, the brain consumes about 20-25% of the body’s oxygenation and a good amount of blood sugar. If that is compromised, I suppose one could feel hunger and still have plenty blood sugar, except that the brain does not perceive it that way. Of course, there are plenty of other reasons, like hormones, exercise, sleep cycles, the types of food being eaten, etc…

Then she proceeded to tell me that she had watched an infomercial where this one lady was selling a program which she bought. It was teaching very deep breathing for minutes at time saying that you needed more oxygen to burn of the fat. Then my banker went on to explain some of signs and symptoms of overbreathing (blowing off too much carbon dioxide) like tingling in the hands, lightheadedness, dizziness, inability to focus, and was wondering if such a program would actually work, according to what I knew. Judging on her physical appearance she still seemed overweight to me, so I said I didn’t think that severe overbreathing would be that helpful for controlling weight problems if anything perhaps making it worst. Then she said she had seen on TV for many years….so the programs must have been successful, to which I said “financially” yes perhaps but the result she got, didn’t look so good. I explained that if she conserved her carbon dioxide, she might feel less hungry because there was more blood flood going to the brain and as a result she would have more blood sugar and oxygen with the right amount of carbon dioxide to regulate the blood PH. Which would help regulate cellular oxygenation. Well anyway that is my hypothesis for the moment…until I find a better one.

John Kelly RN

1 605 610 9014

breatheheartfully@gmail.com

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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!

photo 12861 201002231 150x150 Breathing Heartfully what?

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 (www.biof.com/stens.html). 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 (www.arthuryoung.com), the developer of the Bell Helicopter, to study his Theory of Process there I met Bob Whitehouse Ed.D…

photo 19469 201008044 300x199 Breathing Heartfully what?

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: (www.breatheheartfully.com) 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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Breathe Deeply?

8 breathing2 150x150 Breathe Deeply?

Is it healthy?

Why was I so often drowsy when doing the deep breathing that I had been taught in meditation, yoga, and biofeedback? I wondered this for over 3o years.  I didn’t find out why until I measured my ETCO₂ (my breathing chemistry) with a CapnoTrainer while breathing deeply. Wow, was I surprised when I saw that my CO₂  significantly dropped then.  This means that I was actually shorting myself of oxygen.  What I mistook for a relaxed meditative state was actually a lethargic, hypoxic state where I was taking in too much air and not letting it all back out.  The Easterners had it right.  It’s not about TAKING a breath, it’s about finishing a breath, completing the exhale. That’s what get’s the oxygen to the bloodstream and brain.

Yes, the deep breath feels relaxing to many, and probably for several reasons:  1. That is what we are told to do when stressed, so we expect it to help.  2. It takes our awareness inward.  3. When we take deeper breaths, we usually slow our breathing, which slows our heart rate and calms the system.  BUT, if your deep breath is one that actually shorts your oxygen supply, that is definitely not good because it means everything will start to constrict due to loss of oxygen.

SO, if a deep breath isn’t a guarantee of getting more oxygen from your lungs to your bloodstream and brain, then HOW DO YOU KNOW if your breathing is giving you the right amount of oxygen?  There is one way that is scientifically accurate and one way that is a best guess.  The sure way is the use of a capnometer (the more scientific oriented method is to use a capnometer which measures carbon dioxide such as the “CapnoTrainer” which also measures Heart Rate Variability, HRV).  The best guess is not by pulse ox (oximeter) but by noticing the symptoms that accompany lowered ETCO₂ and lowered oxygen, like feeling light-headed or short of breath (see symptom checklist on our website www.BreatheHeartfully.com).

When I first jogged regularly,  around the same time I started meditation and yoga, I wore one of the first heart rate monitors and was baffled by how much my heart rate was jumping around.  I wasn’t sure whether the there was something wrong with the heart rate monitor or me, so I checked both out.  For myself, I found I had a few PVCs, which can be very dangerous and cause sudden heart attacks. I overcame those working with breathing and heart rate monitoring and exercise moderation.  Only later did I find out that our heart rate is supposed to vary rhythmically, both at rest and while being active. For example, when at rest, when we breathe in our heart rate (HR) increases and when we breathe out it decreases.   How much it varies is called HRV. The least healthy is to have a steady or irregular heart rate, with not much rhythmic variability.  In fact regularly low HRV is a predictor of all causes of death and a correlate of negative emotions and poor health.  And the converse is true also—greater HRV is a correlate of good cardiovascular health and of more positive emotional states, better cognitive and physical performance, greater intuition, and much more.  For more.

Now, I am happy to BreatheHeartfully as we go into the Art and Science of Better Breathing and Greater Heart Rate Variability for your health and enjoyment and for your very BEST. My motto is OPT for the BEST, my acronym for: Optimal Performance Training for the Body, Emotions, Spirit, & Thoughts.

I look forward to being of help and service. Well come and see our programs, biofeedback instruments, trainings, presentation and resources.

Till we connect again,

Bob Whitehouse, EdD  7/19/2010

breatheheartfully@gmail.com

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Bob Whitehouse EdD and John Kelly RN would like to invite you to discover and explore The Art and Science of Breathing and Heart Rate Variability….for blog august 20101 300x64 Welcome!

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