I don’t know about you, but anything that can help me conserve energy is a massive bonus. We live in a modern world that is in many ways designed to keep us in a state of constant stress. Hanging out all day in our sympathetic nervous systems, aka Fight or Flight is uber un-cool, and what we really need is quick and easy daily hack that can sooth that stressed response and take us into our parasympathetic nervous system, aka Rest and Digest?
Possible? Absolutely! And it’ easier than you may think…
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Welcome back to Broad New World. I’m your host, Nick Broadhurst. You can catch all of my music at www.broadhurst.world including my music videos, podcasts and blog posts, and if you love Spotify as much as me, you can catch all of my music and this podcast actually at broadhurst.world/spotify. That tune you were listening to is called The One and I wrote that for my beautiful wife. It’s a song about how we show up for each other and what we represent in each other’s lives. One of the lyrics in that is, “You are such a shiny mirror, you force me to surrender.”
And I feel like in relationships, they are this incredible opportunity to grow. This beautiful container that if we really respect it, it becomes like an accelerator for our own individual personal evolution, transformation. And Melissa, for me, really provides that in so many ways. She’s such a shiny mirror. I’ve got nowhere to hide, can’t be average and that is what being in a beautiful relationship is all about. And that is The One. You can catch that at broadhurst.world/theone.
So today I’m going to be talking to you about something which — I mean every day I feel like I’m talking about something that’s important. But I love this topic so much because I do feel that every single one of us can benefit from this very, very simple, simple, simple, simple technique. You know what, sometimes in life the simple things are often the best and this is definitely the case with what we’re going to talk about today. So the heading for today’s episode is, “Feeling stressed? Try this.” Right?
So I want to talk to you first about two different parts of our nervous system, that is the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. Now, the sympathetic nervous system activates what’s called our Fight or Flight response. And that’s often where you see the heart rate increase, our stomachs stop many of its normal functions like digestive juices being created, and this can be triggered by pretty much anything that creates stress. It could be watching the news, scrolling Instagram, crossing the street, trying to meet an urgent deadline. Whatever it is, we’re surrounded by triggers everyday which activate our sympathetic nervous system.
Now, the problem with that is that we’re not supposed to be spending very much time in the sympathetic nervous system because it was designed to really help us survive; to run away from predators, to hunt, and then if we got chased by a tiger, we would then if we escaped, we would go about and rest, and we would bring our nervous systems back down. But because of the modern world, we find ourselves in a state of constantly being chased by the tiger, right? It happens all day.
So I want to ask you a question. How much rest do you get each day? How much rest do you get? Now, if you’re a regular meditator, that’s awesome because you’re giving your nervous system that little vacation every day. But lack of rest often means too much time in the sympathetic nervous system which means, potentially, things like adrenal fatigue which we all want to avoid; and I’ve been there and it’s the pits. And it’s really, you know, it takes time and dedication to recover from, so let’s not get ourselves into the state of adrenal fatigue, right?
So how do we do that? Let’s talk about the other part of the nervous system. Now this is the parasympathetic system. This is what’s often called the “Rest and Digest” part of our nervous system. What does it do? It conserves energy. I want to say that again; the parasympathetic nervous system conserves energy. Now, how important is that? Can I say it one more time? It conserves energy. It slows the heart rate and it increases your digestive juices. It’s like the opposite of the sympathetic.
Now, the challenge is we don’t all have a long time every day to take rests. We just don’t and it’s often very hard to take time out. So how can we do this every single day in a way that’s actually doable? I would love for all of us to be able to go into an office and meditate for 20 minutes. Sometimes that’s just not possible. So is there a little hack that can take us there every day? Is there something that we can do which takes our nervous system on vacation and gets us into parasympathetic more often? Well it just so happens that there is.
Before I go into that, I want to mention two different types of meditation, where they stem from. The first one would be monastic; monastic, meaning that it originates in monasteries and is generally practiced by people who are somewhat isolated, such as monks. These monastic practices are very, very powerful if you have the time and space to really get into them and not be disrupted, and you have the time, which a lot of us don’t have. Some of these practices when we have a lot going on in our life, they can be a bit hard sometimes.
So, many, many, many thousands of years ago in India when households started being created and we had marriages and financial systems and debt — we’re going back thousands of years here, but we had a very, very similar way of life. Out of that stemmed a vedic practice of meditation which is transcendental, which you’ve heard me speak about in a previous episode called Meditation Made Easy, and what’s great about transcendental meditation is that it’s an integrated practice, meaning you integrate it into your life.
Now, the technique I’m going to share with you today I don’t want it to become a replacement for something like transcendental pr vedic meditation because I feel they are the foundation. But I want to talk to you today about a very simple technique called Two to One Breathing.
Now, we all breathe, we all spend time breathing, so what if we could just tweak it a little bit so that we become more aware of our breath first of all, and we just find tune it in moments that can take us from sympathetic to parasympathetic. It’s really that simple. So how does it work?
So essentially all you’re doing is when you breathe in, let’s just use seconds as an example. You might breathe in for say three seconds which is one, and you breathe out for six, which is two. That’s Two to One Breathing. So it’s in for one, out for two. So I find that three to six seems to work really nicely for me.
In a nutshell what does this do, how does it work? It basically helps take your nervous system on that little vacation by extending the period of parasympathetic activity within each breath. Does that make sense? This is essentially decreasing nerve activity in the sympathetic nervous system. And we could all have more of that, right? As I said before, we’re all breathing, we’re all doing this every single day, so why not optimize it?
Now do you have to sit in lotus pose and close your eyes and put your hands on your knees? No, you don’t. You don’t have to do it at all, but once you start doing this technique, when you start practicing this regularly, what you’ll notice is you can do this almost all the time. You become so hyper aware of your breath, that simple awareness is what takes you into parasympathetic.
So you can be driving and you might just feel like you’re fully not breathing down in the belly. You’re breathing up in the chest, in the shoulders. So be really mindful of where your breath is. Is it in your shoulders or in your belly? So getting it into your belly is a really powerful way to just tell your nervous system “Oh yeah, that’s right. Let’s chill out now.”
So right now I’m actually in my shoulders. I can feel it, probably because I’m concentrating and I’m delivering some content. But I know straight away if I just stop and relax and shift my awareness into my belly, and slow my heart rate down, all of a sudden I can feel that shift. How long did that take? It literally took me 5 seconds. Now, we all have five seconds, don’t we? We can’t say we don’t have five seconds. I kid you not, that’s all it takes sometimes.
So next time you feel stressed, I really encourage you to try Two to One Breathing. Actually, I could call it One to Two Breathing because I like to think of it as in for one, out for two. So possibly three seconds in, six seconds out, something like that.
Give it a go. I would love to hear from you; and you know what, there’s really no excuse. This is a very simple scientifically proven technique that’s hacking into your parasympathetic nervous system. Every single one of us needs more of this every single day, so it doesn’t matter where you are. You’re driving your car, you’re sitting at your desk, you’re having dinner, wherever you are this can be done, okay?
So please do share with me on social media. Tag me @IAmNickBroadhurst and use the hashtag #broadnewworld, and let me know how this works for you. Try it out today and please do tag me. I’d love to hear from you.
I hope you enjoyed that, it’s a really powerful simple hack which I absolutely love, and since I have been doing for the last maybe six months, it really has brought so much awareness into my breath. Breath really is chi, is prana, it’s the force, the vitality of life. So if we can do something each day to help us master that and optimize that, it’s only going to benefit us in a huge, huge way.
So for all the show notes you can head to broadhurst.world/12 for this episode, and you can now also get the full transcript of every single show, which is really awesome. So please do head to iTunes. Leave me a five-star review and tell me what it is you love, what you want to hear more of, and any suggestions you have I’m all ears.
I’m at your service, and as always, have a beautiful day and I love you, heaps. Ciao!