Breathing to access your right mind

(An essay on the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing and positive imagery)

Imagine your most stressful negative moment, how do you deal with a situation like this? You are hyperventilating, taking shallow quick breaths, you are frozen up and stiff, you cannot function. When you are panicked you always get the same advice; “take some deep breaths”. There is truth to this, but you have to make sure that you are breathing correctly. Dyphragmatic breathing can not only help you recover from stress, but can aid in positivity and attitude change, it is overall the most efficient and natural way to breathe. It is regulalry used in choir to maintain longer notes, and in swim team to be able to take less breaths while taking in more oxygen. Throughout this year Diaphragmatic breathing has helped me acheive and become so much more than I used to be.

I am a Junior in Highschool, I take classes like AP English, HL Biology, and IB Philosophy. On top of many hours of rigorous courses everyday at school, I have musical instruments that I need to practice every day, and I need to attend both 6:40 in the morning rehearsals and rehearsals after school. Afterschool extra curriculars, like sports, consume even more of my time. These activities add even more stress to the anxiety from this awkward stage of life inbetween youth and adulthood.

I have been able to maintain focus this school year, as well as destroy stress by practicing Diaphragmatic breathing. I can include it in any activity in order to stay relaxed, while maintaining focus. During cross country races, as well as music practices, school work and any activity, I am able to focus through imagery and breathing. I take in a long slow breath through my nose, and let my stomach expand and grow outwards rather than taking a shallow breath just through my lungs. Next I release all of the air and my stomach shrinks. I repeat this and get into a kind of flowing rhythm as I clear my mind of all thoughts. This relaxes me and lets me focus on the only thing that is important at the time; my running technique instead of the pain I am feeling, the work that I am focusing on and learning rather than the grade I want, the notes I am playing rather than the musician I want to be. This can be applied to any situation that you are in, and will help you focus all effort on the only important thing. Worrying about what will happen in the material world will only make it harder for you to take action. First focus on what you can do in your mind, and then the results will come.

The science behind Diaphragmatic breathing preaches its benefits. It is the most efficient and natural way for you to breathe. The Diaphragm is a large dome shaped muscle just below the lungs. Your abdominal muscles help expand and empty your lungs. This deep breathing brings relaxation throughout your body, and triggers your parasympathetic nervous system (AKA the relaxation system of the body). The breathing connects your body and your mind and allows you to concentrate more on what you want to focus on, rather than being distracted by negative things. According to the Mayo Clinic staff of 2011 benefits of Diaphragmatic breathing are:

(Provided by the Employee Wellness Program at Northern Michigan University)(https://www.nmu.edu/wellness/sites/DrupalWellness/files/UserFiles/9.19_final.pdf)

Practicing Diaphragmatic breathing regularly will have a huge impact on your life, and will eventually become a part of your daily routine. “Diaphragmatic breathing is intended to help you use the diaphragm correctly while breathing to:

  • Strengthen the diaphragm
  • Decrease the work of breathing by slowing your breathing rate
  • Decrease oxygen demand
  • Use less effort and energy to breathe”

(Cleveland Clinic) (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Understanding_COPD/hic_Pulmonary_Rehabilitation_Is_it_for_You/hic_Diaphragmatic_Breathing)

(Cleveland Clinic) (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Understanding_COPD/hic_Pulmonary_Rehabilitation_Is_it_for_You/hic_Diaphragmatic_Breathing)

As you continue to practice, your diaphragm grows to be stronger, and you can start practicing in a chair and eventually breathe diaphragmatically all the time like me. The breathing is a very important part of mental health, but you can go further with the mind.


Recently I joined a program for tennis over the winter that includes not just physical training, but also mental training. Jane Barrash has been speaking at these discovering self work shops about diaphragmatic breathing, dualism, and how anyone really can acheive their goals. She immediatiately gained my utmost respect, she knew very much about the mind and philosophy which I am also very interested in. I remember when I attended my first discovering self workshop, before I even heard one word come out of Jane’s mouth I could sense this powerful positive aura coming from her. She had no problem explaining these topics to the class, and you could tell how important this was to not only her life, but how she really wanted to help everyone in the room.

She brought the North High school Basketball team from worst place to first place. “‘Get comfortable. Sit back and do your breathing,’ said Jane Barrash, who teaches the team-only course and who has become somewhat of guru and therapist for the team.” (Star Tribune, Barrash)(http://www.startribune.com/tevlin-new-age-thinking-helped-turn-this-north-high-team-around/249151451/)

In the workshop, Jane showed us videos of Kyle Maynard, a parapalegic state wrestler, as well as the amazing Wim Hoff who has the ability to control his immune system with his mind. “Kyle Maynard is a motivational speaker, author, entrepreneur and athlete. Despite being born with arms that end at the elbows and legs near the knees, Kyle’s wrestled for one of the best teams in the Southeast, set records in weightlifting, fought in mixed martial arts, and most recently became the first man to crawl on his own to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.” (Kyle Maynard)(http://kyle-maynard.com/about-kyle/)

I find it amazing that Kyle Maynard has been able to accomplish feats that are amazing even for someone without his disability, as well as being able to defeat these other amazing people. This is a great example of the power of the mind over the Body. These were just examples of the amazing feats that can be acheived with the mind, what was more interesting was the science behind it and the philosophy of Dualism that Jane had been researching for years.

Jane is the Executive director of The continuum center, “Continuum Center is an educational corporation organized to explore the nature of consciousness, human capacity, and the interconnectedness of life, for personal, professional and planetary transformation.” (Continuum Center, Barrash)(http://www.continuumcenter.net) The continuum center made the curriculum for the Discovery of self workshops, which are designed to help improve the social, academic, personal and professional life of anyone.

Jane was able to motivate and teach everyone in the room about how much can be achieved with just the mind. She showed us many examples of people that accomplished unfathomable feats, as well as explaining the science behind the mind and connecting it with the philosophy of dualism, and some quantum mechanics. She talked about how connected everything is, all being made up particles of different combinations. Barrash drew a chart to explain Dualism.

“Dualism is the concept that our mind is more than just our brain. This concept entails that our mind has a non-material, spiritual dimension that includes consciousness and possibly an eternal attribute. One way to understand this concept is to consider our self as a container including our physical body and physical brain along with a separate non-physical mind, spirit, or soul. The mind, spirit, or soul is considered the conscious part that manifests itself through the brain in a similar way that picture waves and sound waves manifest themselves through a television set. The picture and sound waves are also non-material just like the mind, spirit, or soul.” (http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/dualism.htm)(AllAboutPhilosophy.org, “AllAboutPhilosophy.org”)

The chart was a Venn diagram which had the measurable world on one side, and the immeasurable world of the mind on the other side. The measurable world included things like grades, taxes, time, and money. On the other side, there were things like belief, emotions, ideas, and overall consciousness. She then went on to explain how this connects to the left and right regions of the brain.

Many people in the world are focused on the things within the material world, and how to physically change them. This causes fear of failure, and stress. What could help many of these people out is taking some time to work on the mental aspects of life. Rather than worrying about passing a class, and all the things that you need to do in order to succeed, you should try to just understand what you are learning, as well as your creativity and passion. Staying positive with diaphragmatic breaths with out worrying about the physical outcomes clears the stress away, because there is nothing to worry about. The left side of the brain relies more on what is logical and measurable, the right side of the brain is immeasurable, and full of creativity and passion. Jane said that you need to find the right balance of the two sides of the brain, rather than using one side much more than the other. The case is that many people are more left brained than right brained, and need to focus more on their right brain.

After leaving my first class with Jane, I was very excited and intrigued. Everything that she had been talking about applied perfectly to my life this year. This year has been a year of self discovery, and achievement for me, I have also been practicing diaphragmatic breathing before going to the workshop. Jane talked about the interconnectedness of life during the workshops, and one of the topics was synchronicities in life. These are unpredictable happenings that are connected. I found it amazing that I found this role model during this exact year of my life when these topics were so relevant. Jane has helped me go further than I thought possible with my self discovery. I try to apply my positive attitude to every activity, and draw positives out of the negatives at any time possible. The breathing has helped me focus on things within my mind rather than limiting anxiety causing factors in the material world such as time, money, test outcomes, and other measurable things. I find my self to be much more centered and happy this year. I am glad to be able to put full effort into all of my classes, because I can pull positive knowledge out of them. I love playing music whether it is early or late, and sports help me stay healthy and happy. Rather than thinking about the limited time I have to do all of my activities, or the outcome of a situation, now I just try to stay in the moment and enjoy what I am doing while giving full effort.

Utilizing the most energy efficient way to bring oxygen in to your body, while also practicing positive imagery can make a huge difference in your life. I have practiced breathing and right brained thinking during cross country, tennis, guitar playing, and school and have seen outstanding outcomes. Making your own reality, rather than listening to others reality will let you acheive your goals. Do not think about the measurable things that people tell you that you are bound to, focus more on the energy you can pull from your right brain and prove them wrong. I believe that anyone can learn to be positive, and can become the person that they want to be by centering themselves through Diaphragmatic Breathing and positive imagery. This is the first step that you need to take in order to take the quantum leap towards your goals.


Works cited: “Dualism.” AllAboutPhilosophy.org. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.

Cleveland Clinic. “Diaphragmatic Breathing.” Cleveland Clinic. Web. 15 Dec. 2015. <https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/hic_Understanding_COPD/hic_Pulmonary_Rehabilitation_Is_it_for_You/hic_Diaphragmatic_Breathing>.

“Continuum Center | Organized To Explore.” Continuum Center. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.

“Kyle Maynard’s Bio.” Kyle Maynard RSS. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.

Provided by the Employee Wellness Program at Northern Michigan University. “Importance of the Breath.” Https://www.nmu.edu. Provided by the Employee Wellness Program at Northern Michigan University. Web. 29 Jan. 2016. <https://www.nmu.edu/wellness/sites/DrupalWellness/files/UserFiles/9.19_final.pdf>.

“Stress Management.” Relaxation Techniques: Try These Steps to Reduce Stress. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.

“Tevlin: New Age Thinking Helped Turn This North High Team around.” Star Tribune. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. Quote from Jane Barrash