Deep Breathing 200

Conscious control of the breathing process making it slow, deep, diaphragmatic, abdominal and rhythmic is a potent technique of stress management for physical, mental and spiritual health.

Activity of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is said to control the rate of breathing. Stress disturbs the balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the ANS stimulating the former and slowing the latter. This results in shallow and fast breathing.

Spiritual practices long understood that conscious, slow, deep, diaphragmatic breathing reduces stress. Taking conscious control of the breathing process, we learn to establish a balance between the activities of the two divisions of the ANS. Recent studies establish that this type of deep breathing is beneficial in the non-pharmaceutical management and prevention of hypertension, and of other physical and mental health determinants normally under the control of the ANS.

Noting that a large number of adults in North America suffer from hypertension and other ANS related physical and mental health irregularities, SHEN felt it incumbent to use these studies for common good through public education.

SHEN proposes to health professionals in stress management through physiology based deep diaphragmatic breathing. Trained students will then be expected to reach out to the community by offering similar training to community groups at physical and mental health centers, addiction management and rehab centers, churches, health clubs, workplaces, recreation centers, senior residences, training and educational organizations, etc.

We have devised a training program for for health professionals consisting of eight two hour sessions, normally one per week over eight (or fewer) weeks with each session comprising of the following components:

  1. Presentation of related underlying physiological concepts;
  2. Practical engagement in the practice of deep breathing; and
  3. Mindful listening, group sharing and Q. & A. process.

Additionally, the students will:

  1. Learn the use of heart rate variability biofeedback to support personal experience and cognitive understanding of the deep breathing process;
  2. Learn simple practical tips to include deep diaphragmatic breathing as a part of regular lifestyle; and
  3. Engage in independent study and research in the effectiveness of stress management through deep diaphragmatic breathing in managing various physical and mental health issues related with the activity of the ANS. The students may also be requested to investigate the production and circulation of nitric oxide as a result of the deep breathing technique.

The goal of the program is to experientially and cognitively gain enough conviction in the process to comfortably and effectively offer eight two hour workshops to community groups. The students will be instructed to insist that no one stops or changes the dosage of any medication without consulting one’s physician.

Interested students will benefit in various ways through their personal learning and through reaching out to benefit the community groups. They must be able to travel locally to receive and deliver the necessary training and for making the arrangements related to this program.

Learning Outcomes for the Student

Cognitive Learning

  1. Physiological effects of stress;
  2. Stress and health, physical and mental;
  3. Physiological concepts underlying stress reduction through deep breathing;
  4. Understanding of the process of deep breathing;
  5. Principles underlying heart rate variability feedback;
  6. Nitric oxide, its relationship with the deep breathing process and any role in health maintenance; and
  7. Principles underlying body-mind connection through electro-chemical information systems (hormonal and nervous systems) operating in the human body;

Experiential Learning

  1. Experiencing the opposing stimulating and calming tendencies built in the human body and the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of balancing them;
  2. Experiencing the physical and mental calm resulting from the balancing of the ANS activity;
  3. Experiencing the growth of thoughtfulness at the expense of reactive behaviour as a result of practicing the stress management technique;
  4. Mindful and non-judgemental listening in a group process; and
  5. Skill in using the heart rate variability biofeedback.