This article is a response to Rebel Wisdom Interviewing Daniel Schmatenberger and the War on Sensemaking.
Questions?… How do we make sense of our world if we are in a state of fear, or confused at the different perspectives? What information and who’s opinion are we taking in? How does this perspective change your breathing pattern? How do we have full spectrum conversations on hyper complex issue?
Solutions?… Let’s explore a micro, macro, meta practical tool. The Breath.
Suspend dis-belief or dogma.. get really curious to how can you use the breath?
Why the breath…? The breath can help create a free flow of information within the body… the free flow of information is a key stone to the health of any system organic, mechanic or non physical. For our bodies the breath brings in the other half of our fuel source, oxygen. The level of C02 and our tolerance to it directly effects our heart rate variability and helps the delivery of this oxygen to the mitochondria via the Creb cycle to create ATP, energy for the nervous systems action potential to be turn into physical movement… In short, breathing is very important for our health and level vitality. Alongside direct experiential effects, there is mammoth amount of well researched objective science available on the effects of the breath on subjective internal experience.
Conversations are had with more than just words. How do we have high quality conversations that hear respectfully and respond to others whilst offering reflections of our own perspectives? Creating a fertile environment for new and novel ideas and solutions.
We breath.. an internal app we all have available.
Why?.. when we calm the heart, nervous system and limbic it can create safe attunement, enabling us to hear what the other(s) express and open to the ability to engage rational prefontal cortex thinking, embodied in full line of the thinking and communicating. A state of intuition. (There is a lot more to the world than what we see with the two eyes.)
How does this work?
Inhale the heart speeds up, exhale the heart slows down. The heart is attached to the diaphragm via a fascial web called the pericardium. This process is called. Sinus-arrhythmia. Physiology effects Psychology. What if we viewed out into the world through the heart, not just the eyes, ears and stories of the mind?
I like to explore the conceptual and experiential ens of the same Body Breath and Nervous System we use to perceive our Physical, Mental, Emotional and Social environment, both internally and externally. One of the many lenses and systems perception in the ecology of the Mind and Body. The Breath connects and fuels this living technology and words are just one method and symbol set of communication.
Let’s explore a metaphor… It is much more complicated than a computer. Yet if you imagined your body to be a living computer, the breath can create a more stable state within to let you see where the mouse is hovering… your attention. What tabs are up on the browser… the things you are currently focusing on. What programmes are running in the back ground… your beliefs and narratives. Where they downloaded adaptively or intentionally? What operating system are you running? The breath can bring a state of flow and calm to the hardware body for the software mind to operate with more efficiency. Imagine the nervous system singling at speed, freely and at a higher amplitude. You could even expand out into having a clearer wifi signal being able to connect well with other computers and systems.
(Noting this is a working a theory and no doubtedly has some holes in it. I draw this Physical Mental Emotional and Social map as a quadrant, with two rings, internal and external. The breath a pulsing dot in the middle. And a persons state of self or current sensory flows (efferent nerves or afferent nerves and the meaning give by the Anterior Cingulate Cortex) of perceptions as dots in the quadrants… it reminds me of an eye. For those familiar with Inegral Theorey four Quadrants I, It, We, Its. I like to over lay the PMES map as a way to gauge the individuals sense of that quadrant. )
Okay, lets refresh… the computer metaphor sounds great…
How can we start to use the breath as a technology?
Micro – Intra-personally the breath can be used to a tool to observe, sense and feel our internal reactions to different ideas, narratives. Wether these past memories or future fantasies the breath can place an individuals awareness in to the present, and create an internal tool to from unconscious reaction a into a conscious response. Through self reflection we can become aware of our own perspectives, biases, adaptive layers we can communicate our expressions, needs and ideas more authentically and effectively. We can also learn to listen and hear others being aware of our lens of listening. Both being able to express and listen freely can vastly improve the quality of interactions in life.
Breathing a breath of 4/6 seconds can create a calm state of coherence in the nervous system. Supporting the signals to fire through the body with more clarity. With a little practice and commitment this can become second nature. Over time it is possible to develop the ability sense and intentionally create different brainwave states alpha and theta for creativity. Just like driving a car, or playing an instrument. Theres a learning curve, then you can take off. Here are some starting points..
Reflexive – Use the breath as tool of awareness in the present.
Reflective – Use the breath to review previous interactions, patterns of behaviours narratives
Within both reflexive and reflective there is an option for two stances.
Passive – Observe the breath. What is the natural reaction?
Active – Engage the breath. What is the needed for the optimal response?
Macro – Inter-personally in groups the breath can be tool to create healthy attunement and engagement. Imagine and environment where individuals feel seen, heard and supported of their view expression in relation to an idea within the larger group. Then combine this with setting a frame to focus on the topic(s) of discussion and personal dis-identification with the ideas being discussed this can release participants from a state of nervousness or fear of being judged, wrong, or polarised, or needing to be right. Breathing to limbically attune a safe environment there fore freeing mental processing power towards an idea, instead of the uncertainty giving possible signals to the nervous system to respond to a threat. Furthermore when a group is collectively able to enter alpha and theta brainwave state they can support each other through mirror neutrons and limbic system attunement to stay stably in these states of creativity. What could this mean for heightened group imagination?
Meta – Communicate and review within communities and implement the learning from group breathes, thinks and discussions on issues and concepts. I imagine this to enhance the collective ability to grasp and come into a more symbiotic regenerative relation with the hyper complex systems which we are embedded. Sociologically, political, ecologically, financially. If we can have clearer ways of communicating and expressing our unique experiences and individual perspectives within the context of larger systems. I believe we can collectively rise to the challenge of the current meta-crises (meta-opportunity) the global systems are in.
Okay that sounds great.. Let’s recap how we can use the breath as an immediately accessible technology.
There are different ways to use the breath as a technology to upregulate or downregulate and individuals nervous system, with correlating brainwave states. I am curious to how the breath can be used intentionally to attune a group together, then either down or up-regulate around a collective issue, discussion or seed of imagination.
I have seen the effective use of a single group breath used appropriately in discussions, just like punctuation. To acknowledge what has just been said and heard, this has a huge impact on the level of attunement in the group. Facilitating a felt sense of being heard, helping support active listening and clearing the air for the next speaker.
Two techniques I have witnessed working well for creating group fields are an Coherent breathing using and equal 6 second inhale and 6 second exhale. Then notably, Conscious Connected Breathing using an active inhale singling full engagement of the nervous system with the breathers focus of attention, releasing into a passive exhale allowing the heart to slow down with out any force and lightening any previous armouring or current reaction to the motif of mental, emotional or physical perception the breather is experiencing.
Acknowledging we are in the Anthropocene… our collective actions over the next five to ten years and further will set the trajectory for generations to come. Yes there is a lot going wrong… the new comes at the cost of the old? There is also a vast opportunity for things to go right. Without denying or bypassing the grief, fear, uncertainty. I would like to invite a breathing in an acknowledgment all sides of the spectrum of possibilities… Knowing I would rather be focusing on solutions.
How do we make the most of the relative freedom of communication, access to information that we share?
What if?... Before we engaged in debate on important conversations with our mind, language, narrative lenses and beliefs… we breathed together. Coherently in a group for 2 to 10 minutes, tuning in our nervous systems & ecosystems of the bodies. Using the science of interpersonal neurobiology and socio-physiology to create a conducive forum for emergent conversation treating ideas separate from our individual identity, free to express and discover the new through coherent collective collaboration.
I would imagine a draft session looking like this:
Framing. All who attend are aware of external frameworks of communication, open to explore internal lenses and agreed to the practicalities of time in the space used.
Present an idea or issue.
Breath coherently on the focus. 5/10/20 minutes
Use group frameworks to discuss and debate the issue presented. Open ended or to come to a decision
Having an external device or cue to help support coherent breathing throughout by something signalled in the middle of group.
Invite. Group breath punctuation. Active inhales, passive exhale. Between speakers, points, or threads of discussion.
Review session, summarise, acknowledge forward actions
Take a few breaths to acknowledge all participants with out words and close.
To note my inner critics and speak too any outer skeptics:
Hippy… I care for the future and wholeheartedly believe we can respond to the current meta-crises to create an amazing one.
Woo?… Read the stacks objective science or engage in direct subjective experience of inner technologies
Unsure?… Take some breaths and feel the effects.
Breathe well. Imagine free.