Dr. Alan Watkins and on how controlling breathing creates heart coherence required for proper brain function

Published on July 20, 2016 under bipolar disorder

I watched these 2 TED talks by Dr. Alan Watkins.  The particular clip I’m sharing here is particularly interesting.  He illustrates that the way we consciously modulate our breathing creates a coherent heart beat, which then send the right “fuel” in terms of electricity up to the brain.  He says that when the heart is beating in a coherent manner, whether fast or slow, whether alert or relaxed, we are in positive emotional states.  He gives the example of being angry versus being passionate.  Both have the same average heart rate of 120 beats per minute, but passion is coherent whereas anger is irratic.  The problem isn’t the heart rate but the heart rate variability.  He is saying that if we can control our physiology, we can control our emotions, by practicing breathing rhythmically, smoothing, and focusing on breating into our heart.  Those were the top 3 most important aspects of breathing that he mentions.  He says there are 12 ways we can control our breathing.  The much touted “take a deep breath” is actually #9.

I feel this has deep implications for me and bipolar disorder as the difference between feeling a positive emotion and a negative emotion could be as simple as breathing rhythmically.  For more information on what that means, watch the clip.  It’s simpler than it sounds.  I’ve actually noticed that I can just put a bit of attention on my breathing without actually trying to breathing rhythmically and I feel more relaxed.  I imagine it will be even more powerful if I consciously practice.  I can see that perhaps one way that aerobic exercise makes us feel better is that it forces us to breathe rhythmically.  Maybe I can get my heart rate up, breathe the right way, and feel passionate instead of angry.

I also bought his app called “Universe of Emotions”.  It shows emotions as stars in the universe.  I was expoloring the 2000 emotions shown in the app and it was fun.  By being able to discern more acurrately how I am feeling, I can have more awareness and the potential to be in a positive state most of the time.


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