Breathe in Good Company

I was asked last week why I called my company, “Breathe Personal and Organisational Development” – and in particular the reason for using the word ‘Breathe’ in the title.

I think names are very important as they give a first impression, and so I gave it a lot of thought. My aim was to find a word or phrase that encompassed everything that we offered. I eventually recognised that the most appropriate common denominator was breathing.

The on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia describes breathing as follows: “Conscious control of breathing is common in many forms of meditation, specifically forms of yoga for example pranayama unlike anapana which is only awareness of breath. In swimming, cardio fitness, speech or vocal training, one learns to discipline one’s breathing, initially consciously but later sub-consciously, for purposes other than life support. Human speech is also dependent on conscious breath control. Also breathing control is used in Buteyko method”.

I’m not aware of some of the techniques and methods mentioned in the definition, but you will find more detail on them on the internet. I am, however, aware of some of the benefits of effective breathing. These can include it:

  • Being a key to successful personal stress management
  • Reducing the impact of asthma through the effective use of particular techniques
  • Helping a person sleep more easily
  • Reducing a person’s heart rate
  • Being a method of helping control blood pressure
  • Enhancing performance because it helps people focus and relax

I’m not qualified to advise on a number of these, but I do know about the last of the bullet points – and that’s the reason behind the company name.

When we are preparing to deliver a presentation, dealing with a difficult staffing situation, being interviewed for a new job, or any other situation that we feel is going to be potentially challenging or stressful we need to maintain effective breathing.  The rest of our body and our faculties are counting on our breathing. They are ‘looking up’ to it for leadership, inspiration and support.

When it suddenly deserts us, we realise it – and suffer the consequences – very quickly. The loss of its leadership leads us to doubt our abilities, the lack of its inspiration stops us from searching for more positive thoughts and ideas, and the loss of its support can make us believe that everything we ever considered might go wrong in the particular situation will go wrong. An apparently hopeless situation.  And all because we’re not breathing very well.

This can result in anxiety, concern, fear, tension and other negative emotions – and we need positive emotions to enable us to breathe effectively. Hence why when some people see others suffering before or part way through a stressful experience, they say “Take a deep breath”. They are trying to help the person take control again. Whilst the advice is well intentioned, it is best to have learned how to breathe effectively prior to this point.

In brief, we need to breathe in through our nose and out through our mouth. By concentrating on breathing out there is more chance of avoiding shallow breathing and achieving deep breathing – which is the good place we need to.

In some ancient systems breathing was viewed as the foundation stone of health.  I believe that breathing is the foundation stone of effective performance and achieving our goals. Hence the name.


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