You are on page 1of 6




. . . Now . . . & . . . Now . . . & . . . . . . Again . . . with Soft Belly . . .
by Malcolm F. Dayton, LPC, CHt
(Coaching Your Self Healing)

Copyright © 2009 by MFDayton,LPC,CHt All rights reserved worldwide.

THIS PUBLICATION IS PROTECTED UNDER THE US COPYRIGHT ACT OF 1976 AND ALL OTHER APPLICABLE INTERNATIONAL, FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL LAWS, and all rights are reserved, including resale rights: you are not allowed to give or sell this Guide to anyone else without written permission from the author. If you received this publication from anyone other than CoachingYourSelfHealing or an approved representative, you've received a pirated copy. Please contact us via e-mail at and notify us of the situation. Please note that much of this publication is based on clinical and personal experiences and anecdotal evidence. Although the author has made every reasonable attempt to achieve complete accuracy of the content in this Guide, he assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions. Also, you should use this information as you see fit, and at your own risk. Your particular situation may not be exactly suited to the examples illustrated here; in fact, it's likely that they won't be the same, and you should adjust your use of the information and recommendations accordingly. Any trademarks, service marks, product names or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. Finally, nothing in this Guide is intended to replace common sense, legal, medical or other professional advice, and is meant to inform and entertain the reader. So have fun and learn with this powerful CoachingYourSelfHealing information.

About the Author
Malcolm Dayton is a Licensed Counselor with more than two decades specializing in providing coaching & clinical counseling services to individuals (and families) facing Chronic Illness. In addition, Malcolm is certified in MindBody Medicine and Hypnotherapy. Malcolm's Coaching Your Self Healing program is unique as it is based not only on his clinical work with chronically ill individuals, but also on his own lifelong journey with chronic illness (multiple sclerosis, asthma, immune deficiency). In short, Malcolm walks his coaching! Malcolm's mission is simple--to Coach You WELL! You may contact Malcolm directly: To sign-up for a FREE (:45) Initial Coaching Session: Find additional Self Empowering articles:
Copyright © 2009 by MalcolmDayton,LPC,Cht. Http:// All rights reserved worldwide.

Breathing! We all do it about 15 times a minute, 900 times every hour, 21,600 times every day, and 7.9 million times each year! So you would think this breathing thing is something we'd be pretty skilled at by adulthood. Indeed, you may even consider yourself to be a breathing pro: Heck, you do it so well, you can even do it in your sleep  Yet, most of us, most of the time fail to breathe in a way that optimizes our moment-tomoment experience and performance. More problematic is that how we have become conditioned to breathe actually serves to escalate and intensify anxiety when under stress! So, even though you've done it millions of times in your life, it's time to relearn how to breathe naturally! You will need to periodically attend to your breathing – at least for a couple of days. Then, once retrained to breathe optimally, you will open your life to a whole array of renewed adventures: • • • • • You will discover a new source of energy that can stop fatigue dead in its tracks. You will notice you think clearer; and You are even more creative. You will learn how your breathing can (and does) escalate fear and anxiety, or Calm you into peace . . . while all around you is spinning out of control.

Such is the power of relearning to breathe optimally. In my coaching and counseling, this is absolutely the FIRST skill I teach new clients – Because the most powerful way to be in the world is in alignment with how the body naturally functions. I have experienced lifelong smokers discontinue smoking altogether with just the determined application of this one powerful skill! Optimal Breathing has been like manna from heaven in controlling chronic pain – my own as well as my clients. And no, you do not need to become a mystic yogi to achieve such results; nor do you need to do “deep breathing”. In fact, because we have so modified our breathing, “deep breathing” becomes ineffective-breathing-with-more-vigor, and it tends to make you lightheaded and faint (which is why “deep breathing” can feel so aversive). Stay away from “deep breathing”: It will only serve to escalate anxiety! Instead, you simply need to relearn what you once knew naturally as an infant; but were trained out of by well-intentioned parents, teachers and coaches who remolded your breathing over your childhood years. In fact, they taught us to hold the body in the exact opposite positions of its natural mechanics: They taught us to stand up straight, stomach in, & shoulders back – and we've breathed constricted ever since! Have you ever watched a sleeping infant? Most striking is that during sleep, the only detectable movement occurring is . . . the slow . . . rise . . . and . . . fall . . . of soft belly. Even when awake, a healthy infant will breathe from soft abdomen, not the chest. Yet, if I ask you now to take in a noticeable breath and discern what moves, most likely your shoulders and sternum will rise up and away from your abdomen – which is the breathing associated with hyperventilating. It may even be the case that your belly does not expand at all; such being the power of childhood conditioning!

Now, if I ask you again to take in a noticeable breath from your abdomen, you may find yourself bumbling about as you did when trying to simultaneously rub your belly and pat the top of your head; so trained is our diaphragm to no longer fully engage naturally. There is good news, however, and that is, we still do tend to breath naturally when asleep. More good news is we are still pliable and easily retrained: In fact, your body will welcome the attention! So let's get on with it. First, it is important to have a basic understanding of the breathing process in order to reset our conditioning. There are 3 important fundamentals to breathing optimally: 1. Anxiety creates more anxiety: If you are nervously waiting to deliver a presentation, most likely your abdominal muscles tighten and you begin to breath more rapidly. With tense abdominal muscles, however, the rapid breathing becomes localized in the “upper chest”, and we use the tiny muscles between the ribs (intercostals) to pull our chest up and out; but our lungs move little, resulting in less oxygen per breath & an increase of carbon dioxide in our blood. The body's normal response (to this, “up-set”, hyperventilating state) is a flood of adrenaline (i.e., the fight/flight/freeze response) and suddenly we are trapped in a vicious cycle of increased heart rate, more rapid upper chest breathing, less oxygen, more adrenaline, and so on, until it's time for “paper bag” breathing  2. Your lungs don't breathe – your diaphragm breathes you: In the sketch, notice colored lines “3” and “4” which represent the up/down breathing motion of the diaphragm [that large dome-shaped muscle beneath our lungs/heart (“1”) that sits as a “roof” over our abdominal organs (“2”)]. Since, our lungs are not muscle, as the diaphragm contracts downward toward the abdomen, the lungs are passively expanded downward, and air rushes into the lungs due to the vacuum formed in the chest. As the diaphragm relaxes upward, air is exhaled. Notice, on healthy inspiration, as the diaphragm contracts downward (“3” “4”), the abdomen and sternum are pushed forward (“8” “6”), and the intercostals are not engaged. Hence, you can see the problem that arises as we tighten our abdominal muscles when anxious: The diaphragm cannot fully and naturally contract, oxygenation is diminished, and heightened anxiety looms. 3. To relax your abdominal muscles, focus on your lower back: Huh? Think about it: Our lower back muscles are meant to hold us upright, so we must engage them more than our abdominals. To do so, first, adjust feet shoulder-width apart, and bend your knees slightly. Then imagine “flattening” the curve in your lower back (by rotating the tilt in your pelvis up and back toward the spine): Now, relax into “soft belly”.
With knees slightly bent, flatten curve in lower back by rotating pelvis as shown. Then, be “soft belly”!

With feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent slightly & flat back (i.e., front of pelvis rotated up & toward back), you are being held erect by your back muscles; so, you can easily relax your abdominal muscles and experience “soft belly”. This Optimal Breathing “posture” may feel awkward at first (particularly so for women who have been indoctrinated with holding tummy in), but consider it as your opportunity to “settle-down” (as opposed to being “up-set”): You can think of the posture as a variation on the opening stance of virtually every martial art from around the world. Which is why this posture is so empowering; because you settle down into a firm and grounded posture, in line with your center of power (about 2 finger-widths behind the naval, and 3 finger-widths below the naval): This is your physical center of gravity (also known as the hara or lower dan tien); so you first settle down into a strong and stable foundation. It is from this position that you will relearn to breathe naturally, optimally now.

• • For purposes of learning, you may begin by lying comfortably on your back. Bend knees (to help naturally flatten your lower spine against the support on which you are resting. It may help to place a pillow beneath both knees). • Place a sturdy (but not heavy) book on your lower abdomen.

1. Begin by breathing out to full exhalation (book with abdomen relaxes toward spine) 2. PAUSE (naturally allowing your diaphragm to breathe you)
3. Being Inhaled (noticing the book gently rising upward with your abdomen)

4. (Gentle PAUSE at full inhalation)
5. Relax into exhaling (noticing the book lowering toward your spine)

6. (Gentle PAUSE at full expiration)
7. Repeat steps 2 thru 5: (From full expiration) . . . PAUSE . . . being inhaled . . . (book rises upward) . . . PAUSE . . . relax into exhale and book lowers down . . . PAUSE . . . & again . . . Notice, it is the “PAUSES” that provide the relaxation effect; as pausing on inhalation allows full oxygen transport into the blood, & the pause after exhalation allows for a slight sense of oxygen deprivation, so that inhaling is triggered naturally and spontaneously without conscious intervention. Note, these are just slight pauses (no gasping or forcing); rather, just gently pausing for a second or two.

Once, you are comfortable performing Optimal Breathing in the recumbent position, begin performing repetitions from a seated position (knees bent, soft belly). When comfortable with sitting breath, begin Optimal Breathing while standing; with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, flat back & soft belly (exhale, pause, inhale, pause). It's “Feet, Knees, Back, Belly” that “exhale, Pause, inhale, Pause” – Shoulders remain still. Perform this routine multiple times each day for just a few cycles of breathing each time. You can become very skilled at Optimal Breathing by stopping into routine daily moments and remembering to apply it; for example, apply Optimal Breathing: • • • • During commercials when watching TV While standing at the kitchen sink In the shower When stopped in traffic (Optimal Breathing can soothe an otherwise hectic commute) • Teach it to your spouse and children as a remarkably functional stress management routine, particularly when applied during conflicts • • Teach it to co-workers (for a more relaxed and creative work environment) And most certainly, optimally breath on the golf course and tennis court Always use it for some minutes before going up to give a presentation Once at the podium, settle into the Optimal Breathing posture (F-K-B-B) and allow for a couple optimal breaths (e-P-i-P) – You will be amazed at how smoothly, calmly you will present because you are truly present – and, yes, it is a remarkable gift to yourself!  Optimal Breathing will always bring you back to calm, stable peace. Make this your new way-of-being throughout your day and enjoy the transformation that occurs naturally – what were once “awful” experiences become awe-full . . . as you breath optimally now . . . & . . . now . . . & . . . again . . . with soft belly! Caringly, Breathe Well! Malcolm
Respiration Graphic Source: Cutter, Calvin First Book on Analytic Anatomy, Physiology and Hygiene, Human and Comparative (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1875) 88. Copyright: 2009, Florida Center for Instructional Technology.

• •


All rights reserved worldwide.