Survival and Peaceful Breathing
Natural disasters are scary. It is difficult to keep them out of your mind whether they impact your life directly or not (or not yet). This week, I found myself thinking about the tremendous suffering caused by Florence, the storm in the US, and Mangkhut, the typhoon in the Philippines and Hong Kong. I wanted to write a blog about it but found myself at loss of what to say. I felt that talking about it honestly could be too drastic for this breathing improvement blog but softening it down would make it trivial. Balancing within this dilemma, I decided to present this topic as a historical account, an opportunity to learn about Dr. Buteyko’s work regarding natural disasters.
During the last part of his life, the main focus of Dr. Buteyko’s work was the issue of human survival. He spent many years learning about the cultures considered to be extinct, and analyzing the reasons for their disappearance. He was preoccupied with this topic because he had concluded that human civilization was dying. He predicted that in the future the number of natural disasters caused by human activities would increase resulting in widespread damage, injuries, epidemics, and deaths. He believed that our current society would perish not from an atomic bomb or a global war but from environmental problems, which he called “self-poisoning”. In the early 1990’s Dr. Buteyko made efforts to alert academics about his conclusions and possible ways to prevent catastrophes, but his work was too far-reaching and thus ignored.
What formed Dr. Buteyko’s idea that human civilization, the way we know it, was approaching its end? Perhaps it developed around his discovery that the average Positive Maximum Pause had been decreasing. According to his system of measurements, the Positive Maximum Pause indicates the level of CO2 in the lungs that also can be called “vital energy”. When Positive Maximum Pause or CO2 becomes “zero,” a person’s life expires. Buteyko believed that this natural law applied not only on an individual level but on the collective level as well.
My experience as a breathing coach shows that in the US, for instance, the average Positive Maximum Pause is declining. According to Dr. Buteyko’s teachings, it’s happening because breathing patterns are the result of lifestyle choices. As our modern lifestyle becomes increasingly unnatural (more comfort, drug, and entertainment based), our breathing patterns also become less natural making us weaker and decreasing our vitality.
It’s no surprise that Dr. Buteyko considered the breathing normalization work to be a solution to many problems and an essential tool for survival. Was he naive? Perhaps. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy to trace his logic.
His work proved that breathing reduction creates harmony on many levels. When this harmony exits inside the body, we call it “health,” and when it exists outside the body on the societal level, we call it “peace”. Dr. Buteyko noticed that making breathing more peaceful also makes thinking more peaceful, and as a result, a person normally becomes less aggressive, more compassionate, more inclined towards spirituality, as well as more attentive to the needs of others, including Mother Earth and all her inhabitants. Due to this profound effect generated by pacification of breathing, many cultures around the world employed various techniques of CO2 increase (meditation, for example) as essential elements of their spiritual traditions.
But what is the connection to our current situation marked by violent storms, wildfires, and floods? Can Dr. Buteyko’s work stop this? I don’t think so, but it still can benefit us. When it gets stormy outside, it becomes imperative to be calm inside, and breath control can contribute to making this calm a reality. When typhoons are raging, we should try our best to extinguish them inside our minds and bodies, and in achieving this goal, Dr. Buteyko’s method remains indispensable.
As many of you know, consuming less air increases oxygenation of the entire body, and consequently, all of the body’s systems work better, including the brain. On a mental level, this boosted efficiency enhances decision-making and increases chances of avoiding pitfalls. On top of it, reduced respiration based on gentle nasal breathing decreases pain, the likelihood of catching viruses, and also increases detoxification, improves metabolism, and strengthens the functions of immune, nervous and other systems. Buteyko’s medical trials conducted in Russia and Ukraine demonstrated that his method escalates chances for recovery and survival. I wish that disaster response and rescue teams would learn the techniques of Breathing Normalization!
If you have trust in Dr. Buteyko’s work, accept his prophecy that natural disasters will upsurge. It is better to learn how to breathe peacefully today rather than postponing it until after the storm.
P.S.: Watch the video on the top of this page and observe your breathing. Imagine that you are watching this storm from a window in your home. Make an effort to breathe more gently and peacefully. Stormy outside. Calm inside.