“What do you do?” people ask.
“Put simply, I teach people to breathe better and stress less,” comes my reply.
“Oh!” go the sceptics confidently, “Surely we all know how to breathe!”
My challenge when I deliver a breathing workshop is that the room is mostly full of sceptics. This is sometimes verbally shared with me as attendees enter the space.
The fastest way to convert a breathing sceptic is for the person to feel a difference – my words mean nothing compared to the learning they get from their body with my guidance.
To on-board my sceptics, I start by building awareness of how they currently breathe. Give someone a bit of skin in the game and you start to weaken their scepticism. Plus, it’s fun.
After about 10 minutes of working in pairs, everyone has learnt something about the way they breathe. Are they a nose or mouth breather? Do they breathe more with their chest or their belly? How many breath cycles do they take in one minute? A lot more is revealed but you’ll need to come to a workshop to find out exactly what!
Now that I have my sceptics’ attention I can continue with my workshop. I still need them though, as their constant questions allow me to explain away their doubts – the doubts in the room.
The more I build their understanding of how bad breathing patterns are contributing to their stress and show them how good breathing patterns can be used to manage stress, the more their doubts dissolve.
I always close with a Q&A before I put my timer on for five minutes to guide the group in a final breathing technique. I know most of them have never done this exercise before and I crack open an eyelid to see how they are doing. Everyone is taking part, even the guy who told me proudly he was a sceptic as he entered the room.
A calmness pervades the air. I kill my timer before it rings. I don’t want to ruin the focus and freedom these people have found through practicing something as simple as breathing.
Bring on the next batch of sceptics – you’re welcome in my workshops!
P.S. Sceptics can become your best supporters once they’ve crossed to the other side!
“At first I was sceptical, as I thought I knew how to breathe. During and after the course I was amazed at what I had learnt and now use the techniques on a daily basis.”