Breathe “outside of the box”

By Kurt Larsson

Everyone knows how to breathe, right?
Otherwise you would be dead, suffocated.
Yet, how often do you inspire yourself and others?

Take any form of public transportation, sit in any classroom or look at anyone watching TV. How many of your fellow humans seem like they are loving life, thriving? How many look more like they are just surviving?

Then observe how much air they are inhaling. Compare the movement in their chests to that of a sprinter after a 100 meter dash or an excited four year old. You will probably notice a distinct difference in the amount of air being used.
Now the big question, who inspires you more?

”Inspire” comes from the Latin word inspirére and literally means to breathe in spirit. As long as we are talking Latin ”expire” means to let go of spirit (get it out of your system), in short, die. ”Survive” means to just make it over the border of the living. Now, given those three choices, which one would you like to have more of in your life?

Expiration, survival or inspiration?

If you are still reading this you have probably focused on the third choice.

In that case, what can be done to bring more inspiration into your life?

The key may be as simple as taking another look at your fellow humans on that buss and see what is missing to inspire them. Our lungs extend all the way up to under your collar bones and all the way down to the bottom of your rib cage. Your lungs extend over to both armpits and they can expand your rib cage vertically, laterally, front and back as well as side to side. If you examine their breathing closely you will notice that they are probably using at the most, the middle third of their lungs. Chances are that you will hardly notice any physical movement at all. This amount of breathing insures that they will make it to the next inhale, not much else. Are you inspired? Now observe your own breathing. How inspiring is it?

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil
This amount of breathing combined with your ”street face” will keep most of us believing we are smaller targets and therfore safe from most disturbances in public places. Now, when you also plug in your earphones and close your eyes you have effectively shut down most of your senses. Most people have learned to leave you alone when you have checked out so thoroughly. This may be a good defensive strategy to survive your ”daily grind”, but how inspiring is life at this level?

A popular saying is to ”Think outside the Box” meaning to really get a great idea you have to leave your comfort zone and take in new input. Otherwise, you are ultimately left with the same thoughts you had yesterday and the day before.

How exciting were they? How inspired were you then?
Could this ”box” phenomenon be true for breathing also?
What if most people are, often unconsciously, breathing within their survival box?
What if their box means barely using the middle third of their lungs to insure that they do not expire before the next inhale?

If you are just looking to survive the train ride home this behavior actually does make sense. At this level of breathing your sensory system is effectively shut down and you are left with just intellect. Breathing within your box, to survive to the next breath insures you won’t feel a whole lot. You can function and do stuff without having to deal with how it really makes you feel inside. And if that doesn’t do it there are now plenty of meds available further dampen your ability to feel.

Human Doing/Human Being? Choose
Consciously or unconsciously, breathing within your survival box is the most effective way to downgrade your status from ”human being” to ”human doing”.
It permits you to react automatically with your brain instead of reflecting and responding with your heart as you have actually evolved to do. Congratulations! You have reverted back to a machine, fully capable of incredible intellectual calculations and feats of strength but devoid of most of the sense and feeling you are capable of experiencing.

It gets worse, because those nasty feelings keep creeping back into your little box, causing it to shrink further year after year. Want proof?
Look at most older people; do they breathe more or less than most five year olds?
More importantly who is more expressive, inspiring and fun to be around?

If survival without feeling anything is your idea of living, then read no further.

Should you prefer to explore living a more inspiring life, then below are a few tips:

  • Take in more air, slowly, consciously and enjoyably
  • Exhale with power and empty your lungs completely,
    then let nature take care of the rest.
  • Notice what you are feeling and deal with it, this too shall pass.
  • What would it feel like to deliberately ”make every breath a joy”?
  • Practice speaking from the top of your breath and celebrate the feeling of more of your body’s trillions of cells resonating with your message.
  • Practice inspiring as many cells to resonate in your body as possible and notice if people around you begin to believe you more easily…
  • As you improve your ability to inspire yourself and others, notice if your ability to be present, here and now increases too.
  • What do you notice happening to your fears as you become more present?
  • You may also observe your ability for care and empathy increasing as well.

The more you practice these steps the more you may begin to realize how much more there is to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness when you choose to live an inspiring life. Congratulations, this is how we human beings are supposed to live.

If you are interested in finding out more about some of our Sensational Soft Skills” that will help you to inspire others in your role as a leader, please take a look at our Sensational Leadership Workshop Series. If you are interested in breathing more effectively and increasing your ability to live full-out please check out the Body Harmony Workshop being offered in Stockholm this coming June.

If you find these words inspiring feel free to link to them and spread the word.

About The Author


I am fascinated with what makes us humans ”tick”, especially when it comes to how we consciously communicate and express ourselves with our body language. My business background is in international sales and sales management, selling everything from automobile tires in Houston, Tx, to retail banking delivery systems in 20 countries. I have graduated from CoachU’s 3 year Coach Training program, been certified as an Extended DISC consultant and become a Certified International Body Harmony Teacher with over 20 years of ”hands-on” experience in bodywork. This rich and varied background combined with over 20 years of being an entrepreneur has blessed me with insights and experiences I never would have noticed in the corporate world. Mainstream business now seems to be waking up to the riches available from more conscious and responsible business practices. Expanding Understanding’s Sensational Soft Skills Toolbox , the books I have written and training I have developed now provide savvy decision makers and their colleagues measurable results and a more restful night's sleep. These tools provide an edge in consciously understanding, deliberately using and profiting from the most powerful communication tool available, our bodies. I look forward to meeting you on this path to mastery in non verbal communication.

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