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The researchers behind this study had found that even more than genetics, than what food you were eating or how much you exercise, it was lung size and respiratory health that determine how long you were going to live.
Welcome. Welcome, everyone, to a special holiday bonus episode of Hidden in Plain Sight. Maybe you've heard today's guest on Rogen recently, or maybe you've never heard of him.
Today's guest is a veteran scientific journalist and author. He wrote the authoritative book on Freediving in Our Oceans that was called Deep. Maybe you've heard of that one. But recently he finished up his latest book called Breath. So what is breath? Why does it matter and why is this such an awesome interview? Well, the book matters because at the moment humanity is kind of on this deep evolutionary walk, right? We know things aren't going so well. Breath is the answer to that, or it might be a starting point to that, ultimately, it's a book that's a culmination of a decade plus of research.
It's four years of writing and creation. It's based on over 500 scientific studies and religious texts that have been carrying these secrets for millennia. It's also the story of lone wolf experimenters and practitioners who rediscovered these methods for healing and taught them, spread them. And really, it's so much more as a species. We're not getting stronger, faster and wiser, yet we have more access to medicine and technologies than ever before. So what is going on and how do we fight back?
The answer is a rabbit hole and it all starts with our breath. So prepare to jump down the rabbit hole with myself and today's guest, who is none other than Mr. James Néstor. Let's go.
This season of Hidden in Plain Sight is brought to you exclusively by our friends at Splunk. The Data to Everything platform Splunk helps organizations worldwide turn data into doing its time for data to be more than a record of what happened.
It's time to make things happen. Learn more at Splunk Dotcom or by clicking the link in our show notes. James, welcome to the show. Thanks a lot for having me. The first caution and word of warning to our listeners in order to get the most out of this interview, we recommend that you breathe through your nose. And that's a great Segway into today's episode. James, I'm so excited to have you here. I'm a big fan of Breath, your latest book, but also deep.
That was how I first found your work. So it's an honor to talk to you today.
Oh, well, thanks a lot. Really appreciate that.
The interesting thing about your books is they're all based on direct experience. You are a practitioner, you're a researcher. You're getting out into the field. And I think what's fascinating that I'd like our listeners to get a sense of is how long does it take you to create these books? And what's that process from start to finish like?
Well, it takes far, far longer than anyone hopes or thinks with breath. This was really a decade long excursion into this field. And that doesn't mean it was full time every single day. I was just chipping away at this, but it had been an idea I've thought about for a long time. And I kept seeing interesting stories attached to breath, whether they be scientific articles or anecdotes, since I kept filing them away in this big file cabinet until that file cabinet became completely overstuffed.
And I figured that there was something larger than just a magazine story here. And so that was over several years of just looking, reading, being curious, talking to people. And the actual process of writing this book, which was a complete pain in the butt, was about four years nonstop every day.
Well, and this process and the thread of information that you're following is although with words like not and things of that nature, it can feel like it's brand new. But in a sense, it's very, very old. If we go back to four hundred B.C., there are some books I hope you can tell us a little bit about them that focus entirely on breathing Chinese religious texts. So kind of take us back to at what point in human history does this emphasis on breath and breathing really appear?
And where do you see it?
First, it's hard to really pinpoint an exact time because a lot of this stuff had been passed down through oral traditions, probably for thousands and thousands of years. So we know the art of breathing, this technology of breathing, the medicine of breathing dates back to about four thousand B.C. to the Indus population civilization up in the northern areas of India border and Pakistan and Afghanistan. So where there's figurines of these people in these very obvious, very specific poses, breathing and expanding their stomachs, breathing out.
But then you start to get into the written history of this and probably three thousand years old when the very first Rigveda scripts and yoga, yoga was a technology of breathing. There was no movement. There was there was no downward dogs or any of that when it first started. But what was interesting to me wasn't that this was just coming from ancient Hindu text. It was that this was coming from ancient cultures all over the world. They were all celebrating, breathing as this medicine, and they had been writing about it for thousands of years.
The Chinese text you're talking about, about fifteen hundred years ago, they started writing books about how breathing can benefit us, how it can benefit our health, and how, if we do it wrong, how it will completely destroy our health. So this stuff is not new, but the science and the measurements are rather new. And that's where I spent most of my time.
Sure. And you mentioned in the book that about 90 percent of us are breathing incorrectly and we're in fact aggravating our biology and almost bringing on all these diseases of comfort, these diseases of civilization. And if we were to start to heal ourselves, where is the first place that we should look? Is it you mentioned in the book taping your mouth at night and just breathing through your nose? What is some low hanging fruit here to get back on the right path?
Well, that estimates and that is not my estimate. That's an estimate by leaders in the field, several of whom I spent months and months researching with. Some people said, oh, that's impossible. That's way too high. But these researchers said that's way too low. It's probably a lot more than one percent.
So if you don't believe me, you can just look around, look at how many people have asthma, how many people with sleep apnea, how many people snore, how many people have COPD, how many people wheeze when they're exercising, how many people have crooked teeth?
I mean, this goes on and on and on and on. And when I first started digging into this, I could not believe it, that someone else hadn't been writing about this, that my doctor had been telling me about this. But it's all there. And and no one's denying the data. They're not denying the science. It's just it's been hidden in these dark corner. For so long, these very obscure academic journals or these very obscure ancient scripts.
That's what I spent my time sort of piecing together. And, you know, there's no one specific way of breathing. There's no blanket prescription to make everyone healthy. That's complete garbage, just like there's no blanket prescription for for what foods you should be eating, how much every single person should be exercising. But there is a foundation that you can build on, and that's what I try to provide at the center of the book. You always want to be breathing through your nose all the time.
I don't care if you know is stuff. You have to find a way of clearing it. You want to be breathing slowly, you want to be breathing deeply. And it's so ironic that we have to reteach or cells how to breathe this completely basic biological function. But we are so detached from our nature right now that that's exactly what we have to do. We have to re acclimate ourselves with this process to allow our bodies to work normally, because right now they're breaking down all over the place.
Sure. And you mentioned there, you know, humans are the only species with krook teeth. And if we think about the reality of kind of where we're at with disease and understanding and medicine, it's almost like for several generations now we've been committed on this path of the evolution. We've forgotten a lot of very important traditions, like yoga, like breath. Do you feel like we're kind of down this evolutionary rabbit hole now? And what does that look like from your vantage point of doing all this research and work on it?
A lot of people think that evolution works in the straight line of progress. It's always progressive survival of the fittest. Right. We're getting stronger and braver and faster is complete and utter garbage. That's never how natural selection work. That's never how evolution, where evolution means change over time. And so we've been changing. Humans have been changing. And for the most part in the last few centuries, we've been changing for the worse. You look at how much more brittle our bones are, how our faces have changed, how we have crooked teeth.
We have the onset of all these different diseases. You look at obesity on and on and on. This whole bummer parade of different chronic maladies has afflicted so many of us. But I didn't mean to bring all of this up just to dwell on the negative. What I wanted to do is identify these problems and clarify them so that we can then find ways of fixing them, because with knowledge, with information, we then have the power to invest in our own health, regardless of what medical institutions are telling us, regardless of what the food pyramid is telling us to eat.
Right. That's what's really inspiring to me about what's happening in this day and age, is there are different places to get information. That's also what's dangerous because there's a bunch of complete garbage and B.S. out there. But my job as a science journalist is to find subjects and to find studies and to find different therapies that are based one hundred percent on scientific proof, on data. And that's what I did. There's five hundred studies that are referenced in this book.
And just try to to distill that in a way that people understand it so they can take charge of their own health. Yeah, it is a masterful job of weaving so many different studies into a narrative. And one of the parts that I really like is this focus on the fact that we are over oxygenated. Could you tell us a little bit about this and why getting less oxygen might be the path to health for many of us?
So a lot of us think that the more we breathe, the more oxygen we're bringing to our hungry cells and our muscles and our organs and our tissues. That's certainly what I thought whenever I was working out, whenever I'd be boxing or surfing, I would be breathing through my mouth and trying to get as much oxygen into my body as possible when I ran, which I hate jogging, but I did it anyway.
I've been breathing through my mouth and thinking that that is bringing me more oxygen. But the exact opposite thing is happening. If you don't believe me right now, you can take twenty or thirty big, deep breaths and after a while you're going to feel some lightness in your head. You might feel some tingling in your fingers or some coolness in your extremities. That is not from an increase of oxygen to these areas, but a decrease of circulation. So these are areas that are being denied the adequate amount of oxygen.
So to get the proper amount of oxygen into our bodies, we actually have to breathe less than we think is normal and we have to breathe slowly. And by doing that, we increase our oxygenation. This is so counterintuitive. It took me months to get my head around it. But we've known this this has been very clearly laid out in scientific literature. For one hundred and ten years, we've known this and still you you walk around, you see people jogging, you see people walking out, and they're just really forcing a bunch of undue wear and tear on their bodies and their brains.
There's a disturbance in the oxygen and the circulation to the brain when you breathe like that as well.
I think what's interesting about the better breathing that you have outlined here is that it causes many endogenous changes in our body, whether it's vasopressin at night or if you are doing a lot of nasal breathing, you can boost your nitric oxide by about six fold. This is very fascinating because all of the chemicals and substances and supplements that we've been looking for on the outside, it turns out that we might be able to endogenously dose them from the inside. So tell us a little bit about this.
And because it's like our bodies have this whole pharmacy that's waiting for us to just do the right things right, put in the right inputs, and then all of a sudden the pharmacy kind of comes alive again.
We'll think about how bizarre it is that throughout the day we're taking vitamin supplements, we're taking minerals, we're drinking processed goo, we're eating power bars. What we're trying to do if we do it right, is to adequately provide the nutrition to our bodies that they would be getting if we just stayed normal foods to begin with. So, so much of what's happening in medicine is just restoring us to the way we were before. We completely messed up our environment with industrialization.
I just think talking to a friend about this as well, how bizarre it is to think that we are now purchasing weights, bringing them into our house, lifting them up, putting them back down in the exact same place and then going on with our day or we are walking on a treadmill for an hour a day. So our ancestors never needed to do this because doing all that stuff was a part of their daily life. They were finding water, they were hunting, they were walking, they were eating whole foods.
They didn't need any of the supplements and minerals or goombahs. So I think a lot of this is true with breathing. All of the environmental inputs that we're surrounded with, especially if you live in a city, are not conducive to healthy breathing. We're stooped over, we're sitting down, we're breathing through our mouths. There's pollutants, there's allergens in the air. So by just allowing ourselves to breathe normally, the way we were designed to breathe, we can really influence so much of our health.
And that includes activating our endocrine system. That includes activating our immune system. That includes decreasing inflammation. It includes increasing the synchrony and the brainwave coherence throughout different structures of the brain. And this isn't woo woo weirdo new age stuff. This is basic biology of what happens when you place the body in the state of balance. Really, really cool. And the Framingham study, I think it's called, was a 70 year longitudinal study that you tell a little bit about in the book.
And if we're to boil it down, it's basically that the greatest indicator of life span is lung capacity. So when we start to breathe more consciously and more slowly through our nose, we are in a sense starting to expand our health spans and our life spans. Walk us through this a little bit and tell us about this study.
Yeah, so that quote is actually from the researchers behind this study, and they had found that even more than genetics, even more than what food you were eating or how much you exercise, it was lung size and respiratory health that determine how long you were going to live. And I didn't include this in the book. My editor thought it was too weird, but it is in the end notes. They also found that patients who had had lung transplants, if they were given lungs larger than their original lungs, they would live significantly longer than those patients who were given smaller lungs or normal sized lungs.
So no matter how you get those larger lungs, they're going to have a benefit to you. Luckily, we don't have to get a transplant to get larger lungs. So the lungs are malleable. And as we age, they tend to shrink. They can shrink about 15 percent lung capacity from the age of around 30 to 50 and then even more after that. So the key to having healthy respiratory health and and larger lungs and to stave off that entropy is to keep your rib cage in your intercostals, flexible, which if you think about yoga, modern yoga, what does it do?
You stretch in one direction and you breathe in this direction. Another. Newberry, so the whole point of it is to keep your ribcage and to keep your chest and your thoracic cavity very flexible so that you can breathe these easy, deep breaths without a lot of effort. If you consider that we're breathing on the higher end, twenty to twenty five thousand times a day, if you're struggling to do that, that's where all your energy is going to go and your body is just going to break down.
You want to breathe light and easy. And that's what having larger lungs allows us to do.
And a lot of this research and these insights were periodically found by these larger than life characters throughout history. And you did an awesome job of telling the story of some of these folks, whether it's Stowe is his name or or Olson. Could you tell us about some of your favorites? Maybe Stow's a great starting point. I think these were like a lot of my favorite parts of the book, because everybody loves the story of an underdog that might be crazy or might be a genius and eventually turns out to be kind of on the right track.
So making sure they're on the right track.
But what was sad with almost all of these stories is once these people develop these systems, once they disseminated them, once they were proven to work, including X-rays and data and whatever else you want to see, once these people are healed by this, all of these these therapies just seem to mysteriously disappear. And I was not looking for stories that had the same arc, but they were everywhere and not just in breathing, but in all of science. I mean, you can look back for the past five hundred years of all of the scientific revolutions, and it's usually the people that develop these things that invented them were complete outcasts or they were derided for most of their lives or all of their lives, only to be their discoveries only to be rediscovered twenty, thirty one hundred years later.
And people say, hey, wait, they were right after all. So Carl still is a great example. This is a vocal teacher, choral conductor. He was based in New Jersey for a long time. And he developed this breathing technique to allow singers to get more resonance out of their voices because he noticed that so many singers were taking these short and stilted breaths and then trying to sing. So he believed that by developing diaphragmatic movement, so by breathing lightly and by breathing deeper, you can sing better, which makes sense because all they'll sing is on the exhale.
So you need a big inhale need. You'd be able to exhale fully and completely to sing properly. So he was so successful at what he was doing that he was actually hired by the Met Opera to retrain opera singers who already knew how to sing pretty well, one of the most storied opera centers in the world. And then after doing this for like 10 years, the VA hospitals, pulmonologists and the VA hospitals thought that his therapy might be helpful for emphysema.
People who had essentially lost all diaphragmatic movement, who had essentially lost how to really breathe properly. So I'll cut to the chase here. He spent 10 years in VA hospitals and was able to do what was considered medically impossible. He restored these people's breathing. He restored their diaphragmatic movement. These people who were left for dead kept walking out of the hospital. And there's X-rays of this. There's tons of data to support it. The pulmonologist acknowledged it.
And then when style dies, what happens if you have emphysema? Now, none of these therapies are used. You're they're basically these people are basically given the same thing they were given 50 years ago before style was around. So it's pretty frustrating. But again, with knowledge, we have power. And I would hope that some people treating people with COPD and other forms of emphysema or even asthma would would look into respiratory therapy because it has been so successful in the past, which supports that it would be very successful now and in the future as well.
Sure. One of the examples of scientific research kind of disappearing that you mentioned is in the 1950s, a lot of this research from practitioners kind of vanishes. And you say it's traded in for pills and creams. If you have to speculate or maybe you have some concrete ideas here, I'm just very curious to know what's your take on why this research is kind of demonized and vanished? Is it because it's difficult to sell and monetized? What's your take on this?
Well, pills and creams are great.
I'm a huge fan of Western medicine. There's doctors in my family. This is what we talk about every Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, you know, if you get in a car accident. Or if you get your lungs punctured, don't do breath work, go to the hospital, like get some surgery and take your antibiotics, take your vaccine to people. So this is not an us versus them conflict. I don't view it as that at all. And what I spent so much time doing in this book was working with leaders in the field at leading institutions because they've been doing this work for sometimes decades and no one's really been listening to them.
So they were confirming so much of what these ancients had said. And now we have all of these wonderful machines that can so easily measure the benefits of breathing. You can see it in real time on the screen, in front of you. Breathing is doing for your brain what it's doing for your blood pressure and your body.
So one thing that so many of them told me, and these are their words, these are not my words, I try to stay out of this controversy. I am an objective observer, a science journalist. But repeatedly these people have said, well, of course, this isn't being explored more. Of course it's not being used because there is no way to make any money on it. Breathing is free. It's available to everybody and you can't trademark it.
And that's one of the reasons that it has just been so ignored. It has less to do with whether or not it worked. We know it works. It works incredibly well. It's just really hard to make cash on it. And especially in the US when you've got a private health care system, if you don't have that financial incentive behind it, it's just never going to fly. I hope that that's going to be changing soon. I hope that health care companies are going to want to take a deeper interest in preventative maintenance, which is really what breathing is so good for.
But, well, we'll have to wait and see.
The innovation and incentive there is going to come from the insurance companies that have the. Yeah. Some of the vested interest in it. In a way it has, but it's it's on the verge of feeling creepy. I feel hopeful about it, but still skeptical at this point.
You know, insurance companies, I would love to think that, but I'm don't want to go too far down this hole. And again, this is what I've heard from doctors, from doctors, from pulmonologists. Insurance companies are also tied into this economy of health care. So in some cases, they can actually benefit from people being on oral steroids for 20 years or 30 years. And they can benefit from people being on bronchodilators. I know we're like, how is that possible?
But just look at car companies and oil companies. You don't think they're in cahoots with one another? I have a car that's forty two years old that gets 30 miles per gallon in a way, four thousand pounds and now the average NPG is nineteen. So it makes you kind of wonder after a while what's really going on here. It's progress. That's progress. James actually learn to enjoy it and thank the overlords. So a lot of these diseases of civilization that we see, there's a path out.
And you mentioned earlier with a comment about some of the weirdo stuff that didn't get put in the book, what other examples of things that you discovered kind of fell into that territory of you really want to talk about them, but there just wasn't a place for them in the book?
Great question. I've been asked this question, so I'm really going back into the my my brain right now to dig some stuff up.
One thing that I got completely fascinated with was carbon dioxide therapy. And I wrote this huge section, almost chapters length section on it, and my editor saw it and she was just like, oh, this is so convincing, but it's so weird. It's a little too weird because it's not just talking about breathing. Right. It's an intervention. Not everyone can go and do CO2 therapy, but I am continued to be fascinated with him. I just published that that chapter, that section on my site as a PDF just so people can read it.
I've been talking with a bunch of different people about this as well. And what this therapy is, is about one hundred years ago they were using this. They were giving carbon dioxide somewhere between five to 10 percent carbon dioxide and the rest oxygen to people with asthma, to people with anxiety, to people with schizophrenia, to people with stuttering problems. And they found that it worked better than anything else. And these were scientists at Yale. They were scientists at Harvard, at Boston University, at top institutions were finding this stuff work better than anything.
And then Anaesthesiologist came along and they said, whoa, whoa, whoa, anyone can do this. Like, you don't need a license to do this. And a bunch of hucksters and idiots were exploiting CO2 therapy at. Circuses and saying it could cure addictions instantly and and so it got tainted. But the actual science behind this is still rock solid. And so it's been fascinating to me. I was just talking to Dr. Justin Feinstein last week about this is now researchers are rediscovering CO2 therapy and using it for the exact same things that scientists were using it for 70 years ago.
It just had been completely forgotten for about seven years and now it's coming back. So you just see this. This is another one of those strange arcs that these things are forgotten for for no reason in particular, just because maybe they didn't make money or too many fakers and hucksters were using it. But it's interesting that, you know, the past is prologue to so much of what we're doing with medicine, whether it's nutrition or whether it's breathing or whether it's exercise.
Sure. And the barrier to entry to this type of therapy, though, is pretty intense. Right, because you're, in a sense, getting starved for what you you think you need. And it's it seems like any therapy that is going to front load the discomfort is going to be a pretty tough sell.
Yeah, it is. But what's a tougher sell to me is to keep someone sick for 30 years with a very mild chronic issue that makes them miserable every every day. I don't think we're looking at that side of it. So there's there's various forms of carbon dioxide therapy. The kind that Yandell Henderson was using at Yale was mostly oxygen and just a little bit of CO2. And it wasn't uncomfortable to to take this in at all and maybe made you a little high.
That's it. He used it for asphyxia. He used it for strokes, for heart attacks. And it worked better than than anything else. It was CO2 tanks were actually on fire trucks in Chicago and New York because it works so well. And he was so frustrated when the tide started turning because the science was very clear. So for some of these more intense versions of this, the kind they used for schizophrenia and other serious mental disorders, yeah, it was not a picnic to go through this for a lot of people.
But this was the one time these these studies and these anecdotes are they're heartbreaking. They're just so sad to read these people who had not communicated with anyone else. They just sat in a corner, stared at a wall for 10, 20 years. They would do this therapy. They would snap out of it. They would start interacting with people completely normal. Their brains were back until about a half an hour later when they went back into their psychosis.
So to me, sometimes they would have these violent reactions to it. But what so you just going to give them tranquilizers for for 40 years and put them in a rubber room? Like it seems to me like having a few minutes of discomfort would be worth hearing. The core issue that you're suffering from completely, just like a workout in a sense. Just like a workout. Absolutely. Yes.
And I have a feeling many of us are going to be exploring and doing these workouts here in the future.
So as you have gone, the book is out, you're on the interview circuit, you're doing all kinds of press and commentaries on the book. Often I find at the end of a creative project when it enters the marketplace and you start talking to people about it, that's where you start to get to. You discover new things. There are things you wish you could have included, and then there are follow up conversations and maybe there's the idea for the next book.
So walk us through kind of like where you're at in that process right now. What's been the most interesting thing you've discovered since you've published this and let it out into the wild?
The greatest privilege to me, the greatest pleasure of being a writer is getting letters from people, not just researchers, but just laypeople, ordinary people. And I've been lucky enough with this book. I've I've actually gotten so many that I am no longer including my email on my website. But hundreds and hundreds of letters from pulmonologists, from Dennis, from orthodontists, from cardiologist's, from E.R. doctors, I mean, you name it, who have been saying to me that they discovered this years ago and people were mocking them or pooh poohing them or deriding them for one reason or the other.
But even though the science was so clear, especially with Dennis, if you look at extractions and braces versus expansion, these people were actually barred from doing dentistry for a long time, even though what they were doing was completely scientifically sound.
So hearing those letters, those those thank you letters from people who have a deep knowledge of this area who had discovered all of this way before I did, you know, is feels great. There's no other way to say it. It just feels awesome. And what's even better is with a few of these people, especially people. Larger institutions is now engaging in conversations with them, and we're hopefully going to be putting together a few research studies. I was contacted by a philanthropist who wants to start funding research studies.
Unknown, unbeknownst to most people, the vast majority of research in this area is privately funded. So there's not a lot of public funding. I won't name his name, but the top leader in the field of radiology at one of the top institutions in the world, his entire lab is privately funded because there's no way to make money from what he's what he's discovering here. Super sad, but that's that's the reality. So I guess to answer your question, it's this conversation really feels like it's just kicking into gear.
You know, I worked for years and years. This book put it out. But now things are it really feels like this may be the straw breaking the proverbial camel's back of where this book is, not the one that did it, but it's just one teeny little domino in a bunch of dominoes that had been set up for decades and decades. And if it's enough just to push things a little bit in the right direction, then to me that's that's really the greatest honor is to be able to to try to help people in a way that they can use this stuff.
It's free. It's available to everyone.
And from what I'm seeing and from what I'm reading, people are really getting some benefits from it. And that's that's the best. That's why I love doing what I do for sure. Yeah.
It's almost like you're kind of a standard bearer and the people can finally see the banner to follow behind and know that it's like going somewhere. I think that where this is going is very, very exciting because it's for the first time humanity has been through this shared challenge with the pandemic and the virus in a way where it's very clear now that we're all on team human. And the wonderful thing about this research and breath is that it's accessible to everyone. Right?
It's something that unites us and connects us. You've done a couple of classes with breathing where, you know, you breathe with people in a room and kind of like a guided fashion.
I'm curious, have you explored anything like all the Tropica breath work? And what has been your experience with us? Do you still go to any of these classes? Where you out with it?
Yeah, I was just talking to somebody who's who's one of the leaders in that community of the Tropic Breath work. So, you know, my job as a science journalist is to go into these different areas and with a very objective and critical eye and to look at what's working, what's not working. So there's no advantage for me to believe one thing or not to believe another. I'm not on a campaign for one specific type of breath work or anything.
So what I do is I try to experience this stuff as well so I can write about it from the inside. But try not to make myself a large part of these books at all. I want to be in the background, but it's only by really understanding how these processes work that I believe you can tell readers how they work, what's happening within their bodies. So all the tropica breath work. I did that years and years ago. Very interesting experience.
I know that they're interested in conducting some more scientific studies and into that field, which is great. I do. Wim Hof breathing. It's so crazy to call it Winmar breathing. This is my breathing. This is Pranayama.
This crap has been around for thousands of years and Wim is amazing. I talk to him Semih often and he's the first to admit he's like, I didn't invent any of this. This is nuts. So I do that, you know, four or five times a week I do Sudarshan cria maybe once every couple weeks I should be doing it more than a little busy. But beyond those larger breath work practices, the healthiest thing that I believe anyone can do and anyone can do this, which is even better, is breathe through your nose, spend a few minutes or longer if you can, breathing at a rate of about five to six seconds in five to six seconds out and you can extend your exhales whenever you're feeling stressed.
So try breathing in to about four seconds in about six seconds out. If you have a heart rate variability, monitor, blood pressure monitor or pulse ox or whatever, look at what's happening to your body when you change your breathing in this way, it starts entering this this state of coherence where everything is working at peak efficiency, which is exactly what we want to be doing throughout the day and at night. That's where your body can really heal itself in the best way.
And that five point five second inhale, five point five second exhale. You talk about weren't there a couple religious traditions that had this is kind of like their golden number or something to focus on? I think, like the rosary was, you know, you could. Do this in conjunction with it or something. Dozens, dozens of different prayers. This was a study that was conducted about 20 years ago by some Italian researchers where they took the rosary, the Catholic prayer cycle, the Ave Maria in its original Latin, which is recited by a priest and then recited by congregations, call and response.
So it takes about five to six seconds to recite each of these phrases. Right. And then there's about a five to six second wait. And then if you look at the Buddhist mantra, own money, pardon me, home, one of the most famous Buddhist mantras in history, it also requires that same respiratory rate.
But not only that, then they started looking at the Kundalini stonham or Omed and they found all of them are locked in at the same respiratory rate as about five to six breaths per minute, which is about a five to six second inhale and five to six second exhale.
I'm no longer calling this five point five because I've gotten so many letters from people saying, what if I'm a half a second off? Dude, I'm totally stressing out.
You need more carbon dioxide. Just relax these westerner's it's like chill, dude.
The point of this is to do this in a very relaxed way. What's comfortable for you? Maybe it's a four second inhale, maybe it's a six or eight or nine second exhale. You do something in that zone and you don't need to pray. You don't need to follow this. You can do that. And that's great. But just by breathing in this way, you are able to vastly increase your buro receptor sensitivity, which modulates blood pressure. You're able to increase oxygen to the brain.
You will be lowering your blood pressure. You will be lowering your heart rate. And it's a beautiful thing when you're hooked up to instruments. And he breathed this. This is something that I did for weeks and weeks. And he watch all of these these waves, these different waves, whether it's brain waves or whether it's your heart rate, your EKG or whether it's your blood pressure. And all of these waves sort of enter into these nice sinusoidal these smooth waves, like they all start interlocking this beautiful pattern because that's your body working at at peak efficiency.
And that's that's exactly where you want to be. James, was there a moment when you were writing this book or after the book that you came to see your earlier book deep in a whole new light? Or was it was it cathartic? Because I feel like this was kind of a stepping stone in the direction that you and the thread of information that you were following and deep.
Yeah, I mean, these two books are linked or very loosely linked. Some of these stories that I had heard, I had heard while I was researching deep. So in deep, you know, it's not just all about free diving. There's a lot of free diving in there because you're looking at the human connection to the water from the surface to the very bottom of the deepest, deepest ocean.
So when I was hanging out with free divers, I'm a free diver myself. You really have to establish this close relationship with your own body and especially your own breath. The only way to hold your breath for minutes at a time is to breathe properly when you're not holding your breath.
This was an exploration of what breathing could do underwater. That's what Deep touched on. But this book Breath is this exploration of what it can do for everyone on the terrestrial plane. So, yes, breathing is an integral part of free diving. Of course it is. But there are also so many different ways to breathe in so many different benefits beyond just being able to dive deep or to hold your breath.
Sure. And when it comes to next projects, you mentioned some that you're working on with the researcher from a top institution. Is there anything you can share? Is there any project you're working on right now that is really keeping you up late at night and getting you up early in the morning?
My next project is going to be to, like, log off and get some sleep. I mean, I've been pushing pretty hard. I have not been the best breed in the world over the past six months, but I'm going to sort of reconnect, slow things down. I don't want to check my phone for a week. That's going to be my Christmas gift myself and just really get my salary back. Yeah, I want to get my brain back.
But in the New Year, there's a bunch of really exciting stuff that I'm working on. I can't get too far into this, but there is more now and some deep conversations about possibly turning deep and breath into a mini series. So to be able to tell these stories, it wouldn't be a replication of these books at all. But to tell some of these stories, some of these explore these subjects in a different medium, I think would be fantastic to reach more people that way.
I also have a couple. Audio projects in the works and is strange and awful as it sounds right now, I do have another book idea that is just burrowing in my brain. I've had zero time to really consider how to approach it right now, but I actually prefer working on projects like this where it's not like you log on in the morning, you're like, OK, work on this one thing, figure this out.
This is another idea that I've been chipping away at for years and I can't tell you how excited I am to to go into that zone whenever that may be and to start booting up another book. I'm ready to go.
Fantastic. Yeah. And we hope it's for our sake that it's a little bit less than a decade and four years of actual writing. James, this has been awesome. Thank you so much for being generous with your time. Final question here. In all of this research, in your personal life, when you think of science and, you know, uncovering truths or rediscovering truths and presenting them to the public and to readers and laypeople everywhere, what really drives you and what would you say is the central motivation for this work?
Is it a compulsion or is it just your interest?
How do you describe that? Maybe it's an obsession and a compulsion. I get so curious about this stuff. What drives me is curiosity, and I feel so privileged every single day that my job allows me to be curious all day and to explore things I'm interested in. I spent decades writing about stuff I wasn't too interested in because that's how I was a good catalyst able to pay rent. So I feel like I've I've served my time writing about celebrities and all that kind of crap, that now I'm in this wonderful bubble where I'm able to explore subjects that fascinate me, because if your heart is not in this process, it's never going to work out.
Your books are going to suck, your research is going to suck. It's not going to be interesting. So I always try to find something that is endlessly fascinating to me and breathing. Even though I spent that amount of time researching it, talking to everyone, it still really is endlessly fascinating to me.
And I can't wait to further explore where it can take me in the rest of us. We're excited to see that as well. James, best of luck on the next projects and thanks so much for joining us today. Thank you for having me. Paul. I'm Sophia Bush, and you've been listening to Hidden in Plain Sight from Mission Dog. This podcast is sponsored by our friends at Splunk, the Data to Everything platform. In today's data driven world, every company, big or small newworld, is sitting on terabytes of unused, untapped and unknown data.
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