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The Inspirational Breath

Whole Brain Breathing Techniques

By Tom Evans | Posted 3/1/11 | Updated 11/22/20

Many people ask me how they can be more inspirational or can experience more inspirations. The answer is perhaps surprising as it doesn't lie being more intelligent or studying. It involves doing something we all do every day, without thinking about it, and that's to breathe.

Of course, this is quite handy as we all breathe anyway to stay alive.

What brought me to this realisation was some research I did around the actual word, inspiration. Our words and our sayings give away much about their true semantics.


If you look up the word inspiration you will see the following definitions:

  1. an inspiring or animating action or influence:
  2. something inspired, as an idea.
  3. a result of inspired activity.
  4. a thing or person that inspires.
  5. Theology. a. a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul. b. the divine quality of the writings or words of a person so influenced.
  6. the drawing of air into the lungs; inhalation.

The first four you will probably have expected but it's maybe a surprise to see that there is a theological connotation for inspiration. The last definition is one that most people don't think of even though it's perhaps fairly obvious. Inspiration is of course one half of the respiration process.

Further insight comes from looking at its etymology, or root meaning. You find that the word 'inspiration' is comprised of the word "in" and the Latin "spirare" which meant "to breathe."

Now I was aware we speak on the out breath. Could it be that ideas come to us on the in breath? I did some more research and found that Eastern mystical practices, such as Taoism, use breathing exercises in meditation to both balance Yin and Yang energies and encourage our connection to the divine.

It turns out that everything breathes. Our Sun has a kind of breath which manifests as an 11 year sunspot cycle. The Earth 'breathe's in and out as the Moon orbits around it making the sea and even land underneath rise and fall. I even discovered recently that mobile phone networks 'breathe' in and out to cope with the rising and falling demands on voice and data traffic.

Breathing for us is much more than just about staying alive. It is an internal flux which is essential to stir up the universal 'mind stuff' and connect our consciousness with the collective mind.

Paying attention to the breath therefore is one of the first stages of meditation. Furthermore, breathing by fully engaging the diaphragm is how you pump prime your mind to allow inspiration to percolate in to your conscious awareness.

Whole Brain Breathing

Now our neurons don't store any oxygen but they need oxygen in order to function. So guess what? If you increase your depth of breathing by really using your diaphragm, your brain gets more oxygenated.

Now you don't have to do this all day but it's a great thing to do as you get up and when you need a shot of inspiration — for example, if you flag in the afternoon.

Here's the sequence to follow:

  1. Place your hands on your belly so your fingers tips on your left and right hands are touching.
  2. Now breath in so your belly really expands and your finger tips separate.
  3. Next breath out fully with your out breath being about 3 to 4 times longer than the in breath — and then let your fingers touch again.
  4. Repeat this nine times.
  5. If you want to get a bit fancy, on one in breath, imagine the oxygen filling your left brain and on the next, the right brain. Alternate this sequence and see if you can work up to 18 in and out breaths in this way.

©2011 Tom Evans. All rights reserved.