I developed the Schoen Breath Technique in 1984 as a tool for hospitalized patients who were in an acute state of stress. I had tried a number of other breathing and relaxation exercises throughout the years to relax these types of patients. But many times I found that it took too long for these exercises to take effect or that patients found them too cumbersome to continue on their own.
Determined to find another approach, I connected myself to a number of biofeedback monitors that could track my heart rate, blood pressure, galvanic skin response, frontalis muscle, and respiration levels. Over a number of trials, I was able to devise an easy technique that rapidly induces a state of relaxation and significantly lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
I have found that sometimes in as little as forty- five seconds, this technique can substantially shift an individual who is in an acute state of stress to a state of significant relaxation. I often called this technique my “95er,” because it generally works ninety-five percent of the time. One of the reasons my breath technique can be so effective at managing Agitance and Discomfort is that science has documented many times over the benefits of certain breathing styles on the brain and body. For instance, we know that breathing exercises directly affect areas of the brain stem that in turn strongly influence basic functions such as heart rate and sleep, not to mention breathing itself. Since the brain stem sends its impulses to the limbic system, we have the ability to adjust the limbic brain while at the same time influencing autonomic function to produce a relaxed feeling. So rather than reacting in a fearful and obstructive manner, the limbic brain will be much less reactive and less likely to draw resources away from the cerebral brain. The Schoen Breath Technique makes it possible to quiet the body and the limbic brain quickly through a pattern of inhales and exhales, generally taking only 40 to 50 seconds to create a significant effect.
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