Patrick McKeown is an international best-selling author of The Oxygen Advantage and creator and master instructor of the Oxygen Advantage® technique. Having suffered from asthma, rhinitis and sleep-disordered breathing for over 20 years, Patrick is able to offer both theoretical knowledge and his own experiences to help clients to overcome similar challenges. Tune in as he shares how optimal breathing techniques can impact your athletic performance, sleep, workouts, and so much more. Breathe Better.
Table Of Contents
- Breathe Better: An Introduction
- How Do You Breathe Everyday?
- Nasal Breathing and Weightlifting
- Nasal Breathing and Sleep
- Central Governor Theory
- Spleen Neck Contractions and Improved Performance
- Mouth Breathing Causes Trauma To The Mouth
- Getting Out Of Your Head
- Taping Your Mouth When Sleeping
- Mouth Breathing and Erectile Dysfunction
- Learn More How To Breathe Better
Connect with Patrick
Breathe Better: An Introduction
Mike: Here with Patrick McKeown of Oxygen Advantage, I got to attend your seminar yesterday, which was amazing. I was just mentioning before the show that most of my breath work stuff that I've done up to this point, people who listen to the show know I get into that world quite a bit. I've had some performance impact from the stuff I've done in the past, but I have yet to attend a workshop or have education around something that is specifically tied to physical performance.
Mike: I really like your approach to it. I learned a lot about how to improve the body's ability to consume oxygen, also the body's ability to stay in that aerobic zone a lot longer and ward off any of the acidosis that might be building up. That burn that keeps people from being able to work out longer. The numbers and the stats that you're able to throw out on the improvements that athletes are making, even at the highest levels, based off of doing the exercises we went through was surprising.
Mike: I was surprised what the studies are producing so… I'm really looking forward to this conversation today. I'm looking forward to the audience getting to hear what you have to say because this is very critical. Most people are missing this part in their training. I know that after what we did yesterday, there's going to be… I'm going to change how I do my warm ups and my cooldowns based on what I learned from you yesterday. I hope people were able to take away some of that by listening today.
How Do You Breathe Everyday?
Mike: I really like that as an initial selling point. I think it's obvious to people at this point that if you can breathe better, you can perform better physically, but can you talk about that first?
Patrick: Sure, in terms of breathing, there's a number of applications that we need to look at, and the very basic is looking at how do you breathe better every day? Not necessarily how do you breathe during physical performance. Physical performance, your breathing then is influenced by your everyday breathing. If your everyday breathing is off, your sleep, your breathing during sleep is off and you're breathing during performance is of.
Patrick: If you're breathing during performance is of, you're more likely to experience disproportionate practices, you're gasing out too soon, you're not optimizing your breathing in terms of getting sufficient oxygen to the muscles. You're more likely to go anaerobically quicker. Many people experience Bronchoconstriction.
Patrick: The mind as well can be in a state of agitation and focus and clarity, and concentration and attention on the task at hand is going to be affected. There's two pillars to it. I always look at functional breathing first. How is the person breathing? Are they breathing slowly, using the diaphragm breathing in and out through the nose, natural pause and exhalation and is your breathing effortless or many athletes and studies show up to 50% of athletes have poor breathing patterns.
Mouth breathing vs Nasal breathing
Patrick: In your everyday life. The other thing about breathing is how many times have we heard, the more air you breathe, the more oxygen gets delivered to your cells and you're talking about people who are pushing themselves too hard. People are pushing themselves too hard during breathing. They're not breathing efficiently. They're not breathing optimally, they're not getting the adequate oxygen delivery to the cells. We need to start looking at how people…
Patrick: I'm here in Venice at the moment and I'm staying there and I'm watching everybody passing me by running and I would say 95% of them are mouth breathing. Mouth breathing is faster per chest. Mouth breathing is not ventilating the lower lobes of the lungs. Mouth breathing is reducing the distribution of blood to the lungs. It's pulling the person into a more fight or flight. It's about 20% less efficient than breathing through the nose with deeper breaths activating the diaphragm.
Patrick: Nasal breathing is easy to achieve if we only put our heart and soul into it and practice it. I will tell you, anybody who switches to nasal breathing for a period of time during physical exercise, they will start feeling benefits pretty quickly with it.
Mike: It doesn't feel good though.
Patrick: It can feel a little bit more suffocating because it's adding an extra load onto you but that's only the training effect. After a couple of weeks you adjust to that. Now of course it depends on nostril size as well.
Nitric Oxide and it's importance
Mike: There's something to this. Can you talk about what's going on with the nasal breathing specifically and the mechanics and also the nitric oxide I think is super fascinating?
Patrick: In 1990… I'll start off with nitric oxide first. In 1991, researchers first identified that the nose was source for the gas, nitric oxide. With every breath that you take in through your nose, you're carrying this nitric oxide laden air into your lungs.
Mike: By the way, people are spending lots of money on nitric oxide supplements.
Patrick: Totally and also Viagra is based on the principles of nitric oxide.
Patrick: When you breathe better through your nose, you're carrying nitric oxide into your lungs and nitric oxide is going to sterilize the air. It opens up the airways, it's a bronchodilator, it redistributes the blood throughout the lungs, it increases the gas exchange taking place. We don't know exactly how long the gas lives for. Some people are saying it last for up to five seconds. Some people are saying it's up to 30 seconds.
Patrick: If it lasts for up to 30 seconds, the nitric oxide from the nose is getting into the circulation. Nitric oxide in the blood vessels helps to reverse the buildup of plaque and helps to keep the arteries flexible. It plays a role in neural transmission and the signaling of the cardiovascular system. Also, as I said, nitric oxide and the functioning of how… basically the premise of Viagra how it works is based on the principle of nitric oxide.
Nasal Breathing and Weightlifting
Patrick: For men, nasal breathing is absolutely vitally important, both during rest but also during sleep. The other aspect of it is that many people are talking about deep breathing. Take a deep breath, use your diaphragm, but they're not emphasizing nasal breathing. If you go around with your mouth open, you're not using your diaphragm effectively. Your nose is directly connected with the diaphragm. We have to consider that the nose, the nasal cavity, the trachea, the bronchi, the bronchial it's one airway.
Patrick: This is not a separate airway and neither is the airway separate from the rest of the body, because the airway is directly connected with the emotions, and the airways connected to sleep. When we're looking at anxiety of the mind, when we're looking at sleep, when we're looking at breathing, the three are interconnected. When you breathe through your nose, and you're breathing more functionally, you should have lateral expansion and contraction at the lower ribs.
Patrick: The lower two ribs, as you breathe in, your ribs should be moving out and as you breathe out, your ribs should be moving in. That's a good indication of intra abdominal pressure. Intra abdominal pressure is the pressure created during inspiration. It's a pressure that's there and it's helping to stabilize the spine to prevent the spine from buckling. You can imagine a weightlifter that's lifting a strong weight, that weightlifter is relying on the spine being able to support the weight. That weight lifter will take a breath in.
Patrick: There's a balloon effect here. The weightlifter will take a breath in and hold the breath and it's creating a tension and the pressure and that pressure is helping to stabilize the spine. Functional breathing is important for that.
Patick's Journey from mouth to Nasal breathing
Patrick: I would say that when I was about 21, 22, 23 years of age, when I switched from mouth to nose breathing, after years of chronic mouth breathing. I was waking up exhausted every morning, I was wheezing all the time, and I was in a high state of fight or flight. All any of your listeners have to do is look down at the chest and take a few mouth breaths and see where are you breathing into.
Patrick: Then switch to nasal breathing and put your hands at your lower ribs down by your sides and really slow down your breath. Even slow down the breath to the point that you're really slowing down the speed of the breath in and you're having a very relaxed and slow gentle breath out. Slow your breathing down to the point that you feel that you're not getting enough air.
Patrick: That's telling you the carbon dioxide is increasing in the blood and within about three to four minutes, you'll start to feel warmer. We have to consider, how can we breed to open up the airways, to improve blood circulation, to improve oxygen delivery to the cells, to activate parts of [inaudible 00:20:00] response. Also focusing on the breath as a means to train the brain to be concentrated, to be focused, and to reduce agitation of the mind.
Air hunger and vasodilation
Mike: This was something that you talked about yesterday, which I probably heard this before, and I wasn't ready to hear it but it's always one of those… When you said it, I go, that sounds like such should be such common knowledge. Maybe it's never been said before and you're the guy which is… It's the carbon dioxide. If we're breathing… I guess if we're breathing too much then the red blood cells are not releasing the oxygen and so getting into that state that you're talking about, where you're breathing, what you were calling air hunger.
Mike: You're getting a little bit of that, the diaphragm gets a little bit of that quiver and you get a bit of that air hunger. That warming feeling you get and the extremities is a result of-
Patrick: There's a second effect happening there. We have 70,000 miles of blood vessels throughout the body. It is true that when you slow down your breathing, or when you're breathing functionally, you have more normal carbon dioxide in the blood. Also you've got a reduced sensitivity to the buildup of the gas of carbon dioxide. From a biochemical chemical point of view, there's two things that we need to be looking at.
Patrick: What is the levels? What is the pressure of carbon dioxide in the blood and secondly, what's your sensitivity to the buildup of the gas. Because ultimately, carbon dioxide comes from the cells into the blood and it's carbon dioxide that's the primary drive to breath. If you're doing physical exercise, your muscles are working hard, you're generating more CO2, and your breathing is driven by your body's reaction to the increase of CO2 in the blood.
Helping People with Raynaud's Disease
Mike: I run into a lot of people that have this, cold hands and cold feet and you went into this yesterday. People have Raynaud's is what they call it. I run into people and they go, "Oh, I have this. There's no solution for it." You were talking yesterday I go, this sounds like this is… There's never one answer for everything. It sounds like this could be the thing for people to have cold hands and feet.
Patrick: Raynaud's is an extreme version of cold hands to the point that the hands can go blue, even if the temperature outside isn't too bad. Many people have just normally cold hands without having Raynaud's. I've worked with thousands of individuals and chronic hyperventilation causing cold hands and feet is very common. I would say to your listeners again, practice this, your breath is with you, it's intrinsically linked with you. Sit down in a comfortable place, close your mouth, place your tongue resting in the roof of the mouth, breathe through your nose, and start really slowing down your breathing.
Patrick: Really slow down the speed of the air coming in and out of the nose. Don't hold your breath. Don't freeze your breathing, just slow down your breathing so you feel hardly any air coming in and out of your nose. Slow it down to the point of air hunger, but not to the point of stress. Do it for three minutes and see if you can increase the temperature of your hands because the proof is in the pudding.
Nasal Breathing and Sleep
Patrick: This doctors is considered the father of sleep medicine. He's been writing about the importance, the critical importance of restoring nasal breathing during sleep. Here you have the founding fathers talking about it but it hasn't trickled down to general practitioners. It hasn't trickled down to the general population. If your listeners who are waking up with a dry mouth in the morning, you are not likely to wake up feeling refreshed. Some of you will feel refreshed, but I would say that the vast majority of you don't.
Patrick: This is something… I'm 45 years of age, and once you hit 45, you still feel young as I do. But individuals over 40 years of age are six times more likely to breathe through an open mouth during sleep. We are the group who are more prone to sleep apnea, who are more prone to snoring and then we're expected to go in and do a decent day's work, to be productive, to be able to concentrate, to be able to be calm. How can you become productive if you're feeling tired all the time, but nobody's putting that connection?
Patrick: Nasal breathing is absolutely vital for deep sleep. Deep sleep is absolutely vital for vitality.
Treating Nasal Congestion
Patrick: I think the nose is such a fascinating organ in the human face. If you think about it, it's there. It's the first point of entry to condition, to humidifier, to filter, to warm, to moisten, to regulate volume, and to bring air into the body. Nasal congestion is pretty common. It affects about 60 million Americans. It's generally about 30% of the Western population.
Patrick: If you have what we call perennial rhinitis, and that means that you have a sensitivity and you have a stuffy nose say for one hour a day, most days of the year, or if you've got hay fever. Now, just before I teach you or I go through this exercise. Don't do it if you're pregnant. Don't do it if you have cardiovascular issues, or if you've got problematic health. For the vast majority of people, all we're doing is holding off the breath and holding the breath until a reasonably strong air hunger.
Patrick: What I'd say to you is to stand up, take a normal breath in through your nose, a normal breath out through your nose. Pinch your nose, hold your nose. Now walk and just walk while you hold your breath until you feel medium air hunger. Then let go and breathe in through your nose. Just normalize your breathing and breathe normally then for about half a minute or so. Then do another repetition. Again, normal breath in through your nose, normal breath, pinch your nose, hold your nose, walk holding the breath until you feel a medium air hunger. Again, normalize your breathing.
Go harder the third time
Patrick: Then the third repetition go harder. Take normal breath in and out through your nose, pinch your nose, hold your nose, walk holding the breath and walk for as many pases as you can while holding the breath then let go, breathe in through your nose and normalize your breathing again. Your breath at the end is going to be bigger but normalize your breathing.
Patrick: Do that about five or six times. On the fifth or sixth attempt, you'll start to notice that your nose is opening up. This is not new information. 1923, I have a paper showing that breath tolling in man and animals help to relieve nasal congestion. What's happening? We don't know. We've published… There has been a couple of papers on it. I did a small pilot study. I was involved with Limerick and with individuals with asthma and rhinosinusitis, we reduced symptoms by 70% treatment follow up. That was without medication.
Patrick: No antihistamines, no nasal steroids and no nasal decongestants. Again, your nose is paramount to activating to diaphragm and your diaphragm breathing muscle is linked with your emotions. If you're going around with your mouth open and your fast and shallow breathing, your mind is going to be more likely to be agitated. Look at the breathing of people who were stressed. Look at the calmness or the agitation of people who breathe fast and shallow.
Patrick: Strong breathe holds will be suited to most people but for some people they aren't. If a female is pregnant, please don't do any strong breath holds or if you suffer from high blood pressure, hypertension, or obstructive sleep apnea, don't do strong breathe holds. Diabetes type one, just don't do the minor because your blood sugar levels will drop. For normal everyday people who are doing exercise, breathe better holding is a really good way to impart performance improvements.
Patrick: The premise of it is that we are deliberately stopping breathing. As you stop breathing, our cells continue to extract oxygen, therefore, the amount of oxygen and blood is going to drop. We have intermittent hypoxia, but at the same time, carbon dioxide is increasing. Because of the hypoxic effect, and because of the increased CO2, you've got a build up of hydrogen ions are basically acidosis.
Patrick: This is going to cause adaptations and probably inside in the muscle compartment, that it improves the buffering capacity. When the buffering capacity is improved, then your lactic acid is delayed or fatigue is delayed. You can improve… The other thing about it is that's interesting is that many people do high intensity interval training. You look at MMA fighters, they really train hard. Then when it comes to competition, some of them are injured, because they've overtrained.
Stimulating anaerobic glycosis
Patrick: The reason that they train hard is to stimulate anaerobic glycolysis. If you do high intensity interval training, you're not really going to drop your blood oxygen saturation by that much. Instead do breath holding. You can do breath holding during a jog. There's no trauma involved, and you're really stimulating anaerobic glycolysis. That's causing an increase in improvement to the buffering capacity. Also, it can improve your aerobic capacity by virtue of spleen contraction.
Patrick: Your spleen is a blood bank. It contains about 8% of your red blood cells, the quality of the blood in the spleen is very high. It's 80% . Even if you do one strong breath hold, your spleen will start releasing increased red blood cells into circulation. Your red blood cells carry oxygen. If there's an increase in your oxygen carrying capacity, that increases your VO2 max. Your VO2 max is directly related to your oxygen carrying capacity.
Patrick: How do you do it? Give you one exercise, you start off, you take a normal breath in and out through your nose, you pinch your nose, you start walking. As the air hunger increases, go faster. Increase your speed from walking to a light jog. From a light jog to a faster jog. Keep relaxing into the body and keep moving while you hold your breath. Keep going until you feel a pretty strong air hunger, then let go and breathe better through your nose but breathe better minimally for about six breaths.
Patrick: In other words, don't give in to taking that big breath of air that you really want to take at the end of it. Instead you want to have really controlled breathing for about six breaths, because what you're doing there is you're prolonging the hypoxic and hypercapnic response.
Central Governor Theory
Patrick: There's one theory, it's called the central governor theory and I think it was hailed in 1924 to come up with at first but it became more popular by Dr. Timothy Noakes, who is a physiologist from South Africa. Basically, he said, "What sets the limits of an athlete during physical exercise." He said yes, he says, "Their legs go jelly." But he said it doesn't make sense that the body is trying to protect the legs
Patrick: The body isn't trying to protect the legs, the body is trying to protect the heart from over-revving. When the athlete is exerting themselves to hard, the brain sends a message to the legs to go jelly so that the athlete has to seize or slow down the performance to protect the heart. This has been a hard training, though. You can change the central governor.
Patrick: Breathe holding, you're doing the same because one theory might be that the brain and the heart… What the brain is monitoring, its monitoring the degree to change your blood gases. It's also going to be monitoring discomfort of the diaphragm by pre monitoring different aspects throughout the body but certainly blood gases will play a role there.
Patrick: I think there's a lot to be achieved by bringing simple breath holding into your warm up. Start your warm up, nasal breathing, do a breath hold every minute or so. You'll open up your nose, you'll open up your airways. Also, when you hold your breath, you increase blood flow to the brain. You were talking about presentations. It was something that I was doing in a corporate capacity.
Spleen Neck Contractions and Improved Performance
Mike: One of the things you talked about yesterday is… You just mentioned the spleen neck contractions and introducing up to 8% more red blood cells into the bloodstream, which carries oxygen, which is obviously going to improve your performance for the next hour.
Patrick: Yes, 60 minutes, yes.
Mike: But doing this also sends a signal to your body that it needs to produce more red blood cells. So the bone… Is it the bone marrow that produces this or is it…?
Patrick: Yes, basically your spleen is your blood bank. Human body is very intelligent. If the body senses that there is inadequate oxygen, it's going to have some way of releasing more red blood cells into circulation. Your spleen contains 8% of your entire red blood cells. But the quality of the blood in the screen is very high. One breath hold will cause the spleen to release red blood cells into circulation. Doing five breathe holds will pick dash.
Patrick: Five battles with about a minute rest in between each, is optimal for causing spleen contraction. The spleen will release red blood cells into circulation and it takes about 60 minutes for the spleen to reabsorb the red blood cells. I would say to an athlete, do it prior to an event. Do strong holds, but straight after during the strong breathe holds have about five to 10 big breaths just to get rid of acidosis. You don't want to be too acidic because of the increase of CO2 but you do want to get the spleen in contraction.
Increased young red blood cells
Patrick: The second effect there that happens is, as you hold your breath and your blood oxygen saturation drops, your kidneys and your liver to a lesser extent, they will synthesize a hormone called erythropoietin or EPO. EPO will send a message to the bone marrow to mature red blood cells. That effect will take about three to four days. It takes about three to four days from the initial increase of EPO before there's an increased young red blood cells.
Patrick: That effect would be, if you are training hard and if you've got an event in three or four days, do breathe holding right up to pretty much two days before the event so that you can be maximizing your potential. In terms of aerobic performance. In terms of respiratory muscle strength, and again, that's something that's being missed. With the breathing muscles fatigue, whether you're doing high intensity interval training, or whether you're doing prolonged marathon running.
Patrick: 50% of athletes it's estimated can experience respiratory muscle fatigue, for the respiratory muscle fatigue, blood is stolen from the legs to feed the diaphragm. Your legs give out. I think… Mike, when we're talking about breathing, I think people have failed to realize the potential application. What I'm talking about this I'm not just giving opinions. A lot of research.
Patrick: This has been added to the techniques used by athletes including altitude tense, altitude training since 2017. I don't know if I'm pronouncing her second name correctly from mid Sweden University. She was fascinated by primitive groups of people who were able to hold their breath, five, six and more minutes. She was looking at the physiology.
The cost associated with breathing
Mike: Can you talk about the percentage of oxygen that goes to the breathing muscles?
Patrick: There's a cost associated with breathing. Even as we sit here, about two to 3% of our oxygen consumption is going to support the breathing muscles. If you go for a walk, or if you do a light jog, it's about three to 6%. If you do intense physical exercise, it's about 10%. If you do maximum physical exercise, it's about 13 to 16%.
Patrick: If you consider it, your diaphragm needs its own blood flow, and if the diaphragm is getting fatigued, and this could explain why people get a stitch. Now, it's not known entirely, but it could be a theory behind that. That we have to have our breathing muscles functioning in a way that are both efficient and optimal. Because a large amount of the oxygen that we are consuming, that could be devoted to the locomotor muscles to the limbs, et cetera, is going to support the diaphragm. Why should we breath dysfunctionally and waste oxygen unnecessarily?
Breath holding and it's athletic benefits
Patrick: Repeated sprint ability is a very good performance indicator in team sports, basketball, ice hockey, rugby, football, whatever. Repeated sprint ability is your ability to do all out effort, followed by a very brief recovery before you have to do it again. Now pre trial, these individuals, both the experimental group and the control group, they were achieving about nine repeated sprints before exhaustion. Exhaustion was considered 85% of your performance during an isolated sprint
Patrick: The researchers had the athletes and the experimental group and they dropped high intensity interval training one session per week. They replaced it with two sessions of breath holding. Two sets of eight repetitions. Within four weeks repeated sprint ability increased from nine to 14.7, or 14.8. It was about a 30%, or 33% increase in repeated sprint ability within four weeks.
Patrick: But yes, breathing is still at the bottom of the list. I would say to any athlete who is looking for gains, and gains in terms of bringing something into your life that doesn't cost you anything. There's no additional cost in terms of changing your breathing patterns once you get the information. Something that can affect your sleep, your emotions, but also the understanding behind it. I think Mike, this is the key. There is so much conflicting information about breathing out there.
Mike: You've mentioned this term a few times, and you broke it down yesterday. Functional breathing?
Patrick: Functional breathing, there's no definition of what it involves. What are we looking at, we're looking at a number of things. One is, it's primarily driven by the nose. It's in and out through the nose, and it's driven by the diaphragm. Basically, as you breathe in you have your ribs moving out, and as you breathe out, your ribs are moving in. It's regular. That it's regular tidal volume, the amount of air that you're taking per breath, and the respiratory rate that you're taking is regular.
Patrick: In other words, you're not breathing normally followed by sighing. One sigh every few minutes from me would be an alarm bell. Oftentimes, I see it with people with panic disorder. They have normal breathing then they have regular sighing. The other aspect of it is that breathing should be effortless. Breathing should be light, it should be very quiet. The respiratory rate shouldn't be any more than about 12 breaths per minute. I know a textbook would say 14 or some textbooks would say 16.
Patrick: We're saying, bring down your respiratory rate, ideally, could be six to eight breathes per minute. 10 breathes is pretty good, 12 breathes is pretty good and an upper level would be 14. When we're looking at breathing, we need to look at not just the respiratory rate, not just the number of breathes per minute, we also need to look at the tidal volume. We need to look at the amount of air exchange with each breathe. we want to look at whether it's diaphragmatic or upper chest during rest. We want to look is it regular? Is there a natural pause following exhalation.
Natural pause in breathing
Patrick: What I mean by a natural pause is that it happens naturally without you having to think about it. If you're driving your car, just paying a little bit of attention to your breathing while at the same time having your attention on the road and just ask yourself, when you exhale naturally and passively. Is there a natural pause before you feel the need to breathe in again.
Patrick: We use a breath hold time, the board score by the oxygen level test. That also gives us a good feedback of whether a person is breathing functionally or not. Anybody can do this. You just need a timer. You should be sitting down for about five minutes before you do it. Take a normal breath in through your nose and a normal breath through your nose. Pinch your nose, and time measure in seconds until you feel the first definite desire to breath or the first involuntary contractions of your breathing muscles.
Patrick: Your breathe at the end should be normal. If you're less than 25 seconds, it's indicative of dysfunctional breathing patterns. If you're above 25 seconds, it's indicative of functional breathing. Use the breathe, as well as observing the breathe, the regularity, the cadence of the breathe, the pause after exhalation and is your breathing effortless.
Mouth Breathing Causes Trauma To The Mouth
Mike: Yes. Another thing that was said yesterday was mouth breathing is trauma to the mouth and lungs which cause inflammation?
Patrick: Yes, absolutely. Maybe your listeners can verify it. Go out for a few beers tonight, snore all night with your mouth open, and you'll wake up with a sore throat in the morning. A sore throat is going to… indicates that there's trauma to the throat. It will cause inflammation of the throat. The most accepted theory for exercise induced bronchoconstriction, is the sucking of the moisture out of the airways due to cold dry air. If you look at the sport which produces the most asthma, or exercise induced bronchoconstriction it's cross country skiing.
Patrick: Cold dry air taken in through the mouth. Basically the lungs are overwhelmed by the amount of air that they are required to condition. There's an energy expended by the body. When the body is conditioning that air that's coming in through the nose. The nose is expanding an energy and filtering, moistening and warming and regulating volume and conditioning air to the ideal condition before that air is drawn into the lungs and for gas exchange to take place.
Patrick: They're doing the very techniques that we are using to help people with asthma. Don't breathe so hard using breath holding, because breath holding itself, you can open up your nose holding your breath but you can also open up your lungs.
Patrick: From 2010 onwards, I was looking at mainly with sleep, anxiety, and then sports performance was more 2015, 2016 to the present day.
Getting Out Of Your Head
Mike: Yes, they are hard to find. Let's talk about concentration as a skill. You talked about the three ways to get out of your head?
Patrick: It's a good term. When we're relating to life, are we really relating to life? Are we living in our own head? We start developing analytical talk maybe at the age of four years of age. We spend a lot of our time dwelling with our attention stuck in the head, regurgitating incessant, repetitive and often self critical thoughts. We don't even realize that we are thinking the same thoughts because we don't pay attention to what we're thinking about.
Patrick: I spent years and my concentration was affected because I was living in my head all the time. How can you live life stuck in your head? I would walk down a street, I wouldn't see the street at all. I could be in a beautiful scenery, down at the beach, looking out into the water. I wouldn't have enough attention on where I was because most of my attention was stuck in my head.
Patrick: In 1997, 98, with some tutoring and presence and taking my attention out of my mind, to help to still and quieten the mind. The purpose is not to become a vegetable, but the purpose is to be able to take your attention out of the mind to quiet and the repetitive and incessant thinking that the thoughts, which are serving nothing other than a distraction.
3 tools to get out of your head
Patrick: Three tools. One is focusing on the breath, I think it's the easiest one to start off with. Pay attention to it. Breathing in and out through your nose improving sleep, wonderful place to start. The second way, how do you bring your attention into the present moment? Well, any primary or kindergarten child will realize that we communicate with life through five or six senses.
Patrick: The five senses are our sight, our hearing, our taste, our touch, our smell. Sixth sense might be intuition. We communicate with life through our five senses. But how much of our time throughout the day do we actually have all of our attention immersed in what we are doing? Are we really looking or are we just partially lacking With most of our attention stuck in our head?
Patrick: Are we really drinking that cup of coffee or are we just going through the motions of drinking the cup of coffee without even tasting it, and then the rest of the time, attention is in our head? How many times have you listened to a piece of beautiful music and you've heard the first couple of notes, the first couple of bars and the next thing bump, our attention is in our head.
Patrick: Our mind… It's almost that our mind is there to totally distract us from living and completely immersing ourselves with life. With experiencing life. You could be down at the beach, you're not seeing the things that are around you. You're not feeling the sun on your shoulders, you're not listening to the kids, you're not hearing the waves. The reason that we're not doing it is because our attention is stuck in our head. It's time to get out of our heads.
Bringing attention to the inner body
Patrick: Your breathe is the anchor between the body and the mind. The third way, of course, is to bring your attention into the inner moment. Sorry, bring your attention into the inner body. Mike talked when he is doing his weights, he's fully immersed in his body. His weight training is not just about lifting weights, but his weight training as a meditation. Anything that you're doing, bring your attention fully into what you're doing, the quality will be so much better, your work is so much better. But also, the more you focus on your breathing, the amygdala, which is the part of the region of the brain, that very primitive part, which is responsible for that fight or flight, it has been shown to shrink.
Patrick: Neuroplasticity, new neural connections form in the brain, and this helps us deal better that when we are in a stressful situation, we are better able to deal with it. When we're in a sad situation, we're better able to deal with it. Life is softer when we have the capacity of our mind. Let's tap into that wonderful resource. Don't just live in your head.
Taping Your Mouth When Sleeping
Mike: Last thing I want to mention, the thing that will raise eyebrows before we go, is you tape your mouth shut when you go to sleep?
Patrick: Yes. I've done so since 1997 98. I can't remember-
Mike: Early adopter here.
Patrick: I was an early adopter, but I was one of those individuals who was waking up exhausted all the time. We have to… When we wake up in the morning, we should wake up feeling concentrated. What do I mean by feeling concentrated? As soon as you wake up, you can take a piece of complicated material, a paper, a journal article and you can read it and understand it. That you have the concentration to be able to decipher, to analyze and to absorb that information to some degree.
Patrick: I was waking up exhausted and it will take maybe two to three hours to get my head right. That's not normal and it's certainly not normal for a 20 year old. One of the things that I did was, I read a newspaper article about two things, breathe through your nose and breathe light. This was back in the day.
Patrick: I placed it across my lips, but I was really feeling suffocated because I had such poor breathing. I had to have breathe right strips across my nose, and paper tape across my lips. Within two days, I started waking up with the best night's sleep that I had ever had. This is not an exaggeration. I have pretty much taped my mouth every night since including last night.
Benefits of Taping Your Mouth
Patrick: There are so many different benefits to it. I've had maybe seven, 8000 people tape and they were just my clients. My books have sold many thousands of copies and taping is advocated in each of those. Now, of course, I wouldn't recommend taping if you're feeling nauseous, if you drink alcohol, a child. Things like that. You have to use common sense. At the same time, taping was the one thing that absolutely brought the quickest benefits within one to two days. Any of your listeners, if you're waking up tired, go get some tape.
Patrick: There's even tapes now in the market, lipsealtape.com, developed by a dentist. Frank Seaman, Dr. Frank semen from Colorado. He was getting frustrated with his patients they were bruxing. They were grinding their teeth and they were breaking the crowns. He started introducing taping to make sure that bruxing reduced because bruxing during the day is an anxiety problem and bruxing during sleep is a sleep problem.
Patrick: Taping during the night will help to reduce sleep apnea and snoring. I think it's crucial. The nose is for breathing, both during wakefulness and also during sleep.
Mouth Breathing and Erectile Dysfunction
Patrick: You're talking about a boner, mouth breathing males during sleep are more likely to have erectile dysfunction. Every male without being too crude here, should wake up with a boner in the morning, every man. That's a normal indicator of normal autonomic functioning. That's why any man who isn't waking up with a boner in the morning start getting tape.
Mike: I was talking to a group of people the other day and I said, Look, it's really simple. Before you get blood work to tell you if you're unhealthy or healthy or not, if you're a guy and if you're taking solid shits, your shit is… You got nice solid almond colored floaters and you're waking up with a boner every day, you're good. You're fucking good. If you're not, something is going on somewhere.
Mike: I'm with you on that. I'm going to start taping my mouth shot tonight. I'm going to give it a shot. I don't know. The beard may make it extra challenge, but I'll figure it out. Thank you for joining me today. This was a load of amazing information. I imagine people will be listening to this three times over and taking notes.
Learn More How To Breathe Better
Mike: Where do people find out more information? You've got some cool breathing stuff on your website.
Patrick: Yes, our website is oxygenadvantage.com. If you subscribe to our newsletter, you'll receive a PDF with cadence breathing and helping to restore normal autonomic functioning. It talks about the bar receptors. It talks about heart rate variability with the relationship of breathing in simple terms so that anybody will understand this. We've got books. I give to our webinars. Every few months people come in to join me from around the world. I go through each of the exercises with people online with DVD sets.
Patrick: We've got instructor trainings, we've got a lot going on. Now I'm just delighted to see that breathing is really taking off. Since 2002 till 2015 it was very level plateauing. Yes, okay. I was working alone, so I was able to manage it but since 2015. I don't know what has happened. We're delighted. I'm delighted.
Mike: Excellent, and the book, the Oxygen Advantage-
Patrick: Yes, the Oxygen Advantage is published here. It's available online. It's probably in quite a few bookstores throughout the United States as well. Barnes and Nobles, et cetera.