Breathing calms you down, duh!

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A recent report out of Stanford University that suggests a link between slow, deep breathing and calming anxiety

What do you know; breathing really does calm you down!  I just learned about quick video and article at about new research at Stanford University that suggests that slow and deep breathing helps you feel calm.

This was so exciting to hear about – I just wish I could have stayed excited.  Instead, after following my curiosity about this study, I was surprised at the mixed feelings that came up after reading a little more detail.

Read on and share your opinion!

The researchers didn’t just affirm that slow/deep leads to calm. They figured out the neural pathway that makes it happen.  I thought this is really cool so I went to Stanford’s website to find out more.

The university’s press release invites you to….

“Try it. Breathe slowly and smoothly. A pervasive sense of calm descends. Now breathe rapidly and frenetically. Tension mounts. Why?

“It’s a question that has never been answered by science, until now.

“In a new study, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and their colleagues have identified a handful of nerve cells in the brainstem that connect breathing to states of mind.”

What’s what’s not to like about this?

When science supports common sense, isn’t it a good thing? Seems to me that when data affirms what experience already understands it moves the needle in favor of deliberative study.

What made me uneasy, though, is learning how the researchers made this discovery. According to Stanford, the researchers “bioengineered mice in which they could wipe out, at will, the neurons” they were studying.

I’m bothered by at least three things about this:

(1) That they “bioengineered” the animals they

would use in this study,

(2) In order to “wipe out, at will” the components they’d engineered in the first place, and

(3) The evident pride Stanford and the researchers express in the discoveries that came from those actions.

I’ve never been an animal rights activist – but I was really disappointed they created suffering.

When I was in college my friend Randy and I would have long discussions about whether the ends justify the means.

Does the activity involved in the research, which meant bioengineering animals, and then “eliminating” specific neurons, a surgical procedure.

To identify a direct line between nerves in the brains of the mice they studied that regulate breathing with nerves in the brains that regulate arousal. This “breathing pacemaker” effect shows that slower, deeper breathing leads to calmer mice.

For the longest time, medical science denied that babies feel pain.  Common sense would tell you that of course, they feel pain.  Here’s a study that proved it using human subjects (sleeping babies).


We could argue whether this study is out of line by causing some discomfort in sleeping babies – but you can bet these researchers had to follow a set of protocols before doing anything – and get permission of the parents.

Yes, it helps to demonstrate that our logical layers can learn what our creative layers already know.  I just find myself wondering about those mice and what it says about us.  Their brains were tampered, and they were subjected to procedures just with so humans could affirm something that common sense already knows.

Do you need scientific research to tell you that attending to the rhythm and pace of your breathing is a way to soften your anxiety?

I don’t think so!

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