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The Breath unites the Inner and Outer Realm
as the invisible energy of Spirit and Mind.

Control of the breath greatly aids clarity of mind. Creativity is a product of a clear unobstructed mind. Creative problem solving is best accomplished when the mind is open to all possible solutions. There are many ways to achieve mental clarity. One effective way to achieve a creative solution quickly is controlled breathing. Below I will give three techniques that condition the brain, relax the mind and facilitate access to deeper intuitive, inspired layers of mind.

Creative Breath

Before we learn new techniques, it would be helpful to understand just what the breath is. The breath is more than "just the air" we breathe. It is truly the breath of life, the vital energy of spirit. We can live without food for up to 30 days, without water for several days, but we cannot live without oxygen for more than a few minutes. After 20 minutes, without sufficient oxygen the brain dies.

The brain responds to incoming stimuli according to its level of alertness. When we need a creative solution to a problem, we need as much inspiration as we can acquire. The word inspire is based on the roots "in" and "spire" or literally, to breathe in. To be inspired is to be full of the breath of life. Yogic disciplines teach that the air we breathe is full of "prana" or the spirit of life. The Chinese call this energy "chi". Thus to be inspired is to be filled with spirit.

From a scientific standpoint levels of oxygen in the brain are tied to levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is the hormone that allows us to be awake and alert. You can regulate your levels of brain serotonin by controlling your breath. Too much serotonin in the brain causes irritation, tension, and stress. Dropping the levels of serotonin can result in greater relaxation and allow the brain's intuitive, nonlinear activities to flow more smoothly.

It has also been clinically proven that holding your breath has beneficial side effects. This raises the level of carbon dioxide in the body and brain. It also increases the level of nitrogen. For short periods of time, this can be very refreshing to the brain. Carbon dioxide has many beneficial effects on the body. As with anything, there needs to be a proper balance. It has been found that increasing the carbon dioxide levels not only improves clear thought but also aids those who suffer from asthma.


The electrical quality of the air you breathe also has an effect on serotonin levels and thus creative alertness. The number of positive or negative ions present measures electric air quality. Negative ions are displaced electrons, which attach themselves to nearby molecules. These molecules become negatively charged. It is the negative ion of oxygen that affects us most.

If you have ever stood by a waterfall or in a deep forest full of evergreens and felt exhilarated, you have felt the effects of negatively ionized air. The normal ion count in fresh country air is 2,000 - 4,000 negative ions per cubic centimeter. At Yosemite Falls, you'll experience over 100,000 negative ions per cubic centimeter. On the other hand, on a Los Angeles freeway the negative ion count is below 100 per cubic centimeter.

Increasing the negative ion content of the brain promotes alpha brain waves and increases brain wave amplitude. This produces a different kind of awareness than that of heightened serotonin alertness. Ion induced alpha waves spread from the occipital areas to the parietal and temporal, reaching the front lobes, spreading evenly across the right and left brain hemispheres. This creates an overall clear and calming effect, thus, promoting better concentration.

When you need to produce a more heightened state of awareness for immediate problem solving you can simply control your breathing. This facilitates your brain's ability to concentrate properly. Here are three methods for increasing brain hormonal and hemispherical balance.

  • One method is slow deep breathing, holding the breath momentarily between breaths. Holding the breath oxygenates the brain and facilitates clarity, as well as raises carbon dioxide levels. Deep breathing promotes alpha brain waves and relaxes the body and mind.
  • Another method is to breathe through alternating nostrils. The Chinese believe that the nostrils are an indication of hemispherical dominance. Whichever nostril you habitually breathe through can tell you which side of the brain you favor. One way to open the alternate side of the brain, to facilitate cross-hemispherical or whole brain thinking, is to breathe through the other nostril until it is opened. You can also hold one nostril closed, breath in, hold the breath for five seconds, and breath out through the other nostril. If you practice this for about ten minutes you will markedly improve your mental clarity. You will also slow down your brain waves, from beta to alpha, thus facilitating intuitive, inspired thought.
  • The third and most radical, but highly effective method of creative problem solving is to relax and hold the breath for as long as you can. The great Japanese inventor Yoshiro Nakamats, Ph.D. attributes much of his phenomenal creativity to underwater swimming. He is credited with more patents than Thomas Edison. He swims to deeper parts of a swimming pool where he sits and contemplates underwater. He has a special metal pad and pen so he can make notes. You don’t need to go underwater to simply hold your breath for as long as you can. This helps to alter the carbon/oxygen balance in the brain and bring greater clarity to the mind.

This site was created to promote creative problem solving and enhance overall creativity. We feel these techniques are quite valuable to promoting this end. Coupled with the Pregnant Pause technique you can solve most problems you encounter quickly. Since these techniques are cumulative, your ability to synchronize your brain, detach yourself from the problem, and see the clearest, most elegant solution will be as natural as breathing. Learn controlled breathing and the next problem you have will "evaporate" in its wake.

© J.L. Read, 1997. All Rights Reserved.
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This site is dedicated in loving memory
to its creator, Janet L. Read
1949 — 2000


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