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Resilience Breathing

Life isnt measured by the amount of breaths we take, but the number of moments which take our breath away. ~ anon

Rapidly Recover from Excessive Stress Optimize Health, Energy and Fitness

World Martial Arts Champion, Master of Sport, USA National Team Coach, Health and F i t n e s s Consultant for F e d e r a l Government Agencies.

Scott Sonnon

Master of Sport SCOTT SONNON Chief Operations Officer RMAX International WORLD CHAMPION NATIO NAL COACH

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Scott was Born to Lose. And Built to Win. Against all odds, Scott became a champion, and has shared the discoveries he made along the way.
Scott Sonnon is most known for being a martial arts champion in Sport Jiujitsu, Submission Grappling, Amateur Mixed Martial Arts, Russian Sambo and Chinese Sanshou. Sonnon capitalized upon advances in biomechanics, stress physiology, athletic biochemistry and sports/combat psychology to become a multiple time USA National Team Coach. Sonnon trained for six years with the former USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and Special Operations Unit (Spetsnaz) Physical Conditioning and Performance Enhancement Specialists at the RETAL (Physical Skill Consultant Scientic & Practical Training) Center, and became the rst American to be licensed by the Russian government in these studies. He is also one of a handful of individuals outside the former USSR to earn the coveted Master of Sport the highest athletic distinction recognized in the former Soviet Union. Sonnons peak performance enhancement methods are on the scientic cutting-edge, proving themselves again and again where it counts: in the real world, on and off the eld of athletics. He now consults for prestigious agencies such as the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, US Marshals Service Training Academy, US Federal Law Enforcement Training Center FLETC, State and Local Law Enforcement Symposium SLLETS, US Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment SOAR, US Customs and Border Protection Advanced Training Center, Israeli Defense Force LOTAR Counter-Terrorism School, the Wingate Institute, the Italian Gruppo Intervento Speciale GIS Special Forces, Italian 1st Regiment Carabinieri "Tuscania"

"Life is not measured by the amount of breaths we take in our life, but the number of moments in life which take our breath away." Nothing "inspires" us more signicantly than our breath. Inspiration. To breathe in. From the root, spiritus: spirit. Nothing exemplies our quality of life than the quality of our breath. Every ancient discipline has concentrated upon breath. Yet only in recent decades has modern science begun to comprehend the magnitude with which breath affects us, and how life affects our breath. Breath control remains the most rigorous and esoteric practice in human history: disciplined preparation to enhance your quality of life and, as evidenced by powerfully compelling modern research, even your quantity of life. "If you're breathing, you're alive. And if you're breathing hard, you're LIVING!" Those cherished breathless moments throughout our very short existence dene us. We recollect them with loving nostalgia in times of peaceful reverie, and with clutching comfort in calamitous times of imminent jeopardy. But what does it mean for a moment to take our breath away? What happens, and why? Many theories, and a species-wide chronicle of exploration, have offered libraries of ideas. Let us discuss just one: when a dire moment steals our breath away, how do we rapidly recover from it, to reclaim it, to seize it back from the vacuum which has sucked it from us? Breath is our nal addiction in life. Our spirited lives, like no other time in history, swim in an ocean of stressors, anxieties and fears. When overwhelmed by circumstances, we asphyxiate from the seeminglynecessary evil of excessive stress. If you're going to walk the line of adventure and growth, if you will not shirk from the challenges which life presents, then stress becomes the currency of our growth. Stress adapts us, and as Charles Darwin illuminated, "it is not the strongest which survives, nor even the most intelligent, but the most adaptable, which survives," and thrives as cutting edge neuroscience has revealed. Those moments which leave us blissfully at a loss of breath, erupted from what psychologists label as eustress: positive stress which fosters adaptive growth. We develop from eustress; and we can say that we live for it: those are the moments which take away our breath... in a positive way. But another more common perspective of stress pervades... the negative. The founder of the concept of psychological stress, Hans Seyle, on his deathbed described one of his greatest lamentations involved the miscomprehension of stress. He said that he had wished that he had used the word strain to distinguish it from positive stress (eustress.) Strain (excessive levels of stress to which we cannot adapt) oods over us like a tsunami. Our breath drowns in its turgid rapids. Psychologists offer the distinction of the negativity of strain by the term distress.


Distress steals our breath, imprisoning it in a high pressure chamber, with volcanic repercussions. The Paleolithic aspect of nervous system perceives distress as mortal threat, and mobilizes for ght or ight; and if nothing can discharge this potential, it freezes us paralyzed from overload. This one aspect of your nervous system (the Sympathetic) cannot differentiate between a true lethal threat, such as saber toothed tiger chasing you across the prehistoric tundra, and an emotional / symbolic threat, like a belligerent coworker, a terrible two year old tantrum, or the dread of a drained bank account and a lost job. Your nervous system evolved to help you with today's survival, with no consideration of the total length of your life, nor the quality of you living it. And so it steals away our breath, sending us into the pressure of rage or into vacuous panic. Our breath holds near-magical properties in that both branches of your nervous system plug into it: you breathe automatically (thank God), but you can also volunteer how you're breathing. Furthermore, how we choose to upload our breath program to our nervous system server inuences your entire operating system: so, if you need to get excited, vitalized and aroused for action, you can breathe one way; and if you need to calm down, think clearly and act with precision, then you can breathe another way. As a yoga teacher for over a decade, I've explored the relaxation methods of breath control, and their oceans run deep and wide. These proactive measures improve quality and quantity of life. But we also require counter-active methods for facing distress, recovering from it, and developing a tough resistance to it. We must certainly heal our trauma, but we must also have the courage to face those hardships. We must learn how to retreat to a sacred place and convalesce, and sometimes we must stand rm within a hurricane of high speed moments of distress, and deal. When we can't retreat, what then do we do? How do we stand clearly, calmly, in the face of a crisis and respond with higher consciousness, rather than falling into panic, anxiety, rage, frustration, doubt or hesitation? The breathing techniques for stress-free relaxation differ from the methods to rapidly recover from distress while needing to face and resolve it. If you've ever been in a ght for your life, you may be able to repeat your prayer or mantra in your head, but rarely through your lips. You're just too breathing hard. Strain erodes the depth and pace of our breath, which exacerbates the already critical situation. When in a distressing crisis, we can recover our mind and our emotions through counter active breathing techniques. We need this sangfroid recovery more than we know. If we look at how we are dying today compared to a century ago, our number one killer across the planet isn't a bullet or a bomb, not a virus or a bacteria, but stress-related heart disease. Distress does worse than corrodes our mind, it cannibalizes our body, and literally breaks our heart.


The impact upon our health may not be catastrophic for some time, but its daily toll upon us cannot be denied. Emotional stress can feel so overpowering. Early childhood violence and a family of post traumatic stress perpetuated a cycle of emotional abuse and anxiety, for which many of us seek out therapies. Some of us gravitate to the martial arts for a physical catharsis to counter-act the ravages distress wreaks upon us. As an emotional and mental discipline, the martial arts give us the incremental opportunity to immerse ourselves in threatening scenarios, and as a result cultivate methods of resilience to distress. Over twenty years of competitive ghting for my country's national team, as the USA Coach, I applied my observations to assess the effectiveness of these methods in preparing my athletes to bounce back from falling prey to excessively high stress. My research as a national coach took me to Russia where breath training had been rened to a science by Dr. Nikolay Buteyko and Dr. Vladimir Frolov. However, US research has been successfully organized by LTC David Grossman, featured in his books On Combat and Warrior Mindset where this esteemed former West Point psychology professor ironically cited me as a source, though I had been using his research as MY source. (See his free iPhone app called: Tactical Breathing.) In the mid 1990s, I began assisting the senior psychologist at a neurobehavioral clinic in movement therapy for brain damaged and mentally ill children. Taking our early successes with the children to research upon university students, we discovered that the movements I performed, embedded with specic breathing techniques, entrained the subjects to perform better under stress. Rening our study we extracted the breathing techniques from the movements, and pinpointed their effectiveness. The doctor went on to publish a study in the Journal of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback proving the validity of the approach. You can counter act distress, and recover back to eustress. This is the denition of resilience: to recover rapidly from strain. And breath, like no other mechanism in the human existence, provides us with the password to that encrypted server. Having survived the pressure cooker due to some incredibly talented coaches and teachers around the world, and be given such incredible quality of life through their education, I'd like to "pay it forward" to those of you who didn't have the time and opportunities with which I had been blessed. (Granted, some of those more violent experiences didn't seem like blessings to me at the time!) Resilience Breathing involves the researched techniques I've rened over the years as a national team coach for several different sports, and as a consultant to those who statistically suffer the hardships of distress with an average mortality of age 54: reghters, police and soldiers. Using these techniques, and others, in federal and municipal academies, I've reduced training related injuries to zero, which for them had never before happened in their academy histories. These techniques also apply to our health, as we face the same specter as tactical responders and martial artists: distress is our number one killer. Proactively, we can address it through ancient disciplines such as yoga, susm, and bagua. But we can also counteract distress in the moment they happen to us, with other techniques.


We can recover from distress to the point that it can once again transform us as eustress. We can become stronger, better human beings from stress... if we are able to increase our resilience. The 5 sequence technique of Resilience Breathing cannot be described as a singular technique, as it involves a series of techniques strung together to produce a synergistic effect. They address the challenge of reclaiming breath from involuntary reex back to voluntary control while counter-acting the reexive breathing elicited by distressing circumstances. 1. The rst technique teaches you how to transfer from being out of breath, "gassed" and hyperventilating, to reclaiming control of the speed of the breath to stop hyperventilation from exacerbating your nervous system eliciting reexes. When out of breath, perform a controlled inhalation through the nose while closing the mouth. This slows down the rapid breathing. 2. The second technique teach you how to lengthen the inhalation so that you reclaim depth of tidal volume: how much total capacity of the lungs you utilize. Lengthen the inhalation by expanding the belly while still inhaling through the nose. 3. The third technique then takes the reclaimed control of the inhalation, and shifts the focus to the exhalation, so that you can begin to calm the nervous system's alarm. Perform several short, sharp exhales through the mouth after the nasal inhalation. 4. The fourth technique shuts off the alarm by enabling the "tend and mend" response to counteract the ght or ght reex. Perform a long, slow deep oral exhale by pulling the belly toward the spine (and still perform the nasal inhale, but just by relaxing the muscles of the exhale.) 5. The fth technique reboots the entire nervous system so that all corners of the four aspects of breath receive their due diligence, and you've restored awareness and adaptive potential to the stress you can now process. Perform another oral exhale long and slow exhale for four count, pause at the end of the exhale for four, release the muscles to perform a nasal inhale for four, and pause for four without bracing and creating pressure in your chest or head. Repeat. These ve techniques combined produce a synergistic effect far more powerful than any single one of them. They culminate in shutting down our primitive reexive breathing, and by restoring conscious breathing. You may not need to start at #1, but where you start, progress in sequence forward 1-5 for optimal effect. Resiliency will aid in the prevention of stress related illness, and, as a result, contribute to the prevention of an early demise. But it will also improve our quality of life. There are not magic pills. These methods don't stop you from experiencing breathless moments, and if we are truly LIVING, then why would we want to? But they will help us quickly bounce back from the negativity of distress while it is happening, rather than waiting until it has already begun to destroy us bodily, mentally and emotionally. Even then it's not too late, as there are many effective therapies to assist us. However, with resiliency we also don't need to wait until it has already taken hold of us. We can halt the advance of distress in the moment and return to the state where stress creates positive growth and improves quality of life. It's taken me a lifetime to acquire, comprehend and rene these techniques into an observable, repeatable method to counteract distress while it is happening. I hope you'll accept this in the spirit in which I've given it: a deep sense of service to pay it forward so that others can prevent the turmoil that I underwent to develop it.

Near the close of the 19th Century, Russian Physiologist Verigo and Dutch Scientist Bohr independently discovered that without CO2, oxygen remains bound to hemoglobin, unreleased and incapable of being utilized by our tissues.As a result there is an oxygen deciency in tissues such as our brain, kidneys and heart, as well as a signicant increase in our blood pressure. Russian and former Soviet research, such as Dr. V. Frolov, Dr. K. Buteyko and Prof. R. Strelkov surmised that deep breathing serves as the root cause of many illnesses. Deep-breathers suffer from O2 starvation and so they over-breathe which begins the cycle called the Hyperventilation Feedback Loop. Notice how a person holding his breath becomes increasingly hyperactive. Over time the level of CO2 increases dramatically causing the rapid consumption of O2. This hyperactivity continues until unconsciousness (syncope). We use this method in martial arts to expedite chokes and strangles: the more he struggles, exerts himself and overbreathes, the faster he goes unconscious. The cause of O2 deciency is not due to the lack of O2 presence, but by the lack of CO2 retention. Over-breathing causes O2 deciency.If we inhale too much, we have less O2 in our body. Two methods of breathing developed from this understanding: hypoxic (lowered oxygen count) and hypercapnic (carbonic gas saturation) breathing. Dr. Vladimir Frolov (Endogenous Respiration) concluded from his research that both methods intend the same goal but achieve it through different means: Buteyko achieved positive results raising the concentration of carbonic gas in the lungs. Strelkov, in turn, obtained the identical result by lowering the oxygen content in the lungs. The paradox solves itself if we compare oxygen concentrations in both methods. It turned out that what united them was an approximately identical hypoxia regime (lower oxygen content) from two different methods. For many strength athletes, the conventional method of breathing entails the Power Breathing Technique - a hypoxic method was researched by a Russian scientist Professor R. Strelkov (popularized by Pavel Tsatsouline in the West). Power increases immediately, but due to the elicitation of SAPS, ne and complex motor skills deteriorate. This force level breath is temporarily acceptable for powerlifting competition but highly inefcient for athletic, combative and life skills. The problem with inhalation bracing lies with the pneumatic pressure it creates intra-abdominally. When you inhale and pressurize yourself, you literally attempt to move over an inated balloon within your torso. When moving in 1 or 2 dimensions and short range, that may be acceptable. However, when you must resist rotation in six degrees, you must use muscular control, not pneumatic pressure to withstand forces while remaining mobile. Inhalation cannot do this, and like twisting a balloon, will eventually rupture. Only exhalation can, creating space, and muscular activation can resist rotation, and ward.


In Russia, two respiratory scientists signicantly impacted my training: Dr. Nikolay Buteyko (Buteyko Method for Asthma) and Dr. Vladimir Frolov (Frolov Breathing Apparatus for Sports Performance). They both introduced the concept that our pattern of breathing impacted our emotional state, our mental aptitude and our physical structure. In a book a decade ago, Body-Flow Freedom from FearReactivity, I discussed the impact of emotional state upon performance. In an upcoming book, Primal Stress, I introduce the postural and structural changes which erupt from excessive stress, and coordinate with respiratory changes. Breathing branches to both aspects of the nervous system: voluntary and autonomic. The autonomic controls stress arousal like a team of sled-dogs: if you make breath the lead, alpha dog, you will be able to strongly inuence performance. Inhalation bracing increases heart rate and blood pressure. Exhalation and the control pause (at the end of the exhale before the inhale) decreases heart rate and blood pressure. When excessive stress takes over, a change in breath takes over: we inhale, hold our breath and brace for impact, and you can hear the suffering in our respiration; or we inhale, and pressurize a release of tightly compact air, forcing out our frustration or anger. These changes in breath reexively freeze, ee or ght, but only if were untrained. If we do indeed train to have sufcient skills for the task, in order to have access to those skills, we need to use a breathing methodology which can recover back from excessive stress. Though I began university research into these breathing techniques and biofeedback in the 1990s, trials on my technique released only a few years ago (See study by the doctor I trained, Robert Stein, right).


relates to an inhalation and breath bracing the held inhale; a reexive collapse demonstrated by prey. relates to an inhalation and a pressurized exhalation during reexive movement, indicative of predatory readiness. relates to a conscious exhalation on effort during a movement with a passive inhalation happening from releasing the power of the muscular squeeze to exhale. happens as the body shifts to exhalation on passive compression, so as the body moves it becomes breathed by the accordion like action of gracefully expressed movement; and performance is performed during and after the exhalation, at the control pause before inhalation begins.



Rapid Reduction in Heart Rate Using Hard Exhalation Diaphragmatic Breathing: Implications for Performance Management. Journal: Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback Issue: Volume 25, Number 4 / December, 2000 Pages 247-271 ROBERT M. STEIN ISSN: 1090-0586 (Print) 1573-3270 (Online) DOI 10.1023/A:1026411022674 Abstract: Diaphragmatic breathing or "belly breathing" is preferable to costal or chest breathing, in producing objective and subjective measures of relaxation. Practicing diaphragmatic breathing is not too difcult when already relaxed, but can be a challenge when one is in a high-pressure situation. High-pressure or "performance demand" situations present themselves with little opportunity to remove oneself for breathing practice. The current strategy emphasizes bodily movement and orally mediated hard exhalation to facilitate a rapid transition from costal to diaphragmatic breathing. Bodily movements include rotation of the shoulders, movement of the hips, bending at the knees and expansion/contraction of the torso. Oral movements include progressively more intense expulsion of air. Training involves increases in intensity, duration and speed over time. Data will be presented that demonstrate short-term reduction in heart rate that is associated with the transition from ordinary resting breathing to a more specic diaphragmatic breathing pattern.


This is an effective breathing exercise for daily life, but in exercise, under stress of physical exertion, you need two very important breathing approaches, which must be trained during physical conditioning: When you rapidly approach or exceed heart rate maximum, you become winded or gassed breathing heavily to recover from the incurred aerobic debt you owe. This mechanism is an evolutionarily survivable reex designed to oxygenate your bloodstream. However, it only is useful for gross motor activities. Fine and complex motor skills, and cognitive discretion, require that you recover back from this reexive breathing, and avoid hyper-ventilation (which itself can elicit greater anxiety if left unchecked.) It would be preferable to go directly to the the second technique (Survival breath), but you cannot tell a person who is out of breath to exhale. Theyre inhaling rapidly, and shallowly. Theyre repeatedly shrugging their shoulders to their ears to create active mechanical expansion of the top third of their lungs. The lungs are inoperable, just sponges, so by shrugging the shoulders to the ears, youre creating additional room for lung expansion. This is a helpful reex if youre pressurizing and bracing for impact to your organs, but it leaves the bottom 2/3 of the lungs underutilized, and keeps your heart rate elevated beyond your usable technique below heart rate maximum (sub-HRmax) range. Exhaling (the only way to recover back to sub-HRmax where usable technique can be found) is problematic at that point. So, we must rst begin by reclaiming the inhale from the reex to volitional control. The recovery breath technique therefore begins with closing the mouth again the hyperventilation gulps and slowing the inhalation through the much smaller nasal passage. It normally only takes 1-2 nasal inhales to switch off the reex, and regain control of the inhalation. As soon as we reclaim the inhale, we should perform 2-3 short, sharp exhales from deep in the diaphragm, as if someone were about to hit us in the belly. Tightening the abdominal muscles in order to squeeze out the exhale, compacting the organs protectively downward, expanding the diaphragmatic dome so that the lungs can expand downward. Then, as soon as we reclaim control of the exhale, through these short, sharp explosive exhalations, its time to switch to #2. However, sometimes, we dont have the opportunity for #2, such as in an actual combative encounter, in which case #1 is still far more effective than relying purely upon our reexive fear and force bracing.


Once we can perform several short, sharp exhales, we can perform one long, slow, deep exhale from the belly. Exhalation decreases heart rate. And the controlled pause at the end of the exhalation before the cycle of inhalation begins, holds the fastest heart rate decreases possible. So, one long, slow, deep exhale from the belly, and then control and lengthen the pause before the inhalation begins. The more that you practice this technique - the longer that the control pause extends. It holds optimal performance and precision, which is why in any of the combative arts, from hand to hand ghting, to archery and marksmanship, we exhale sharply (sometimes with a loud shout in martial arts to unhinge the survival reex, and startle our aggressors), and then at the end of the exhale we deliver impact, for our body is most quiet, rooted, and aware to absorb and deliver force. We also seek to do this in between heart beats, but this comes at much higher levels of training. Research has shown that expert marksman trigger squeeze asystole: the point in a heart beat cycle where the heart actually rests (doesnt beat) and therefore the body is most still. (Landers, D. & Daniels, F.. Psychophysiological assessment and biofeedback: Applications for athletes in closed skill sports.) Timing asystole with the trigger squeeze improves shooting accuracy and as a result has been very successful with Olympic Athletes including those in shooting sports. (Suinn, R. Imagery rehearsal applications to performance enhancement. TheBehavior Therapist.) Now on to the depth of the breath. The depth of your exhalation directly correlates to the strength that you can activate throughout your body. There are four volumes to your exhale:
NORMAL what you exhale when talking. What is not challenging to you can be performed with a normal exhale. what you exhale when you move moderately. What is moderately challenging to you can be performed with a this level exhale. what you exhale when you move intensely. What is very challenging to you can be performed with this level exhale. what you cannot fully exhale while alive, but where all high performance oats. What is extremely challenging to you can only be performed at the end of exhaling all the rst three volumes. This point is called the Control Pause.




As just described, the science behind respiratory performance goes very deep. We concentrate on unhinging the Fear breathing (inhale bracing), reclaiming our skills from brute gross motor Force breathing (pressurized exhalation), and discipline our Recovery breathing (controlled inhale and short sharp exhale with effort), so that we can revive our Survival breathing and restore ow (one long, slow, deep exhale with compression)... eventually, thriving with mastery level breath of the control pause.

The stronger your exhale, the more powerful you become. Martial artists have known this for millennia. Modern respiratory science (Olympic level training) understand this mechanism, as it mysteriously branches into both aspects of the nervous system: the autonomic (what you cannot control), and the voluntary (what you can control.) The depth of your exhale determines how deeply you access your chamber of power. Physiologically, it is impossible to tap into the power of the core and spine without exhalation. It will not happen immediately. You will need practice daily. As it remains impossible to plumb the bottom of residual breath volume, you can always go deeper and deeper, no matter your age.



Optimal method of health and performance lies with the exhalation. The deeper the exhalation, the stronger the core activation, and the more utilization of oxygen at a cellular level. Training happens at the level of discipline: when you must actively exhale through the effort of an exercise. When you nd that youre no longer needing to actively exhale to press through an exercise, and youre in ow: youve adapted to the tempo or complexity of the movement, and its time to progress. However, if you nd that youre having to inhale and hold your breath in order to force out a repetition, then the tempo or complexity is too much (for that day or session): its time for you to regress down to a lower level complexity, or decrease the tempo until you can regain discipline over your breath. And if you nd that youre reexively inhaling and bracing against any effort, then youve signicantly crossed into excessive stress. Stop the activity immediately, and re-evaluate, and if youre in imminent jeopardy, then youll either reexively move to force with SAPS, or use the recovery breathing techniques described later to return to usable technique. But you should stop, if at all possible. Exercise over Maximum Heart Rate (HRmax), and the CNS shanghais your performance by dumping a cascade of chemicals into your bloodstream, making any training unadaptable (completely wasted effort, energy, and time) and deteriorating performance into SAPS: dramatically due the surge of epinephrine (vasoconstriction causing blood ow to be rerouted choosing gross over ne motor skills, tunnel vision, tachipsychia, auditory exclusion, etc.) This is ne if you have no skills (as it is a biological default survival reex to give you the extra boost to remove yourself from a potentially hazardous encounter) but its unnecessary and counter-productive for performance requiring high levels of critical thought and ne and complex skills to apply. Consider these contrasting results of how fast you can recover your heart rate in one minute after intense exertion: A drop of 20-40 heart beats in 60 seconds is typical of the average, well-conditioned ghter. Whereas a drop of only 10-12 beats indicates potential heart disease. Notice how shallow that margin is. However, with proper breathing techniques, we have achieved recovery heart rates of 60 beats in 30 seconds (potentially six times faster than the average ghter.) Ive achieved in my athletes as fast as an increase of 20 beats drop in 2 sessions, though greater results require longer practice. One of the most common breathing techniques for calming yourself down is 4 Count Breathing. Four Count breathing requires you to consciously regulate the amount of airow your body is receiving over four second intervals. While it can be a difcult technique to master under extreme stress, the principle of the breathing is simple. Breathing is as follows: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Slowly inhale a deep breath over 4 seconds. Hold the breath in for 4 seconds. Slowly exhale the breath out over 4 seconds. Hold the empty breath for 4 seconds. Repeat until your breathing is under control.

Use Four Count Breathing when you need to quickly get control of your breathing. It will take focus and control to maintain this rhythm. This technique may need to be used to silence any heavy and labored breathing that you may have developed from a long run carrying lots of gear. You may discover urgency nearby and do not want to announce your presence or give away your position with the sounds of labored breathing. Tactical Breathing will also help alleviate the affects adrenaline and stress.



Many cognitive psychological approaches x upon the programming of mental messages. However, positive afrmation without physical action remains merely a wish, and not yet an actual supportive attitude. Condence comes from repeating a behavior and observing the success. But you need courage to start before you have any condence, and to persevere when a behavior doesn't supply immediately obvious success. You will nd it effective to bombard yourself with positive messages, especially when you prepare for an event, meeting, challenge or competition. However, rapid and complete transformation to a new attitude comes when we bind the intended thought with a physical action, which coaching psychologists call an anchor. Your physical anchor can be a ritual, like lacing your shoes before you begin (which was my anchor before I would practice and ght in martial arts competitions), but these preparatory anchors don't deliberately increase condence. They concentrate your intention, and focus your will; which is necessary, but there are also other powerful methods of preparation. The most effective daily practice of embedding a positive message to physical success involves physical exercise: breathing being the most critical ingredient in exercise. Sync your breath within the movement. Don't allow yourself to labor your breath outside the technique of the exercise. The more integrated the breath to the mechanics of the movement, the more effective a transformative vehicle each repetition becomes. Inhale excitement. Exhale precision. Inhale readiness. Exhale clarity. Inhale alertness. Exhale focus. Each of these two primary aspects of breathing hold diametrically opposite benets. First, you sync the breath to the mechanics, then you can anchor the message to the exercise. But unless you're in seated meditation focusing on your breath, begin with focus on synchronizing the breath to the movement mechanics of your exercise. Make this your meditation before you concentrate on layering in a positive message. If you begin with the positive message anchored to the breath before you have effectively synced breath to the movement, it can still work. However, it takes a lot longer. Furthermore, to build the condence when you practice, embed the message to the appropriate energy. Dont switch intentions. Avoid trying to bind calmness on the inhale, or excitement on the exhale. And this jumbling of intentions with the wrong aspect of the nervous system can happen when you dont rst have your breath bound efciently to the mechanics of the exercise movement. You will nd many people will prefer seated meditation on breath and attitude anchoring because they do not need to practice binding breath to very much movement (being seated.) However, to hold that new attitude, you will nd it much more empowering and expedient to implement these attitudinal changes in your physical exercise. Since the aspect of the breath corresponds to a branch of the nervous system (sympathetic-arousal, parasympatheticrecovery), bind the breath to the mechanics rst (inhale to prepare or expand, exhale to exert or compress). Then, interweave the appropriate type of message to pair with the relevant aspect of the breath. It takes courage to consciously alter your attitude, and persistence, but coaching psychology has given us the above tools to avoid unnecessarily lengthening the process of successfully rewriting more powerful positive mindsets. Now, lets discuss the ner points of the body-mind intersection.


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As you push the boundaries of your prior threshold of performance, you will need courage, and develop condence. Dont worry if you dont begin with the condence that you will succeed. The condence comes after youve had the courage to begin, to continue and to elect to face the next greater challenge. Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you cant practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage. ~Maya Angelou Although many virtues exist above courage in my value hierarchy, courage remains the catalyst for all change. To modify any behavior or situation, it demands that you courageously adopt and repeat an uncomfortable shift in a pattern. To be more compassionate, more patient, more righteous, more tenacious, more loyal, more calm, more trusting, more meticulous, they all demand greater courage. Ive crumbled under the weight of many changes in my life, but only bravery helped me crawl out of the bottom of the rubble, back to the light of day. When a problem or circumstance feels threatening, overwhelming, or even just frustratingly unmoving, be courageous and youll catalyze the change you need. I was asked how to develop the courage to face uncomfortable situations. Life comforts the disciplined and disciplines the uncomfortable, so make yourself uncomfortable every day with small, consistent discipline in your training. Practice courage in your exercise and nutrition: small, consistent acts of courage to perform another repetition with good form, and the bravery to make the next choice in healthier nutrition, and the next with greater discipline. Then, you have built the strength to make the choice in thoughts: the courage to remain positive, to resist negative, and ultimately the courage to switch from negative to positive thoughts. Facing uncomfortable situations will be empowered by that daily practice. As my teacher from India once counseled me, Be courageous, but calm. Simpler, clearer wisdom could not be uttered. Life can feel like an asylum run amok, and certainly we will need to face, not ee and not freeze at its challenges. But if we are to unlock the opportunities lying within, we must exhale, settle down, and get grounded, if we have any real intention to act reasonably, sufciently and non-excessively. Condence derives from the Latin roots con and delis: meaning, the sense that the facts have proven outcomes. We experience actual condence like a factual certainty that our skills will produce a known, positive result. Feigning condence creates a disbelief in the nervous system that what you pretend is unreal, which in turn sabotages your efforts. Courage derives from the Latin cor: meaning the heart enabling the ability to face difculty. You can feel entirely uncertain of the outcome of your impending action, but still act courageously; a willful bravery to face a challenge with unpredictable results. The courage to face the unknown itself can empower you. Courage comes rst; condence after proof. When condence builds, you can face difculty on faith that the prior events will reproduce similar results. If the plan fails and your condence falters, or you face a new, larger or more intense challenge where you have little proof of expected outcomes, you require courage. Be brave. The condence will come.

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Trainers often scream, "GET TOUGH! Don't quit!" but what does that mean practically? HOW do you not quit? Where do you get toughness from? There will be a very specic dot on the line of your potential capability each day, whose science Ive detailed throughout this book. To one side of that dot exists all that you've currently done and prepared. To the other side, everything you've not yet dared, and believe yourself incapable. The dot demarcates your quitting point, because you believe that you aren't capable to exceed that current threshold, so you encounter it and submit. We lack condence (which derives from experiencing evidence), but we can keep and further develop courage (which involves our willingness to take action even without condence). But how can you develop courage to take one step over that critical threshold of prior performance with good technique, and bump your dot another notch along the line? The problem relates to misapplying toughness. Toughness doesnt require condence, because you dont need condence to resist quitting what you've already proven to yourself through repeated evidence. Toughness demands courage: the commitment to go into the unknown without any certainty of your success. Facing this, our most primal fear, and bravely acting regardless of that fear, represents our highest dening virtue as a species. But, again, if you're about to step into the unknown, how can you resist quitting at any point within that darkness? You have no point of reference, no gauge, no lifeline to return. So quitting is inevitable. You cannot, by denition of exceeding your prior threshold of potential, resist failure, as youre beyond the known boundaries of performance. You have exceeded your level of toughness whenever you step beyond your threshold of prior performance. So, when someone cries out for you to, be tough, they misuse the term. They're actually intending to say, "Keep Calm and Carry On." Keep Calm - Resilience. Carry On - Toughness. You cannot increase your toughness unless you develop greater resilience. Toughness is your ability to resist failure. Resilience is your ability to recover from failure when it happens. Failure, here, refers to the inability to continue and the inability to recover: a catatonic state of primal collapse, frozen in the tundra of excessive stress. I draw "failure" here from physiology: the inability to complete (a movement). At that moment of the nal repetition, where we may fail, where all of our attention is demanded in order to seize back form from chaos, where failure threatens, we can use resilience to hold technique. Every repetition before that one was only a prelude, a rehearsal until that nal apogee, the critical state where we could potentially fail if we didn't use awareness, but do, and recover, and hold. This is 100% of our adaptive potential. I export this physiological approach into the tactical and farther outward into lifestyle strategies. Our greatest growth requires that we seek that failure point. When you step across the point of your prior level of toughness, when you exceed your prior performance, when you step into the unknown with zero condence and pure courage that you refuse to quit. You will need resilience. Resilience tethers you back, like a lifeline, to your known parameters. And if you have resilience skills, when you outstrip your toughness, and begin to face the specters of failure, you have tools to recover back to the point where your condence exists, recollect your technique and form and attitude, and go again into your unexplored potential. If you want to get tougher, become more resilient.

The reservoir of courage draws from faith that we ARE resilient, that in failure we WILL adapt and ratchet our performance forward. Press beyond the threshold of condence, nd your edge, recover, grow, adapt, press forward again. I have found that my condence has shifted away from myself, to condence in this process. My attitude had shifted from striving for higher performance, but faster and better quality recovery. Better to have full access to current conditioning and cognitive performance under stress. ~ LTC Daniel Market, US Army


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Discipline is not an attitude, but rather it is a momentum. You can rarely, "Just do it," unless you've already built up the capacity. You're capable of doing anything within the inertia you've already generated. Like pushing a boulder over small bumps (challenges), you can overcome the size which your momentum allows. But a larger hill will rob your inertia and stop your boulder rolling if you do not add greater energy to it, in the proper amount, at the right time and at sufcient distance before the challenge. If you wait too long, too close, to try and build up more inertia, then the boulder will slow, stop and may even start to roll back on you. A logical error occurs when we look backwards on challenges we've overcome. We neglect to realize that it was not merely a choice to roll the boulder over the small bumps we encountered, but rather the inertia we had already generated long before. Even if we only had to add a little effort to it, it is the momentum which predominantly achieved the challenges. When we face a new challenge, we need to take a running start at it (see the programming wave and the reference the Revive-Survive-Thrive process.). We must surveil the terrain for the small preliminary bumps which siphon off our momentum, gauge the distance required to build up sufcient speed, estimate the additional requirements we must invest so that when we hit the base of the mountain, we're not surprised that our boulder slows and becomes a grinding effort. Discipline is only a choice within the bandwidth of prior preparation. When you nd people complaining that you should just suck it up and gut it out, try to remain patient with them, and keep compassionate of the surprise life is about to throw them. They are in far worse a situation than they know, for when they encounter a signicant challenge which their current inertia cannot easily overcome, the weight of that poor preparation will crush their willpower, catastrophize their thoughts, and pollute their self-perception into one of weakness and incompetency. The language they now use toward you and others will suddenly be turned on themselves, as we can be most sadistic when we self-critique. These impatient ones, pity them. Life is coming. It is far more dangerous to be overcondent and fail to prepare, than to accept your doubts and successfully prepare.


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We must make good choices, but we must also address the preparation that must be taken (incrementally, like in stress inoculation to avoid reinforcing reactive tendencies) to be capable of making those choices. Some think that once youve been in shape then its easier to stay in shape. If youve ever backslid, and worked with those who do, then you know that this idea would be logical from a psychological perspective, but not necessarily from a biochemical one. If youre distressed, eat poorly, dont hydrate, drink alcohol, ght with your spouse, scream at your kids, worry about your nances, breathe in mold, work with people infected by illness, and fear for your job, then the same decision costs more (of your depleting willpower), because its not merely training stress, but sum total stress which depletes decisionary strength. Some think you can simply decide to no longer be over-fat. The problem with that line of thought is it presumes a reservoir of energy. Many misunderstand and believe over-fat as caloric surplus; when its a toxic waste dump. So this attitude is also a slippery slope in erroneously believing that people can just stand up and start anything. There is an incremental process to releasing and generating energetic capacity, while out shipping toxic burden. Its difcult to understand for those who have never been obese and havent studied the actual implications of immolating the waste dump. You often need to go slowly and methodically to build up momentum. As an obese child who overcame sugar addiction, I can appreciate the science which has proven that sugar is a chronic toxin which holds comparable cellular addiction in the brain as cocaine, and yet is the worlds most socially acceptable drug abuse. (Researched by Endocrinologist Robert H. Lustig, MD, University of California San Francisco Professor of Pediatrics, presented on 60 Minutes episode Sugar: as Toxic as Cocaine.) I have observed that no one who has ever been obese and recovered from it believes that it was merely electing to no longer be obese and made all of the right decisions to suddenly end their obesity. The diminished capacity which obesity incurs requires a gradual avalanche of energy (willpower capacity building) activities; which in turn provides the increased capacity to resist chemical compulsions. It has been shown through many studies that the longer you go without sufcient, nutrient density, the poorer your decisionary process. Empty calories have been shown to add little to no increase in discretionary efcacy; especially when attached to addictive chemicals like sugar and caffeine. It often accounts for the snowball of why we make poorer and poorer choices over time in a downward spiral. How you begin building energy to resist the chemical compulsions of food addictions depends upon the individual. Each of us begin by making choices within the span of our capacity, which yield greater return in energy which increases our potential to make more draining choices. For example, many would not be able to begin intense exercise for nerve impingement for example, but beginning with seated joint mobility would decompress the joints, open nerve force and access the nutrition locked within the synovium and ground substance. If you feel impatient with others or yourself for not suddenly making a choice and POOF you always make good choices, then you may want to consider looking at the chemical root of that impatience. What we need when facing a food addiction, withdrawals and recovery is empowerment, not indictment. Blame, rationalization and entitlement are psychological symptoms of a chemical imbalance. These attitudes change during increments of behavioral modication. Dont attack the symptom. Smooth the process Yes, willpower certainly does exist As a chemical capacity in the brain, which must be built and easily drains when shifting behavioral patterns, especially against addictive substances.

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Much of my life had been spent getting knocked down. Perhaps more will come, but in recent years I have experienced a transformation. We need the courage to get up and take it on the jaw, get dropped to the mat, and get up yet again. This persistence remains critical. But my condence grows that the degree to which we must be knocked down softens as we become more malleable. Its easy to throw and sweep most beginners in grappling because of how rigid their tension xes their bodies in place, and for the same reason, its easy to knock down and out novice (or enraged) strikers. Over time, practice and experience, we learn to conuently absorb and blend to attacks to lessen their impact and to capture and Mission Brieng exploit their force to our (mutual) resolution. Reports


Like in athletics, yoga and meditation, martial art is a micro of the macro, with all of lifes lessons encoded in it. We must learn to get up, get knocked down, and get up again and again: we need resilience. Without this persistence, we will not have the opportunity to learn how to absorb, blend, and conuently resolve our challenges, and never unlock the opportunities within them. This lesson has been clearly reected in my relationships, my personal growth, my vocational development, my nances, and that of those I mentor. So my condence grows that though we must get up again and again, eventually we will learn how to ght less. Like in grappling, we begin by aggressive counter-attacking, but eventually begin to defend without struggling, and realize that every attack from our opponent creates an opportunity for nalizing the bout. When I was a child, I began martial art not to learn how to ght, as I was unfortunately intimately aware of violence. I began martial art so I could learn to STOP ghting. You cannot ee confrontation. You must have the courage turn and face it directly to most effectively resolve it. But my condence grows that in all things, although you may not be able to end the need for resistance, you can become sufciently pliable to absorb it with conuence. Like my teacher has told me personally, you may be in pain again, but you no longer need to suffer in the pain. I may again be knocked to the ground to learn the opportunity within a challenge , but the courage to stand again and again has given me the chance to gain condence that getting up is only the means, only part of a greater process. I no longer doubt that we CAN get up. We can. So, get up. But, lets not merely get up this time, but lets get through with grace. Getting through gracefully is the real black belt. As a result, we will no longer be required to relearn the hard lesson that we can get up. We will then discover that our opponents dont provide an obstacle to growth, for they are the challenge which allows us to adapt and grow. We can get up. Be condent of that. We will grow from every challenge. So condent of this, lets now learn how to get through gracefully, and transform these challenges into collective opportunities for something much greater. I grow more and more condent that we are specically placed into circumstances to steward a greater outcome, by not merely getting up, but getting through with grace.


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When I was diagnosed with learning disabilities, people told me Id never amount to anything academically or athletically. I wasted many years attempting to prove them wrong. Certainly, there were benecial byproducts of my prolic opposition to their imposed limitations, but my rebellious attitude only couched a hidden fear of my inadequacy. My entire life until the past few years could be summed by exceeding what others claimed I could not accomplish. I had become a hyperbole of hot buttons: when someone said I wasnt capable, thats damn well what I would do. But any hot button is itself a limitation. What more could I be without that reactionary force? What was I above my sensitivity to others feeling I was inadequate, for my overachievement tendencies were a silent fear that they may be right. I was not proving them wrong, but myself. I had the courage to attack imposed limitations, but not the condence that they were false. After decades of reactionary achievement, the evidence had proven that the limitations were illusions. So, with that condence, it was time to stop dening myself by overcoming what I was told I wasnt and start exploring what I could not yet imagine I was. Mission Brieng Reports


Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand. - Einstein Having the courage to overcome perceived limitations is the rst step, but it cannot be the nal for it is essentially an oppositional advance. To truly reframe your potential, you must avoid dening yourself as merely capable of what others say you arent. And move on to dening your potential by what you have not yet imagined you are. You are so much more than beyond the limits others perceive you to have. You are beyond what you can currently imagine.



If you found Resilience Breathing to be a useful set of techniques in assisting your rapid recovery from excessive stress, then very soon, we will be offering you advanced notication of the latest iteration of my work: Primal Stress. Resilience Breathing represents just a small fraction of the overall system which you will come to learn about in upcoming updates. Please check your spam and junk email folders to ensure that you dont miss out on our special launch offer. If you know anything about my company, we pack as much as humanly possible into our launch with limited time bonuses and deep discounts on the future retail price, because we value your ongoing loyalty and commitment to RMAX. Primal Stress represents the largest product Ive ever created, over 500 pages and over 50 videos, and weve own around the world to remote destinations to lm and produce this cinematically artistic, yet robustly practical package of information. It does represent my lifes work: how to we live healthy, high-performance, vibrant lives while thriving within the reality of stressful conditions? Fitness doesnt happen in a vacuum, and too often were given solutions which only serve ideal situations, when the circumstances we must face are often less than ideal. How do we thrive in suboptimal conditions? How do we recover from adversity, error, failure and obstacles? Primal Stress offers a compelling rationale for how we can exploit our genetic makeup to optimize our ability to overcome excessive stress, and actually become better, stronger, healthier from the stress we experience throughout our lives. I hope very much that you can take advantage of the special offer Im about to give you. Thanks so much for your trust in evaluating the quality of Resilience Breathing for your life, health and performance. Very Respectfully, Scott Sonnon