Stop. Take a breath. Thrive.


Is breathing the new competitive advantage?

By combining common breathing patterns with binaural frequencies, I hope to help the world turn down the unwanted volume of their lives. Here is what I have learned on my quest to create a new and fresh form mindfulness content.

It’s the first thing that people say whenever you have a traumatic experience. It’s the most important thing that we do every day. Breathing.

Yet it is one of the most overlooked movements in our body considering we do it over 20,000 times a day. The oxygen we breathe is the petrol to our brain, the less we have, the harder our bodies need to work.

Knowing how to breathe can help control our emotions and our fears. It enables a sharp mind. In extreme cases, it can help us challenge the elements. For anyone who doesn’t know who Iceman is, look him up. He’s incredible. More on Wim later.

As the son of a yoga teacher I was lucky enough to have someone show me how to control my breath. But yoga and breathing was too much — I found it hard to focus on the breath whilst in downward facing dog. I didn’t have the patience for yoga and it’s something I regret and that I am trying to fix in later life.

In the meantime, I started to work on own solution. Something different. Something fresh. Guiding me on how to breathe, and providing an experience at the same time. I listened to many guided meditations but something always put me off about the voice telling me what to do. Maybe this is why I struggled at school?

I set out to create something different. I studied sonic design at University. This training helped me find a connection between breathing and music. The patterns, the rhythms, the emotions that music could evoke. I felt there is a much easier way for me to following guided breathing. A way to help me reduce stress, fall to asleep faster and generally switch off and help me nap.

A new way to breathe. A 3-part formula to our new form of mindfulness content — Breathonics.

Part #1 — The Breathing Pattern

Building the elements.

The first part to this was the breathing patterns themselves. You only need to spend 10 minutes a Pranayama practitioner to know there are many ways to breathe. The formula I have always come back to, even as a child is a 1/4, 1/4, 1/2 technique that my mother had showed me early on. This is: 2 seconds in, 2 seconds hold and 4 seconds release. Used at different times but ultimately, your ‘out’ breath should be twice as long as your ‘in’ breath and hold. I found this technique most effective.

Another technique is the Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing.” This technique consists of equal counts in and equal counts on the release. Known in some circles as “Combat breathing.” A technique which the SAS and Navy Seals would deploy to help them relax or focus.

One thing became clear after experimenting with different breathing techniques. Different speeds of breath had different effects on different people.

If you are trying these techniques out, it’s important to mention that dizziness can occur. If you feel dizzy at any moment when following breathing guides, stop and relax.

When changing your breathing patterns, you will feel a reaction. That dizzy feeling is the rush of oxygen into the brain. Something that Wim Hof attributes to his fascinating ability to withstand immense cold. The Wim Hoff Method applied on a daily basis builds up your tolerance to cold and oxygen based exercise. Designed to push a higher level of oxygen into the body and help connect your nervous system. This, Wim believes, helps you reduce stress and improve your wellbeing. This stuff works.

When our bodies are under stress, a part of our brains called the Hypothalamus takes over. Triggering the reaction you may know as the ‘flight or fight’ response. A feeling that can compound into anxiety when experienced on a regular basis. Breath control practice can assist the body in slowing down it’s rhythm. Your muscles start to relax. Your brain resonance drops and the chemical release subsides. When practiced on a regular basis this can help you build your bodies natural relaxation response which aids in napping.

I decided to use the 1/4, 1/4, 1/2 breathing approach. A decision guided by studying various methodologies and testing under the guidance of many practitioners. Along with the approach, we also had a pattern of music in mind.

Part #2 — Frequency

Super Sonic

The second part of the formula was frequency. I had spent a long time playing with Binaural frequencies. They have always fascinated me. Binaural frequencies are an entry level way of helping the brain modulate at a desired frequency range. An auditory illusion, Binaural frequencies occur when two sine waves pass into each ear at varying oscillations. The difference in each pass creates a frequency variable measured in hz (Hertz). This we know as Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. The Monroe Institute have been conducting ongoing research on Binaural frequencies for many years, if you want to find out more.

Through this research one thing sparked my interested. Creating calm music at a lower frequency combined with slower breathing patterns. How would the brain react? A frequency of 12–15hz, which is the motor rhythm for focus. Combined with the 1/4, 1/4, 1/2 breathing pattern.

The idea for Breathonics was born.

Music to breathe to that you could consume based on your situation. Feeling stressed? Take a 5 min micro-nap on relax setting. Preparing for an important meeting? A quick blast of focus mode on a higher frequency setting with more energetic music. Could this help me get to the desired state faster?

Part #3 — The Music

The Overlay

The final piece of the puzzle was the music itself. Therapy music has been around for a long time. We’ve all heard a track designed to evoke a calm response. Sometimes you hear it in an elevator! Think of your favourite movie. Music and sound can strike fear into our hearts with a chord. Or bring a beautiful scene close to tears with a simple key change. Music is one of the most powerful mediums we have. And it’s universal.

Over the last 40 years, music has been the subject of frequent experiments. Measurement of physical reactions provoked by music’s tonality, frequency and also sound waves. Marconi Union, an English musical trio, developed music in collaboration with therapists. Designed to calm anxiety, it received over 20m views on YouTube. Mindlabs, a research agency, worked with Neurologists to study the effect of the music. They observed a 65% drop in anxiety in people when exposed to the piece.

The magic ‘golden tone’ is a frequency of 432Hz. Believed to be mathematically consistent with the patterns of the universe. Modern music today is tuned to 440Hz, ancient instruments were tuned to 432Hz. This frequency carried healing vibrations along with feelings of peace and calmness. On a recent 3-hour Q&A (AMA on Reddit), the late musician Prince, answered only one question.

Dee J FoGee: “Greetings my dear Brother… Please address the importance of ALL music being tuned to 432hz sound frequencies??? Thanks in advance!!! Warmest regards, Emanuel…”
“The Gold Standard,” along with a link to an article explaining why music should be converted to 432 HZ, because it’s the frequency best adapted to human ears.
We started to look at the dynamic make up of music keys and their connected frequency. Where D Major can resonate feelings of triumph, G Minor can evoke uneasiness in some people. The actual frequency of the key (i.e. key of C0 is 16.35Hz) is also a consideration. Working to compliment the binaural frequencies, so the music is seamless and beautiful.

We devised a formula based on a proprietary matrix. This allowed us to build Breathonics in two sections.

1. ‘Relax’ are frequencies based around lower bands of resonance, and

2. ‘Focus’ incorporates not only higher bands, but faster breathing patterns. And more energetic pieces.

Testing the content

We built the first composition. A moody warm piece of music that encompassed the sound of rain on a hot evening. Drips rolling off tin roofs. Blended with the sounds of woodland pipes in romantic forgotten alleyways. We incorporated low end frequencies as a bass that was warm and empowering and we set this to a modest 5 BPM (breaths per minute). The optimum breathing rate for a healthy human is around 6 BPM (breaths per minute) 5 is a little advanced, but as we would be testing with yoga teachers and practitioners, I felt it was fair pace.

The point of Breathonics is to help people. Help them control their breathing. Help them switch off and clear their minds. To help start to build the body’s natural relaxation response to stress. Leading to easier napping and sleeping.

Starting with a heartbeat.

We BETA tested 5 users. Giving them one week to listen to the content. We worked with one of our beta users to understand the biometric data the body was responding with. To see if the ‘feels’ they were feeling were physical and in-line with the goal of the content piece itself.

Now I don’t want to go to deep on the science here. We are about to embark on clinical trials with Neurologist. Testing based on HRV (Heart Rate Variability) and EEG (electroencephalogram) readings. But we have already started to look at heart rate reactions of the user when consuming our content. This doesn’t give too much away. Scientists reading this will concur that heart rate is not an appropriate measure. But what we started to see was a basic pattern in heart rate reduction. As the music slowed down, as the lower frequencies resonated with the brain. The users breathing starts to fall in time, relaxation would begin and heart rate would fall.

In 9 sessions, the average heart rate fell by around 19% in under 5 minutes of following Breathonics.

We are at the very beginning of this journey to help the world relax.

We are working with many producers and artists from across the globe. All developing Breathonics content. We will be launching Breathonics as free content for everybody so please subscribe to our Youtube channel and use this content as much as you like.

For those who are interested in following our progress, we are also building an ecosystem designed to help you relax and switch off.

If you would like to contact us or submit any of your own work for consideration to the Breathonics programme. Please drop us a note at info@silentmode.com.

Bradley Young is the co-founder of Silentmode, a company that creates smart relaxation solutions that help people reduce stress and improve their performance. They are serious about the power of rest.

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