"Fun, must be re-known, not as an experience or material interaction, but as a sensation in the body which can be felt in the face of adversity."
5 Ways Breathwork Is Good For Business
Breathing may well be being touted by the likes of Vogue as the 'new yoga' and trending in the world of wellbeing and fitness, but why does breathwork facilitator and brand strategist/Creative Director, Jo Cruickshanks, think it's the leadership tool everyone needs to be using?
Breathing - it's the first thing we do and the last. It happens without you thinking and often many of us don't pay much attention to it.
You may have heard. Breathwork and paying attention to your breath, according to many, can hold the keys to better health, wellbeing and energy. Many people who try breathwork also claim to create a greater spiritual connection and the practice is used by many as a tool for intuition, purpose and inspiration.
That's all well and good, but how is breathwork going to be good for your business? Here are the 5 ways I believe breathwork can be used to enhance, improve and grow your business:
- Stress Busting - Stress management is critical in the wellbeing of a workplace and breathing has a direct impact on how you can move from stress to calm. With correct and aware breathing, we can learn to move through stress with our breath. We have gears with breathing that can regulate stressful moments in our workday. I believe breath can transform our relationship to stress and tension so that we can step out of fear and victim mentality and into beings who know how to play and regulate their nervous systems before we have the symptoms of hitting the stress wall over and over.
- Embodied Purpose - 'What's your Why?' became an 'essential' strategy question after Simon Sinek gave name, logic and reason to what most of us creatives already knew in our bones: people don't buy products, they buy stories that have a purpose and meaning beyond selling a commodity. Purpose promised a humanisation of business and everyone went on the journey to find it and claim it. Thousands of pounds and hours were spent why-finding, so why is there little change in the world of business today? Why has purpose, at best, ended up being another team building mantra or slogan to bring things together, to hang a campaign from? Embodiment is what I believe is missing. I have gone on hundreds of 'why' journeys' with leaders to excavate the very fibre of their brand, to come forth with something fresh and authentic and meaningful - only to revisit the brand months later to find said purpose is in a document stuffed at the back of everyone's drawers (and minds no doubt). After 15 years of this pattern, I realised: it's not that we don't care, it's that the patterns of tension in our body stop us from really changing. Purpose is an energy not a strategy and to lead, work and live with purpose, we have to be able to listen to the whispers of purpose that move up through our bodies. This is subtle and not a skill we have been taught. Breathwork is a powerful tool to undo tension or 'noise' in our bodies so we can rest in a space to listen. Once we hear the whispers of purpose, we begin to be pulled and guided beyond rational logic into true creativity and purpose. I believe 'purpose' has failed to transform our businesses because we haven't embodied it and until then, it's another mental process.
- Shadow - This is a concept that Jung referred to in psychology and it refers to the fragmented parts of ourselves that we have labelled unacceptable. My experience is that there is a collective shadow in the workplace - especially in the workplace where there is little room for the humans to be themselves. The more humans have to repress parts of themselves to be 'worthy' of something then the more the shadow can play out. Shadow in the workplace can look like cultural 'issues' - from bitchiness to efficiency to racism. The thing is though, whilst shadow can seem and sound scary, actually the shadow holds the fruit of transformation in the person and, I believe, in the workplace culture. There is a reason so many systems are not working, and I feel it has a lot to do with the shadow. Breathwork connects us to the parts of ourselves we have labelled unacceptable and, if guided well, can be a gateway to integrating and transmuting those parts into gifts and new resource and energy.
- Health - Breath is life and if a person's breath is compromised, chances are, so will their health. I once worked with a colleague who would hold his breath as he coded. He would grunt and kind of make tense sounds. He had no idea he was doing it. As a very aware person, I knew it was not healthy - I used to mention it and try to get him to be mindful of it because there was a part of me that knew this was signaling a health issue. This young lad a few years later was found to have a very aggressive cancer in his Lymph in his gut. I'm glad to say, he has recovered and in remission (and loves breathwork), but to me, his breathing was an early indicator of something in the mechanics of his body being 'off'. I have a belief that most people aren't breathing correctly as they are living and that directly correlates to their health. The breath metabolises CO2, our main waste product and if this isn't functional then the increase in CO2 waste in the body can ruin our health and our brain function. There is so much science to back this up and it's what I have experienced myself: I know if I let my breath practice slip, my tension increases, I start getting stressed, I am tired, I can't focus.
- Fun - The corporate world has been drinking it's own Kool Aid for so long - everyone is taking themselves so seriously, yet the old systems are literally crumbling. Every external safety or certainty or known are slipping away and this feels scary because no one has told us how to trust in nothing, to trust in our body. In the face of this transformation, the media and patterns of culture tell us to be in fear and when this happens, we lose our breath, our connection with what is real now. Fun, must be re-known, not as an experience or material interaction, but as a sensation in the body which can be felt in the face of adversity. In fact, that is the secret to this next wave of leadership - we must be able to feel the 'fun' of being alive, of having a body, of letting creativity guide us - whilst we let the old things crumble.
This is the creative process - it's fluid, it's a ride into the unknown and maybe it's the kind of fun we have all been seeking. In this space, every human can contribute to the global transformation that we are being called into right now. The best way I know to access fun as a felt sense is breathwork - the tingle, the lightness, the sense of connection and gratitude is just a few breaths away. No holiday or escape to the country required.
I know, all this sounds quite woo woo, but I promise you, this work is not simply for yogis and people who like to meditate, most of them already know what the problems are. Breathwork, in my opinion, is for the people who need to lead in the next wave. We cannot go back to normal, we need different ways to use our businesses to serve humanity, not to simply serve the system.
What have you got to lose? A few breaths, 35 minutes of your time, an allowance of yourself to do something beyond what you think?
Sign up for a short breathwork session to see for yourself what it's all about.