Superman Syndrome and Breathing: If not Made of Steel, This Way of Breathing Would Surely Cause Chest Pains.
"To do is to be." Sartre; "To be is to do." Santayana. "Do be do be do." Sinatra I saw that painted on an 8 ft high plywood wall surrounding a construction site in England in 1977. It speaks volumes for the extreme influences of high chest or belly/lower abdominal front, side and back breathing or the balance between the two we often refer to in our work and how that ties into our autonomic nervous system and how we think, feel and act. Someone who demonstrates that as a natural/proper way to breathe albeit extremely dysfunctional, can be jokingly be referred to as a "carrier".
"You are what you eat and you be how you breathe." Gary Hagman, San Francisco Body Worker
The super-man in this picture is obviously a high chest shallow breather. The breathing pattern is obviously UDB. If he was not made of steel, his way of high chest vasoconstricting breathing would surely cause chest pains.
Superman is a doer. He is one of extreme accomplishments. Far beyond human ability. Alexander Lowen, MD in his landmark book Bioenergetics stated that a tight stomach is almost always a sign of neurosis. A large chest that can not flex ensures shallow high chest breathing.
What if one had BOTH a large tight chest and over tight belly? At the same time?
See how superman's breathing pattern (or yours) might coincide with your actions and when more belly breathing might be in order for him to have a balanced happy peaceful life. Your call here. Is more balance in order?
Practically everyone admires a superman or superhero. But the chest must flex for the breathing to be able to expand and contract into deep easy in-breaths and relaxing out-breaths.
The big chest and small waist is a western role model that is negative to healthy relaxed breathing pattern animated below to your right.
In real life, a huge chest does not mean a flexible/expanding and contracting chest or even a flexible personality for that matter.
The secret of life is developing energy and managing it. Breathing is our primary source of energy. The breathing must be balanced properly and centered in the lower part of the thorax/belly-chest for the nervous system to be able to calm down, rest and relax when appropriate. When you stop to think of it, how can one relax when they believe they need to save the world or whatever? Read The Superman Syndrome.
Speaking of relaxing, Robert Kamm notes in his book, The Superman Syndrome, that "Americans are working an average of six weeks to three months more per year than they did just a decade ago. Additionally, more than 70% of people in offices work weekends and more than 70% of American parents feel they don't spend enough time with their kids. Kamm says that the Superman Syndrome is characterized by an inability or unwillingness to throw the off-switch... whether on a cell phone, the computer, or in our own brains."
Kamm goes on to say "the Superman Syndrome is a dangerous workplace success formula that forces men and women to leap tall buildings and outrun speeding bullets -- at the expense of personal lives, families, children and even business productivity. This represents a major hypocrisy implicit in nearly every boardroom in America: The belief that we should be accountable to work but not to our families."
When you study the nervous system and see what this high chest breathing pattern does to it you understand how these people get caught up in this do and or die pattern.
|Try and keep up with this animation for 60 seconds and see how you feel.
|Get dizzy. Anxious. Fingers stiffen? Headachy? Any other discomfort?
This is commonly called hyperventilation or over breathing. When it comes to breathing, slower is mostly better. Not ALWAYS, because in our advanced training we will show you how that is not always so, but for now, consider breathing slower and if properly balanced, deeper.
This speed of life is a core aspect of harmful stress. To make matters worse, the breathing may seem normal while at rest but when the proverbial "stuff" hits the fan it can go completely out of balance and drive the nervous system bonkers.
This unbalanced breathing pattern (UDB) invites almost all maladies including excessive stress, anxiety and panic, phobias, depression, high blood pressure, allergies, fatigue, poor sleep, speech or singing issues, emotional imbalance, personality distortions, excessive body weight, heart problems and many forms of cancer.
Two subtle day to day factors that cause or worsen the breathing balance is over tight at the band; brassieres and belts which invite unbalanced breathing and possible heart, lung, sleep, speech, digestion, and elimination issues.
From a recent client: Since our last visit, I have begun to be more aware of a few things:
- I’ve had much less of the adrenaline rush feeling in my chest. Perhaps there’s a little less external stress which is causing my response to be less, but I think there is a positive benefit from our sessions as well.
- I’ve noticed that I have had fewer heart palpitations and fluttering than I had previously.
- Breathing overall seems easier and deeper into the lower part of my lungs.
- I have done some light exercise on the elliptical machine at the gym to observe my breathing. I went easy per your orders. I noticed how my first incline was to mouth-breathe, but I consciously made sure that I only breathed through my nose and tried to fill my lungs. It felt a little foreign to do that, but I adjusted to it as time went on. Doing this made me much more aware of how much I mouth breathe.
- I like wearing the strap because it’s not distracting or bothersome but it occasionally makes me think about checking in with my breathing. I also assume that it’s partially responsible for encouraging me to breathe past my chest.
- I think I’m making some good progress with daytime breathing. Also, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve had a couple of good nights without my dental appliance, but a couple that I haven’t done so well. The last couple of nights I have used my appliance mainly because I wanted to ensure I got a good night’s sleep for the next day at work. I’ll continue to experiment sleeping without it on the nights when I feel that I have the luxury of experimenting. JH