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Podcast Episode 078: The Five Secrets About Listening And Your Breathing

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Jenny Taylor is passionate about conscious connection between our breathing and our productivity. 

 A member of the international breathwork foundation, Jenny is an expert teacher and education on the connection between better breathing and a more productive and fulfilled life. 

 Jenny explains the connection between breathing and listening and takes the time to create simple practical exercises that you can do each day to improve your breathing. 

 Jenny reinforces many of the stories and theories from our discussion with James Nestor in Episode 74 Unlock the ancient secrets between listening and breathing. 

 In this very practical discussion Jenny helps me make sense of a big part of my teenage years and the impact of breathing on me. 

Transcript

Podcast Episode 078: The Five Secrets About Listening And Your Breathing

Oscar Trimboli: 

Deep listening impact beyond words. Good day. I’m Oscar Trimboli, and this is Apple award-winning podcast, Deep Listening, designed to move you from a distracted listener to a deep and impactful leader. Did you know you spend 55% of your day listening, yet only 2% of people have ever been taught how? In each episode, we explore the five levels of listening. Communication is 50% speaking and 50% listening. Yet as a leader, you’re taught only the importance of communication from the perspective of how to speak. It’s critical you start to build some muscles for the next phase in how to listen.

The cost of not listening? It’s confusion. It’s conflict. It’s projects running over schedule. It’s lost customers. It’s great employees that leave before they want to. When you implement the strategies, the tips and tactics that you’ll hear, you’ll get four hours a week back in your schedule. I wonder what you could do with an extra four hours a week. Jenny Taylor is passionate about the conscious connection between our breathing and our productivity. As a member of the International Breathwork Foundation, Jenny’s an expert.

She’s a marvellous teacher and educator explaining practically the connection between better breathing and a more fulfilled life. Jenny explains the connection between breathing and listening and takes the time to create simple, practical exercises that you can do immediately. In fact, while listening to this interview to improve your breathing, Jenny reinforces many of the stories and theories and reports and research from our discussion with James Nestor in episode 74, Unlocking the ancient secrets between listening and breathing.

This is a really practical discussion, and I’m grateful because Jenny helps me make a huge sense of a large part of my teenage years and the impact that breathing had on me during my teenage years. Let’s listen to Jenny. What frustrates you when other people don’t listen to you?

Jenny Taylor:     

Really what I don’t like is when others are distracted when I’m talking. Specifically, I remember being at a mortgage broker years and years ago, probably 10 or 20 years ago, when I first went to get a mortgage for my house. I didn’t go with this fellow specifically because I was sitting opposite him and he could see outside his window at work, and he spent most of the time looking out the window rather than engaging with me. And I’m sure he’s probably a very capable person and had the ability to do both at once, yet I felt really disconnected to him.

And I just felt like I should have been his centre of attention in terms of listening to me. So that and the typical when you’re sitting having a coffee or you have an appointment with someone and their mobile phone rings and they take it.

Oscar Trimboli:  

Yeah. I was literally kicking off with a new client yesterday. Their office is based on the harbour, and they were up on level 46. And to the left as you looked out the window was the Sydney Harbour Bridge, to the right was the Sydney Opera House, and a little bit further to the right was the New South Wales governor’s residence and the Sydney Botanic Gardens. You could see out to Manly and all the way through the heads. The view was spectacular, and that’s why I chose to sit with my back to the view for the whole conversation I had with him because I knew I’d be distracted.

I think a lot of us aren’t even conscious of our physical environment and its implications for how we show up around distractions as well. What do you think you struggle with when it comes to listening?

Jenny Taylor:        

Definitely identify with being the interrupter. I really could remember examples of me interrupting, particularly being frustrated that people weren’t explaining themselves quick enough, and I was making assumptions and finishing sentences for them or assuming that I knew what they were going to say next and putting the words in their mouth.

Oscar Trimboli:          

Do you think you kind of listen differently at home and at work in your personal relationships and in your professional relationships?

Jenny Taylor:       

I think so. My husband is a very detailed person and very auditory. I’m very visual and a lot of people around me are very auditory. I struggle with the detailed explanations of things. It’s like just stop talking and show me. At home, I struggle with that considerably because I guess it’s that familiarity with the person you live with. And in the workplace, I do tend to allow that more because I have more of an understanding now of how that works for me in terms of being auditory versus visual.

Oscar Trimboli:       

You mentioned that you notice you interrupt a lot. I’m just fascinated by how conscious you are of your breathing in those moments where you are interrupting.

Jenny Taylor:       

I understand now that I actually hold my breath because this is tension comes up in my body because I’m looking for the person finish so I can speak. And when I don’t do that, it creates an innate tension and I catch myself holding my breath. With the work I do, I’m a lot more aware of that now and can just take a breath and allow a person to keep speaking and I can get more depth in listening and really get what they’re going to say rather than what I think they should be saying. It’s fascinating.

When you really start to be conscious of your breath, then there’s a whole heap of examples when you don’t do it very well. And that’s what breath awareness is about really because we’ve been taught… Or it’s something we do involuntarily as a matter of survival, yet it’s one of the only systems in our body that we have the potential to control in the moment. When you become more aware of your breath, then it gives you the ability to change it instantly. And that affects how you listen to people, how you relate to people. It lowers your stress level in the moment, blood pressure.

Oscar Trimboli:       

I want to take you back into that moment where you’re frustrated and want to interrupt, because I’m sure people are like, “Yeah, that’s me,” and yet, the opposite is true too. How do you even notice that you’re holding your breath? What’s a couple of signals beyond holding your breath that you might notice in the way you’re physically interacting with yourself that will be a clue about holding your breath and the consequences of that when you’re ready to interrupt? And more importantly, what to do about it, Jenny.

Jenny Taylor:             

Well, I think the first sign is what emotion might be coming up or how your body is feeling. I just feel myself getting tensed and the emotion is frustration starts to come up. And this all happens within a split second. My body gets tense, so I feel a bit frustrated. Then I go, ah, the next check is what’s my breathing doing without really thinking about it now. And usually I’m just holding my breath. It can be only for a short time. But every time you do that, it’s like having a small death. They’re the clear signs.

And then I remember to take a deep breath out, relax my shoulders, and just pay attention to the person and then listen to what they’re saying.

Oscar Trimboli:     

What do you think we should be listening to in the breath of the other person?

Jenny Taylor:         

Working with your breath is around emotions. I get quite a few people come who are stuck in the… They don’t feel heard in life in general. Things aren’t going well for them. They don’t get what they are looking for in life. They feel unheard, unvalued, and small. And when people feeling unheard, it often affects the throat. When that emotion is coming up in somebody else, you might hear them start to cough or their voice will get gravely, or there’s some restriction in the throat, which is helping to restrict their breathing in some way.

That’s a sign that they’re not comfortable with either saying what they actually want to say, or they don’t feel like they’re being heard, or you’re not interpreting what they’re saying correctly. Does that make sense?

Oscar Trimboli:         

Is there anything you noticed from my breathing?

Jenny Taylor:     

I can’t really hear your breathing, but I can hear that your… I possibly heard you hold your breath a minute ago. Yet you have a very calm conceded way of talking as well, which would indicate to me that you have quite good control over your breathing as well.

Oscar Trimboli:        

Yeah. When you mentioned the interrupting situation and holding your breath, I was kind of trying to connect with that state. So I was definitely holding my breath. For a lot of us, we can’t go through a whole bunch of elaborate breathing exercises, or at least that’s the story we tell ourselves. And Jenny, one of the simple techniques I use and I talk to people about is the minute I step into a building to go and visit somebody, the minute I cross the lobby entrance, I’ll switch my phone off. I’ll put it in my bag.

And then whilst I’m in the lift or between the entrance and the time I get to reception, I just take three simple deep breaths and try and set my intention from that moment for the rest of the conversation for the people I’m about to meet with. And most people are surprised. It’s like, “Three deep breaths, Oscar. Does it sound like?” I said look, if I’m in a lift, you wouldn’t even notice it. And I’m walking, so I’m just really conscious about where my feet are landing and I’m conscious about breathing through my nose rather than through my mouth.

For a lot of people who want to integrate thinking about their breathing into their day, if we think about moments in between meetings, you might get 30 seconds between a meeting. Jenny, could you give us some really simple instruction to take us through what to do in the 30 second version of this? And I’d love to invite you after that to take us through a longer version of that as well where we might be preparing for a significant meeting, one where we might feel tension, one where we might feel conflict will arise, or one where a lot’s at stake.

Jenny Taylor:   

The description you gave of being in the lift and doing your three deep breaths and setting your intention is really the basis of conscious breathing. You’ve done it because it’s something you intrinsically found worked for you and really it is as simple as that. I worked in places where you have back-to-back meetings all the time and you may be in a board room all day seeing different people, or you may have to move between offices. And what I found was useful for me was in between meetings, you might have the opportunity to go and get a glass of water.

On the way to getting a glass of water, you can do exactly what you spoke to earlier about, which is really bringing your awareness back to your breath. Taking three deep breaths. And I love that you spoke about setting the intention because one of the things that has really changed the way I could sit and listen in a meeting and actually influence the outcome of the meeting was to really understand what you want to get from the meeting, not only in terms of tangible outcomes, but also in terms of how you want to be feeling and what your emotional state do you want to be in.

If you’ve got a meeting that is coming up and you know it’s going to be difficult, it might be a negotiation and you’re at a tricky stage, a really important element of breathwork is to set the intention for how you’d like that to pan out. When you’re in your 30 second process of preparing yourself for that meeting, you’d be breathing in calm and peaceful and breathing out being frustrated. This makes sense because your breathing is responsible for releasing 70% of toxins out of your body you release on your out breaths.

If you’re breathing out frustration and breathing in calm in those three breaths, then you’re actually clearing your body or making space in your body and allowing that to actually happen in the meeting.

Oscar Trimboli:         

I’m curious to just go a little bit further. This was kind of taught to me by a few big mistakes I made learning how to swim as an adult where I’d mastered the art of breathing swimming in the swimming pool. The minute I went into the ocean, I realised I hadn’t mastered the art of breathing at all in the swimming pool. I was cheating in fact. I was breathing out and in through my mouth on the same stroke in a pool. And the minute I got into the ocean, it didn’t work. And my instructor just said, “You’re not breathing out through your mouth, Oscar. And you’re not breathing in through your nose.”

And it prompted me to think, I never asked the question, is it critical to breath in through your nose and what does that create for you? I find my breathing connects me to my self faster when I breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth. I’m very conscious as I step into that lift and extend the story a little bit longer is breathing through my nose, feeling it coming down through my throat, making sure it gets all the way to the bottom of my lungs, and then letting it out slowly through my mouth. Is there any difference between breathing in through your nose and breathing in through your mouth?

Jenny Taylor:    

Breathing in through your nose has… If you talk to a Buteyko breathwork Specialist, he really specialises in the mechanics of breathing. Breathing in through your nose is really important from a developmental point of view as in early childhood. It actually sets up the proper development of your whole nasal cavity and your jawline. People who are mouth breathers in and out in the early stages of development may have issues with their jawline and their nasal cavities later in life.

Oscar Trimboli:      

Well, I’m just going to give you a commercial break from my teenage years.

Jenny Taylor:   

Right.

Oscar Trimboli: 

I had a very mouth formed jaw upper overbite. Really significant. If you saw photos of me before braces, I look like a werewolf, and I had very large teeth roots as well, at least that’s what the dentist and orthodontist who did some work on me. What you’ve just said fascinates me because I struggled with a lot of things because of my actual jaw placement relative to the upper bite. Now it’s like, oh my goodness, this could be a little interesting little key unlocking something for us, Jenny. Thank you.

Jenny Taylor:     

Great. I’d be going back and just looking at whether you remember being a mouth breather. And when I say mouth breather, I mean in and out by the mouth. That kind of thing.

Oscar Trimboli:   

That’s why I wish I swam as a youngster because then I could figure that out, to kind of learning as an adult kind of put a spotlight on any light with aggressing. But maybe not and maybe that’s useful for some of us in the audience as well. Because I kind of got braces from the age of 13 to the age 18. It was a very long period of time because the adjustment was quite extensive. I looked like a werewolf, but I think that would have had some breathing implications for me for sure. I can’t say precisely, but yeah, you’ve just pointed out something quite fascinating.

For those people who make a lot of phone calls during the day, this is a common question I get asked by people who are sending me sending emails, podcast@oscartrimboli.com if you want to send me an email, or people on the Facebook group, oscartrimboli.com/facebook, is, “Hey, Oscar, everything you talk about assumes that I’m sitting in front of somebody face-to-face or in a meeting room. But I call people. Is it any different in thinking about the breathing in between phone calls because obviously going from one meeting room to another or one meeting to another, you got a little bit more time to do it.

What’s the minimum amount of time you think you should do that 30 second exercise that would be productive for somebody? Can you get away with one breath, two breath, three breaths, four breaths?” What would you say the minimum would be to be productive, Jenny?

Jenny Taylor:         

I was doing some project work last year in a highly stressful situation. People would often notice me just taking one or two deep breaths just to bring myself back into where I needed to be in any one moment. Minimum of two to three. Taking a conscious breath is different to a big sigh. I don’t know if you’ve heard people sigh at work, and your listeners might do that quite often. But really a sigh is a result of really an involuntary response to feeling frustrated. Sigh.

And whilst it’s good in the moment to be able to consciously then take three breaths after that, it builds on and takes you out of the I’m frustrated and I’m sighing into of I’m taking control of how I’m feeling and I’m flooding my body with oxygen because it’s better for me to do that.

Oscar Trimboli:    

It might take you just a little bit longer if you’ve come from a stressful, tense situation, and three breaths mightn’t be appropriate then. That’s when you might need to give yourself a minute time out and just collect your thoughts before you do that. The answer is it definitely depends. And the thing we want to explore today is just to get you conscious of your breathing, as well as a little advanced and getting conscious of the breathing of the other person.

Now, if you do have time between meetings, and this is one of the biggest productivity hacks that Google have talked about in the last three years, where they start large team meetings with a process of getting into a state and a place where people collect their thoughts and become conscious of their breathing. Jenny, I’d love you to take us through a slightly extended version, maybe a three minute version, of connecting with yourself, your breathing and your intention.

Jenny Taylor:      

A three minute breathing exercise that you can do to really set yourself up either before a meeting or even at the start of the day when you haven’t even left the house would be to put yourself in a comfortable spot, whether that’s sitting down if you have that luxury or you might be standing up somewhere. And really it’s about grounding, so making sure your feet are flat on the floor, making sure your hands are in a comfortable position. You’re not holding onto anything. And if you’re sitting down, putting your hands in your lap and then closing down your eyes.

For some people, closing their eyes is uncomfortable. So if that’s uncomfortable, just closing down or looking down into your lap rather than fully closing your eyes. Find whatever is useful for you. And then it’s about bringing your awareness to your breath. So in that state of being still, nothing in your hands, and your mobile phone’s off, bringing your awareness to your breath. Breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. And as you breathe in, noticing what that feels like, noticing where your breath is going into your body.

Is it actually just going to your chest, or are you breathing into your belly? And as you breathe, becoming aware of your body and starting from your top of your head, scanning down your body, so relaxing, like you pulled the plug out of the bath and all the water is flowing out of the bath. Imagine all the tension going out of your body down your face, slackening your jaw a bit, relaxing your shoulders, unclenching your legs, and really getting comfortable in that space and continuing to breath. And as you get into your own breathing rhythm, you might want to lengthen your breath.

Starting breathing in on the count of four, if that feels comfortable for you, and then breathing out at the count of four. And as you continue in your breathing practise, lengthening your breath on the way out. So what that means is breathing in for four and then breathing out for a count of five and continuing with that until it feels comfortable. Then you may want to increase from breathing in for four to breathing out for six. And as you do this, it might be possible to breathe in for four and working to breathing out for eight, all the while really being conscious of where your breath is going in your body.

If any thoughts are coming through, allowing them just to pass through without catching them and without staying stuck on anyone thought. Just letting them pass through. Moving from your head awareness space into your body’s awareness space. And do this for as long as you need to bring yourself back into a state of breathing slower, in a state of readiness for the next thing that you have to do that day. And when you feel ready, you can open your eyes.

Oscar Trimboli:

I feel really clear. I feel really ready.

Jenny Taylor:            

In that moment, taking three deep breaths and doing that 30 second version, or if you have the time to do the three minute version, you’ll actually end up being more productive because the breathing technique has been medically shown to lower blood pressure, reduce hypertension and increases focus, slows down thoughts, and it has potential to increase your resourcefulness and your productivity. You were speaking earlier about one of the big productivity hacks being to do a breath exercise.

Well, that’s like maintaining your car so your car doesn’t break down. And we all know when our car breaks down, there’s a lot more frustration and time off the road.

Oscar Trimboli: 

The car is an interesting example. Jenny, what I do when I get in the car, the minute I click the seatbelt in, that very act there, is another time where I do the three breath exercise. For me, these kind of physical cues, crossing the lobby, stepping in and sitting in the car and then clicking the seatbelt, the safety belt, and that’s true whether I’m the driver or the passenger or wherever I’m seated in the car. What I’ve taken out of what you said is if I can find other cues that can signal to me, when you do this, become conscious of that, the things that I do relatively regularly, I think that’s helpful for me.

The signal is sending me breathing in the three breath exercise is critical to just bring me to the moment. Not what’s happening in the future, not what’s happened in the past, but just to be in that moment right now. Being in the moment right now, what’s going through my head, Jenny, is I’m curious what else we have uncovered that might be useful for the audience as it relates to breathing. And one of the questions that’s prompted me is, again, is it possible that in a good conversation the breathing becomes synchronised between the speaker and the listener, for example?

That’s a curiosity a number of people have asked me in the Deep Listening Training Courses, because a number of people that are highly conscious actually comment on that when we do one of the listening exercises. They were so in tune with the other person’s breathing that they noticed that they were breathing in a similar pattern.

Jenny Taylor:   

If you are wanting to be in a deep listening mode with the person you’re talking with, then to come into a state of mirroring their breathing. I’m thinking more importantly if you’re conscious of your breath, then be the example of how good breathing is and they might mirror you, then you’re actually showing that you are deeply listening in that moment because you’re so connected to them. When you speak in level one of listening to you, making space and how deeply are you breathing, well, that’s great.

We’ve talked about the three levels of breathing, three broad categories of breathing, and one would be ineffectual breathing, which is what we do most of the time involuntary. We’ve talked about conscious breathing, which is bringing the awareness to your breath and doing your 30 second or your three minute breath exercise. And there is another level of breathing and we call it conscious connected breathing, which is really the therapeutic use of the breath. And this is for people who come into breath awareness, understand the power of being able to consciously connect to their breath.

And then once you go further to really explore, really refine, I guess, their productivity and performance by really getting to understand themselves as a person in self-development work. And your five levels of listening really reflect the process of using breath work as a therapeutic tool because it’s about making a space. Level two is the content, so be respectful, be present, feel and listen to what comes up for you in that therapeutic moment personally, the context around that, and then really what’s being unsaid and then the meaning.

It’s really a reflection of a deeper version of your levels one to five in deep listening. It’s really about deeply listening to who you are as a person. And for leaders and managers out there being able to really refine themselves as leaders and managers and really understanding and getting to know themselves.

Oscar Trimboli:    

The deeper you breathe, the deeper you listen. What a masterclass in the practical practise of breathing from Jenny. How conscious are you about your breath and the breathing of the speaker that you’re listening to? Did you notice my breathing during the interview? One of the upsides of video conferencing is the camera is so, so close to the speaker, you should be able to tell me what the colour of their eyes are, and you should be able to notice their breathing also. There are very few upsides at the moment with spending a lot time on video conference. This is one of them.

Jenny changed my mind about listening by making the connection to the interrupting listening villain. Jenny showed me that the impatience of the interrupting listening villain is coming from a place of helping rather than merely wanting to stop the other person from speaking and interrupting. Listening villains, what are these listening villains, Oscar? If you’d like to learn about which one of the four villains of listening is your primarily villain and the secondary villain, the one that gets in the way after the primary one, visit listeningquiz.com.

You can take the submitted quiz and you will get a five page report with three simple actions for you to follow when it comes to your listening. So spend some time. Visit listeningquiz.com and you can find out who you’re listening villains are. Thanks to Jenny for changing my mind about the interrupting listening villain. What did you take away from today? What will you learn and apply? I’m really fascinated about what people actually do with the tips that we provide.

We discuss that in our Deep Listening Community of Practise, which we meet once a month, three different timezones, the Americas, Asia, and Europe, to help each other practise our listening and learn more. If you’d like to tell me what you’re about to apply or what you’d like to apply or maybe it’s just what gets in your way, what’s challenging for you today, to quote Robin, visit oscartrimboli.com/contact. That’s oscartrimboli.com/contact. And on that page, you can leave me a voicemail.

And if you like, I can even play the voicemail out during the podcast and answer the question not just for you, but for everybody else. And if not, you can leave an email there as well. So visit oscartrimboli.com/contact. Wonder what my breathing is telling you at the moment? Have you been listening to my breath during the episode? And have you noticed your own breathing in the last 30 minutes? I bet you have. To Jenny, thank you so much for your masterclass. And to you, thanks for listening.

Jenny, I’d love for me to experience your expertise around breathing and help me set up a great state of mind as we commence this interview. Would you mind taking me through a breathing exercise for two or three minutes to get me into a place that’s going to be productive for you and for me and for the audience?

Jenny Taylor:

So, if you’d like to get comfortable in your chair. I’m assuming you’re sitting in a chair or wherever you’re sitting.

Oscar Trimboli:  

Yeah, I’m in a chair. I’m sitting and my feet are on the ground.

Jenny Taylor:   

Great. And maybe place your hands in your lap or wherever that’s comfortable.

Oscar Trimboli:

My feet are on the ground and my hands are on my lap now.

Jenny Taylor:

Great. Depending on how you feel or whether there’s other people around, you might want to close your eyes. Or if that feels uncomfortable, just downcast your eyes.

Oscar Trimboli:    

My eyes are closed.

Jenny Taylor:    

Great. Bringing your awareness to your breath, breathing in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth if that feels better, and just turning your attention towards your breath and bringing yourself back into a state of being more aware of your body. Noticing how your breath is right now, whether it feels high in your chest, whether there’s any resistance to breathing anywhere in your body, and just being aware of how your breath is entering and leaving your body.

And as your mind quietens with this, noticing any thoughts that might come and go and releasing any attachment to those thoughts as you’re breathing. Allowing them to pass through, like clouds would pass on a summer’s day. Not really being attached. Noticing your breathing right. You might want to bring your breathing right down a little by breathing into a count of three or four. And as you breathe out, extending your breath out. You might want to start with breathing in for four and out for four.

And then as you bring yourself further down into a grounded stage ready for listening, you would extend your breath out, your exhale. So breathing in for four and then starting to breathe out for five until that feels comfortable. And then in for four and then out for six. In your mind, you’re preparing yourself for the conversation to come. Letting go of any expectations. Really allowing yourself to settle into the place of internal strength and internal power, feeling grounded and open to possibilities. And when you feel like you’re at a place where you feel ready, you can open your eyes and go about your day.

Oscar Trimboli: 

Thank you, Jenny. Super practical and hopefully that’s useful for each of you to get a different perspective on the exercises Jenny did during the formal discussion, as well as this bonus at the end. What I noticed in my body as Jenny took me through the exercise is I was holding a lot of tension in my neck and I needed to get rid of that. So as I was scanning my body, the first started I started to notice was my neck position, and it was really critical for me to get my shoulders back and my spine aligned.

The other thing I noticed is that it wasn’t until I was holding for four and out to six and deepening that breathing, as well as pushing it out that I came to a place where I was like, right, I am ready to go. Because up until then, no shortage of distractions in my mind, trying to move them to the side to get ready for the interview with Jenny. I hope that’s been helpful to you. Thanks for listening.

 

 

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