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Dan Brulé: Mastering Breathwork for Success

By May 22, 2019 May 28th, 2019 No Comments

“You got all three – mind intelligence, heart intelligence and body intelligence. And when all those things wake up, we enter a certain state that you can’t enter if you’re just relying on your head. ” – Dan Brulé

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Dan Brulé (@danbrule) is a master of the breath and world-renowned pioneer in the field of breathwork. He is also the author of “Just Breathe: Mastering Breathwork for Success in Life, Love, Business, and Beyond.” When you control your breathing, you can control your state of well-being and level of performance. The importance of breathing is key to improving your life. The secrets behind everyone from Navy SEAL warriors, elite athletes and champion martial artists is all about controlling your outcomes and changing results by controlling your breath. Today, they talk about the importance of proper breath for living and succeeding.

Learn how:

  • Breath connects the mind to the body
  • We’re all breathing the same bubble of air and breathing gives people a felt experience of our connection
  • We can use the analogy of water to understand how breathing should work, as in still water runs deep

Experience significant insight into breathing as well as a directed exercise in breathing provided by Dan and Mark.

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Hi folks. Welcome back to the Unbeatable Mind podcast. This is Mark Divine your host. Thanks so much for joining me today. Super appreciate it.

By the way this podcast is now available on Google Play and Stitcher and SoundCloud and what was the other one Geoff? There’s another one that’s really…? Spotify, that’s right. It’s available on Spotify, isn’t that pretty cool?

At any rate it’s been on iTunes for years and we have five hundred, six hundred five-star ratings on iTunes – which is awesome, thank you very much. But some of these other platforms, you know, they’re kind of sad, because they don’t have many ratings. And other people can’t find the show. And we want more people to find it on those platforms.

So if you listen to it on one of those and you like it – like the podcast – then please rate it. If you don’t like the podcast, maybe don’t rate it.

At any rate, appreciate you doing that. I am super excited to talk to my friend and fellow breatharian – Dan Brulé. You might recall – probably not, most people listening to this weren’t listening to this three or four years ago – but Dan was on several years ago. He’s been at SEALFIT headquarters several times. We’ve done a lot of work together. He’s been at our Unbeatable Mind summit before. We love Dan.

He is a master of the breath. He travels all around the world. In fact he’s sitting in his boxer shorts in Lithuania, right now? Or where are you Dan?

Dan: I am in Eindhoven, in the Netherlands. I was in Lithuania this morning.

Mark: Okay. And tomorrow you’ll be where?

Dan: I’m gonna be sitting here in the Netherlands for the next 10 days. We have about 10 days of programs in two different cities so I’m hunkering down for the next 10 days here.

Mark: Well enjoy being in one place for 10 whole days.

Dan: Yeah, it’s unusual.

Mark: Dan, you work with like elite athletes. You work with elite motivational speakers I’m thinking of one in particular. Last name sounds like “Obbins.” You’re a master of the breath – of Prana – and so let’s get into first like how you really got into this. Like what was it that drew you to the breath, besides staying alive? And really began to use it as a tool for therapy and for spiritual development and that kind of stuff?

Dan: Yeah, it started in kindergarten. I was raised in the Catholic Church and every Friday the pastor of our church would come around to the classrooms. And I remember the first time it happened, the nun who – the old-fashioned nuns had these big white thing and these giant rosary beads hanging from them and a gigantic stainless steel heart hanging from their chest and they were dressed in black. And you know for a little kid, this was like “wow.” this was a sight to see. We were in awe of the nuns.

But then the first time the priest came to visit – she sat with the kids. We were like “whoa! She’s like one of us now. And so this guy must be something.”

And you know he was the pastor – the Monsignor. He had red trim on his robes. You know, his Bible had gold around it and like… Very impressive. And he talked about the first book of the Bible in Genesis and how God took the dust of the earth and formed the body of man. And breathed into the nostrils the breath of life.

And for a little kid this was just the coolest thing I had ever heard. I was so excited at the idea that “Wow! God is breathing into us? Like why isn’t everybody like excited about this?” Mark: I mean, most of your peers are just checked out right now, you know I mean? Kindergarten. Come on you’re thinking about getting out to the playground or you’re dozing off. And you’re like what is this?

Dan: When we went to the playground I was organizing breath-holding competitions. That was… (laughing) yeah, yeah. It’s just been a passion – an obsession. I tried to escape it a few times and I had a normal job, but every job I’ve ever done just kept sticking my nose in the breath.

Mark: You were in the Navy too for a little bit, weren’t you?

Dan: Yeah, I did five years. I was a corpsman and deep-sea diver.

Mark: Requiring a lot of knowledge and awareness of the breath.

Dan: Yeah, we were mixing gases. Doing helium dives and I was listening as a topside tender, I could hear the guy breathing and I tell kind of where he was at. And I could remind him to relax and stuff. And when I was down there – hey, every breath is precious, you know?

And I had a couple of near drowning experiences. Made me even more passionate about breathing.

And my first job was an x-ray technician. And when you take an x-ray, one of the easiest x-rays to take is a chest x-ray. And so when you take a chest x-ray you tell the person “take in a deep breath. Hold it.” and then click you take their picture. And after I had given these same exact instructions to you know 30, 40, 50 people – it started to be really obvious that it was like the breath was talking to me. You know, what people thought was a full breath. What they did with their muscles. The effort they used. And I started to notice people’s relationship to their breathing.

And I was fascinated. And I started to see how personality traits are reflected in our breathing patterns. Our personality and tendencies – psychological tendencies, emotional tendencies – the breathing gives that stuff away.

And so I just my whole life I just get more and more fascinated until I ended up in India and China and tried to take the good stuff out of all the “woo-woo.” remove the rituals and the dogma, and the guru worship stuff and just take out the pieces of the breath that really work. So what I’ve done is I kind of westernized a lot of the Eastern breathing stuff.

Mark: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I’ve had quite a bit of exposure to that and you’re right you can get stuck in dogma pretty quickly. So at what point did you begin to see breath as a practice for psycho-emotional and spiritual development? Was that when you were in the Navy? When you started to have that?

Or was it when you started to actually study it through the eastern practices?

Dan: Yeah, once I got out of the military, I was able to dig more deeply into the parts of it that I really liked. That I found where my heart was really at with it.

But even much earlier it was very obvious to me. I mean when I first got in the military and even when I went to diving school actually and I ended up coming out second in my class. I think 38 started and the six of us finished. And so I had already… I was really fascinated and I was into it.

But I had a moment where I didn’t think I was gonna make it. I mean, there was one guy Youngblood I think his name was and whenever he showed up for PT in the morning it was like “oh, oh. We’re gonna do a lot of running today. I can just see it now. This guy just loves to run.”

And that particular day, man, I started falling back. I started falling back and negative self-talk is starting to come in. Even if it wasn’t verbalized, I was feeling it. And I actually felt like “oh my god. This is like…”

And a guy came. Peter Kain actually came up on the side of me. He slowed down, got on the side of me. He kind of saw that I was really starting to struggle. And he goes “let’s breathe together.” and Wow.

Okay, so we’re running in rhythm and we’re breathing together, and I don’t know something just popped in me. And then I hit the zone. I caught up and I was right on Youngblood’s heels man for the rest of that day. I don’t know, some energy just released. And because I was focusing on my breath and not focusing on anything else. And that showed me the power and the potential… That you know when we think we can’t make it you just gotta find a way to access that reserve energy.

We have it. How do you access it? And for me the breath was the key, you know?

Mark: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I agree. There’s so much going on there. Let’s talk a little bit about the qualities of the breath and different ways it affects us physiologically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually.

You use the term “conscious breathing.” what does that mean – “conscious breathing?”

Well, I use it in comparison to breath awareness. Breath awareness is like mindfulness training. You’re observing the breath. You’re doing what the Buddha did when he became enlightened, right? Just witnessing the breath – not controlling it, not breathing in any special way – so I call that breath awareness as opposed to conscious breathing.

Which is where we take over. We breathe in a certain pattern. We breathe with certain intention. We give the breathing a certain quality. We regulate. We control the breath.

So conscious breathing for me, that’s that active part of breathwork, the passive part is breath awareness, the active part is conscious breathing.

Mark: Breath awareness is something you’re doing with your mind. Conscious breathing is something you’re doing with your breath.

Dan: Yeah and you’re the witness. You’re the observer. You’re sensing, you’re coming into the present moment. It’s like meditative awareness, you could say. It’s mindfulness training and using the breath to focus and center. Bring the mind into the present moment.

And there are many other ways to do that. I think when you use the breath, you get extra benefits that you wouldn’t get if you were meditating on a candle, or repeating a mantra, or other methods of meditation. So it is meditation but it comes with some bonuses.

And conscious breathing is where we’re not passive. Now we’re the active participant in the process. And what excites me about that is that every psychological state, every emotional state, every physiological state has a corresponding breathing pattern. And we already know that when we’re peaceful and calm, our breathing is different than when we’re upset and anxious.

And the magic is it’s a two-way street. So you control the breath, you can control your state and that opens up all kinds of stuff. We get a handle on things that we might not have thought that we could do anything about. We can hack into our brain. We can hack into our nervous system.

And so that part of it is exciting. And I don’t think that’s an accident that the breathing is totally automatic and it’s completely under our control. That’s not an accident of nature, that’s not a coincidence.

No, that’s an opportunity. That’s an invitation for us to take part in our own nature our own evolution.

Mark: I love that. Yeah, I agree with that. So unconscious breathing is just… Your body will keep your… Your brain will keep you alive by just automatically triggering breath. But when we become aware, then we…

Dan: For survival…

Mark: Yeah, for survival right. And most people are in that survival mode, to be fair. They’re just kind of getting through things and they don’t have time to worry about the breath, because they’re in that survival mechanism.

But when you can step into a place where you have the great fortune of taking responsibility for your evolution – so you either have an awakening, or you’re in a time and place where it’s plausible and you have an awakening. Because, to be fair, between you and me, if you and I were in Syria and we were worried about our next meal or our next firefight, then… And we hadn’t had you know the training of a Navy SEAL, then doing breath consciousness training is probably the farthest thing from our mind you know what I mean? And unfortunately a large percentage of humanity is there.

Dan: Until someone tries to take it away from you. Until you have difficulty with it, and then you suddenly find the time and the interest in doing something.

So I’ve got something about breathing too – you know I think there are two key motivators -like, desperation. You get to the point where you just can’t go one more minute living a certain way.

And then on the other side – and that motivates people to finally do something – and the other side is inspiration. When you have some kind of an amazing experience that just changes everything about how you look at life and look at yourself.

And that’s the motivation I try to create in people with the breath. Because you can breathe in certain ways and you can create an experience for yourself that is remarkable. And life-changing. And consciousness altering. And it motivates you to see what else can I do? How far can I go with this? What else is possible?

Mark: Yeah, I love that. And for people who are new to breathwork, those types of experiences are real heart-openers so to speak – I was gonna say eye-opener, but it’s more like a heart-opener. And – like you said – can be the beginning of a whole spiritual practice.

Dan: Yeah. For people who aren’t spiritual, they suddenly find themselves going “wait a minute. How do I talk about this experience?” and they have to borrow language from the spiritual, religious world, you know, to describe, to try to point to what it is that they experience. I love that. I love being with somebody who has this mind-blowing, heart-opening experience and their struggle… You can see their mind is struggling to try to find a context for it. You know, just enjoy it, just feel it, just relax into it. Call it what you like.

Mark: Right. Don’t get wrapped up in the semantics.

Relax and Control


Mark: So for someone who’s listening who hasn’t done – we call it breath empowerment, we do them at the end of our trainings – 45 minutes of constant, fairly intense breath. And I’ve done a really nice extended breath training with you. And these experiences… There’s a lot going on right? There’s the physiological effect, there’s the mental, the intuitive. What can be characterized as a spiritual experience.

So what’s your take on what’s happening here for someone who’s like “I don’t really know what you’re talking about Mark: I’ve never experienced that.”

Dan: Yeah. For me the most spiritual people I’ve ever met have been the most conscious. And the most conscious people I’ve ever met, have been the most spiritual. So maybe there’s no difference between being conscious and being spiritual. I mean, I think at a time in history or in the past – and still in the animal kingdom – like, who survives? The strong and the fast.

And that worked ok until “smart” came along and then it didn’t matter how fast or how strong you were. Smart is who survived. But now I mean hey some of the worst crap happening on the planet is being perpetrated by incredibly smart people. And so strong, fast and smart isn’t enough anymore. I think now and into the future, who is the most conscious? That’s who’s gonna survive.

And so I think this work is about raising our consciousness – expanding our consciousness… I don’t wanna sound like I come from the ’60s, but it’s kind of that movement of awakening to potential that we have for the next higher level of being. I think every moment in life we have an opportunity to express something higher about ourselves.

Mark: Right. And how do we qualify or quantify – that’s where I was gonna go. You know, I’m listening to this and I’m a tech entrepreneur – at Google or let’s say Facebook is a better example – and I’m conscious. So how are you gonna qualify or quantify that you’re more conscious than I am. And I think that my tech is… I don’t care really what it’s doing to the world because it’s people’s responsibility and how they use it.

Dan: Yeah. Well, I think it’s a certain state. And it’s like kind of finding your balance. Actually I tell people that you verbalized it quite beautifully for me. I remember in our session in your studio back there at the training center – I was trying to introduce the relaxation element into the exhale. And so control the inhale, but then just let the exhale go. Control the inhale, let the exhale be reflexive.

And I remember when you sat up in that session – I’m paraphrasing – but you said “man, I really got it. So the control is about power and the relaxation is about peace. And that combination of peace and power I think it makes you the most dangerous guy on the battlefield, right? You’re completely energized and charged, you’re wide awake and alert and yet you’re perfectly calm and relaxed. Usually we lose one for the other, we trade one for the other and I think that’s the sweet sauce. How do you combine powerful, energized state with a very calm, centered and relaxed state? And when you got both of those pieces, when you don’t give up one for the other. And you’re gonna both in play capacities emerge or are able to express.

And so we duplicate that in the breathing.

Mark: Both of those qualities have expansion to them, right? You can look at like a master martial artist and say the quality of focus has expanded so much that he can penetrate another… Let’s say an attacker and know his thoughts or her thoughts.

Ooh, that’s interesting. So you can say “well, that’s expanded capacity.” I get that. Consciousness is expanded.

But then the awareness part is the equal and opposite energy to where if that expands – while he’s knowing the mind of his attacker, he can experience someone walking into the room thirty yards behind him. And know whether that’s a friend or a foe. That’s the experience of expanded consciousness from a martial arts perspective. Or a warrior perspective. Fascinating.

Dan: Yeah, it is. You know those magic-eye… It’s like a photo, a picture and it’s got these random geometric shapes. But if you focus two feet in front of the picture or two feet behind it – this 3D image pops up, right? You’ve seen those?

Mark: Uh-huh. Yeah.

Dan: So we do something with our vision and suddenly something that’s there appears to us. It’s there all the time, but we didn’t quite know how to focus in a way to bring it out. And I think that spirituality is something like that. Only it’s on the feeling level.

And see I think the way it works is that breathing awakens body intelligence. And breathing awakens heart intelligence. And when you add that to mind intelligence I think you’ve reached this spiritual kind of zone. You’re not being driven by your head. You’re not just following your primal gut kind of feelings. And you’re not just totally into your heart.

You got all three mind intelligence, heart intelligence, body intelligence. And when all those things wake up, we enter a certain state that you can’t enter if you’re just relying on your head.

Mark: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and not just wake up, but also integrate and work in harmony. As opposed to in opposition. They’re in opposition… Let’s say when the intellect is going to try to dominate the heart or the gut, or interpret instead of engage those emotions and those intuitive signals, right?

Dan: Yeah. And you know you know that book “Stealing Fire” – Kotler and I forget…

Mark: Jamie Wheal.

Dan: Right. I mean that acronym they got STIR a sense of selflessness, timelessness richness of information and something you can only call like a spiritual experience. I mean, breathing just turns that experience on in people. And it happened so quick it’s almost like cheating, you know.

Mark: (laughing) no, it’s our normal state. It’s our gift, right? Everybody should be doing this or using this.

Dan: Yeah and another piece of it, more and more is about relaxation. I mean and really relaxing. Like I’ve been playing a lot with Stig Severinsen. Have you met Stig?

Mark: Oh yeah, I’ve met Stig. In fact I feel kind of bad. I’m glad you brought him up, I wanted to shout out to Stig, because he came through Carlsbad and he was trying to get a hold of me, you know? I was out of town, but I got a bunch of calls and texts from my team saying Stig was wanting to come by and do some work. I didn’t see him unfortunately.

He’s got like a twenty one minute breath-hold, which is extraordinary.

Dan: Yeah. Twenty-two minutes and ten seconds.

Mark: Yeah. Which most people don’t think is possible, but that’s the power of the breath right?

Dan: And especially recently, more and more, I’m realizing the power of relaxation. And Stig and I have been playing with this and talking about it a lot. That it’s not just a matter of being relaxed or not relaxed. There are levels of relaxation, right? And I point out a really interesting phenomenon, the average person’s reaction to relaxation is sleep. So it’s like if I relaxed and I relax more and I relax more pretty soon I’m sleeping. And so when I thought about that I realized, that means that we are literally fast asleep during the most relaxed moments of our lives. We’ve never even been awake to experience that relaxation. And the first time someone is wide awake and profoundly relaxed, a certain state dawns on them and they can only talk about it in spiritual language. It’s a very natural state, but for some reason it’s very rare. We have the kind of consciousness that’s so busy and so active that our body can’t really relax until it shuts us off.

So nature shuts our head off every night so the body can recover. But if we could quiet our mind and then relax and relax and be awake at the same time when these profound relaxed states… It feels like a peak religious experience.

And that’s what I’m trying to move people to more and more. Because it’s a very natural state, and it’s a simple state. But we have to do something, we have to quiet our mind and we have to be able to relax a little more than we normally do. And I found in my work in psychotherapy – I’m not a psychotherapist – but breath work is so therapeutic that you can’t help but be helping people deal with these kind of psychotherapeutic issues when we’re playing with their breath.

And if you can relax in a moment when you never could relax before, something is possible for you that was never possible before. It’s not complicated. But there’s a certain point beyond which we can’t relax. Because if we relax into that point, all this crap from our subconscious that we’ve tucked away is going to come up and muck up our waking consciousness. So most people are putting a lot of psychic energy into keeping certain things down in their subconscious. And breathing has a way of unlocking that.

You know, our subconscious mind is like a high-security prison. And as soon as you approach the walls, flags go up, alarms go off, guards head to the towers.

And so, when you breathe and relax to a certain point you unlock all that subconscious material. And at that point you need the breathing and the relaxation skills to manage it, and process it, and navigate it.

And it’s quite exciting when it happens, because a lot of energy is liberated. Energy that went into suppressing emotions and stopping early memories. That takes a lot of energy. And when that stuff is finally released, all that energy is liberated. And you feel more alive. You’re more creative. You don’t have to sleep as much.

And so I’m always looking for what’s the most benefit we can get from breathing? Yeah you can get rid of your headaches. Fantastic. You can lower your blood pressure. Okay. You can deal with fatigue and pain – all great uses of working with the breath.

But I’m always like after what’s the maximum potential here in this moment and in this situation? Let’s keep leaning in that direction.

And I have to be honest, I use that. You really planted a seed in me about… I’ve always been part of the school like pushing yourself through fears and I can remember you… I don’t know if you said it, read it, somewhere you don’t have to push yourself through your fears, but you gotta lean into them. Oh my god, man. That is a game changer. That was a game changer for me, and I’ve been using it with just about everybody I’m working with. So I owe you a great debt of thanks for that little something. And it just… Oh yeah.

Mark: No charge.

Dan: (laughing) thank you.

Mark: There’s so much. Like. I love to look at… You were aware that our training at Unbeatable Mind has the five mountains. And the reason we do that is because ultimately our belief is that when the human being operates out of what we call whole mind integration. Then they’re going to be a be able to perform at their peak, they’re going to also be able to the most present, peaceful, compassionate and caring human being possible.

And ultimately that state will access and lead to an evolution to a permanent state of world-centric care and concern – where all of humanity, all sentient beings are part of this interconnected web of life and every breath is experienced as love. And so that’s really kind of a high level look.

But in order to teach that – in order to explain it and teach it because we have these minds that need to need to name and to categorize things – we say “okay, at least what we’ll do is we’ll chunk it down in these five aspects of humanity or what it means to be human. This physical structure – physical body we have. The mental machinations of our mind. The emotional aspect of our mind/body. The intuitive aspects – which now starting to get into kind of spirituality – but the intuitive felt sense which includes trans-rational or picking up signals from the outside – like a Navy SEAL on the battlefield. And then Kokoro which is what happens… What’s the experience when we are integrated? And then we align with our purpose or what Buddha would say our Dharma or calling in life.

Those are the five mountains. Now we can look at the breath – I think it’d be fun to look at the breath from the perspective of those five mountains, because it really helps people understand kind of how the breath is such an integrating tool when you look at it as a practice. As well as how it permeates all five of those aspects of our being. In one sense you can look at those five aspects – it’s kind of like our Russian nesting doll – you go through the physical to get to the mental, you go through the mental to get the emotional, you go through or use the emotional to experience the intuitive.

And the breath is your conductor on the train journeying through these… Or up these five mountains, you know?

Dan: It’s the principle that literally connects… I mean, it connects the mind to the body. And it connects the subconscious mind to the conscious mind. And it connects us to each other so breathing gives people a felt experience of our connection. So it’s not just philosophical or intellectual, it’s like you get a biological experience. You get a cellular experience gonna that’s so real.

It’s not philosophy or intellect anymore. It’s a felt sense of connection and it makes hurting… How can I do violence on someone else, if I feel my connection to them? I’m hurting myself. And I think people they need to feel that connection. Once we feel that the human connection a lot of problems fall away.

You know Joshua Mantz, right? And his amazing story, being shot and killed. And after he survived all the physical part of it, he realized he went six, seven years never really doing the emotional and spiritual healing of that.

He recovered the other way, and when he finally did you know get through that emotional and spiritual healing, his great insight was that the human connection. That’s the ultimate healer is human connection.

And if we can’t feel it how can you make use of it? You have to actually be able to feel it. And breathing – whether you want to or not – you end up feeling it.

Mark: Right. I love this. On this point – one of the obvious, but felt experience insights I had – was ultimately we’re all breathing the same breath. And so when you inhale and I inhale, we’re inhaling life. We’re inhaling awareness. We are inhaling consciousness. It is our mind, and body, and emotions that prevent us from experiencing the fullness of awakened awareness, connection, love, right?

And so essentially we’re in our own way, because with every single breath, we have the possibility of experiencing enlightenment.

Dan: Yeah. To transcend the body/mind system.

Mark: Transcend. Every single breath.

Dan: Yeah. Talk about a lot of opportunities. Like, life just keeps giving us another one and another one.

Mark: And, Dan, where I was also going with that is you’re… The only thing that’s going to change your experience of enlightened awareness and connection and care as a human being versus mine is also your brain and mind, right? And context, right? Cause you’re gonna contextualize things a certain way. And your language is going to cause you to describe it or think about it in a certain way.

But to be fair – and all spiritual traditions say this – your consciousness is the same as my consciousness. And that’s what really connects us. That’s this… You know, the Holy Ghost is what we breathe in. And then our spiritual center is really the same.

Dan: Yeah, we’re all sucking on the same bubble of air on this planet. It literally connects us.

Mark: And it’s more than air, to be fair

Dan: It is, yeah, and that’s where I think you’re right. It’s all the body/mind system that is the problem. That’s what we need to master, get over, navigate… I look at every thought like from a meditative perspective. Every thought is a wave in consciousness. And every feeling and sensation is a wave in consciousness and every emotion…

Mark: Or it’s a particle. The Tibetan view is that it’s a particle and the yoga view is that it’s a wave. And equally valid – both perspectives are equally valid.

Dan: And maybe they’re the same. And so, if I have a feeling in my body, that sends a wave in my consciousness. And then if I have a mental reaction to that feeling, that’s another wave. And then that mental reaction and that physical discomfort, creates another emotion, that’s another wave.

And then my consciousness it’s not clear. It’s not calm. I can’t depend on it. Not until the water’s… I like this analogy about water. Water has two interesting properties – it’s transparent, and it’s reflective.

But only if the water is pure. Only if the water is still. And that’s the kind of consciousness we need to develop – is a kind of consciousness that’s pure and still. And as long as we are bombarded by feelings and sensations and emotions and as long as our mind is busy its waves on the surface. It’s reflective so I can see myself reflected in the water as long as the water is calm. And so we have to do the work of calming our own inner waters, so we can open our doors of perception. And then a lot of things that are right in front of us and have been right in under our nose our whole life suddenly open up to go “holy cow. How could I have missed that my whole life?

Mark: That’s awesome.

Still Water Runs Deep


Mark: I love that. And you know what I think that gives us a practice. So you know that one of – or maybe you don’t – but one of our core practices that includes the breath but also imagery is “still water runs deep.” and so what I think it’d be fun to do is I’ll do a brief intro where I bring people into the Stillwater pond and then you will pick up with the breath awareness or breath consciousness training. How does that sound? And so we’ll combine this idea of water as a beautiful metaphor for conditioning your mind and your emotional state – it’s almost – it’s not a hack, but it’s a practice to get it to be settled and clear and deep.

And then from there we can do some real work. So if you’re driving, maybe do this at home.

Dan: (laughing) Pull over.

Mark: And if you can, close your eyes. If not soften, your gaze and begin to breathe deeply through your nose. Gently allowing your belly to fall out or relax on the inhale and then you know just gently pressing in on the exhale. Make sure you’re getting a full lung there.

And now mentally you see yourself walking along this beautiful path and this is in your mental sanctuary – we call it your sacred training place. It’s a beautiful place. It’s completely pristine and nobody can go here besides you. It’s your happy place.

And you’re walking along a stream. And you see that stream open up into this broad pond and it’s a beautiful pond, crystal clear not a not a ripple on the water. And it’s turquoise blue, about 12 feet deep.

And it’s beckoning you in. Its warm to the touch and you walk in – you’re around your ankles, and then you’re around your shins. And now you’re at your knees. And you’re walking in at your waist now. And then you just lay down and you begin to just breaststroke over to the center, and roll over onto your back.

And it’s a beautiful day. The sun shining down. You feel the warmth of the sun in your face. And you see the clouds. And now knowing that this is like hyper-oxygenated water in this training space – you can breathe underneath it – you just allow yourself to sink.

As you settle beneath the surface of the water you’re sinking down. You see some bubbles kind of floating up off your clothes. You see the rays of the sun filtering through. And you’re going down deeper and deeper.

And you feel it getting a little cooler. It’s very comfortable, but as you go deeper your mind is clearing. Your emotions are clearing. And what you’re experiencing is just this deep stillness and that’s the still water that runs deep. And you settle on the bottom and you begin to do some conscious breathing.

Dan: And so the breathing mantra is open and expand – that’s the inhale. And relax and let go – that’s the exhale. So very consciously in your breathing feel yourself opening and expanding, side to side, top to bottom, front to back. You take your time and you breathe in. It’s like drinking very expensive wine. It’s like taking in your favorite scent. You want it to last you want to linger with it. You wanna enjoy it.

So don’t rush the inhale. And when the breath comes in, it wants to open and stretch us and so we relax around it. And the breath is a very good dance partner, because when we open it and expand the breath fills whatever spaces that we open in ourselves. So we’re opening and expanding, softly, gently, fully on the inhale.

Then we’re relaxing and letting go so we snap the exhale loose. We release the exhale. We let it go. We don’t control it – we just snap it loose and we relax even more on the exhale. And then try not to disturb that relaxation when you breathe in. Don’t use any muscles you don’t have to. No sense of urgency, no force, no effort. It’s an ease, it’s a softening it’s an opening and it’s an expanding, it’s an inviting. And the breath fills us.

And then you snap it loose and you relax even more. Then you can start to use these exhales to go deeper into yourself, into your source, into your center. There’s a place inside of us that’s never been touched by anything that has happened in this world. It’s impervious. It can’t be influenced, it can’t be affected – even we cannot affect that place in us. And as we breathe and relax we’re moving towards that place. And it’s a pure place. It’s an original place. It’s before all of our shocks or traumas. It’s before the names and the labels and the shoulds and the should nots. And the musts and the must nots. And the us-and-them. It’s just beyond all that.

And the more we open and expand and the more we relax the more we start taking on the qualities of this space. And we want to very consciously and deliberately use our ability to envision, to imagine, to generate beautiful thoughts, beautiful feelings, beautiful emotions. What are the most beautiful words anyone could speak to you? Speak those words to yourself. What’s the most beautiful image that you can conjure up? Bathe in that image. Because the ruthless truth is, if we’re feeling sad, it’s because we’re generating the energy of sadness. If we’re feeling anger, it’s because we’re generating the energy of anger. And the same thing for joy and love and peace.

These aren’t states that we go out and try to seek and find. These are energies that we generate in ourselves. And then express them in whatever way our current level of development or evolution allows us to.

So what’s the maximum potential for this moment? What’s my higher self…? What advice does it have? What do I need to remember? What do I need to remind myself of? What’s really important that we can forget and lose track of in our day-to-day busy-ness and return to that? It’s like drinking from a well.

Frees our soul. Frees our heart. Energizes our body. Clears and quiets our mind. Allows us to have a light experience. And we’re not just breathing air, we’re breathing energy we’re breathing light, we’re breathing life. We should use our childlike imaginations and make that as real an experience as possible. Every breath is a blessing. And if we can remember that, every moment of our life we’re blessed. And you can make every breath a prayer. You attach an intention to the breath, and you breathe that intention. You use the breath to generate… If courage is important, you’re generating the energy of courage with the inhale. If patience is important… If compassion is important… If love, balance, harmony.

If you can give it a name or label, you hold that in consciousness and then you feed it breath and it gets more and more alive, more and more real.

So we must have the most beautiful sigh of relief that we can and make it as delicious and luxurious as possible. And squeeze all the juice you can out of an exaggerated Shakespearean sigh of relief.

Pretend you’re in ecstasy. Your brain won’t know the difference between a real or an imagined experience after a few minutes of persisting with a certain focus and certain quality. We all have the power. We all have abilities more than we’re expressing. We know that.

And what if the breath is a way for us to tap those untapped resources? What if the breath is a way for us to awaken these latent potentials? Higher human capacities in us? What if it’s that simple?

Mark: You’re on the bottom of the pond. It’s time to come out. Put your hands over your heart and you just begin to float back to the surface, as you continue to breathe and sigh. Experience the bliss, the ecstasy of the breath. And this calm, deeply felt sense of worthiness, wholeness. You belong here. You have important work to do. You are a loving and lovable human being. And you are whole. Experiencing that still water that runs deep inside you.

As you come and you break the surface, you take a deep breath of the fresh air. Feel the sunlight on your face and you roll over and swim to the side of the pond. And you begin to walk out. Soon you’re back on terra firma, completely dry. Feeling better than you’ve ever felt in your life. And you just walk on out of this beautiful, sacred training place – your sanctuary.

And when you’re ready, open your eyes and commit to carrying this experience back into the busy-ness. Hooyah.



That was beautiful, Dan:

Dan: Oh, I love it. Relaxation is half the work, you know? Hey, life is supposed to be about joy, about ecstasy, about delight, about peace… If we don’t take time to actually touch on those emotions and those energies, then who’s gonna do it for us?

And you know when you feel wonderful you end up doing really good things.

Mark: Yeah, your performance will go through the roof. Awesome.

Well, I could do that for another hour, but maybe it’ll have to be another podcast, I guess. Thank you, Dan.

Your book is “Just Breathe.” everybody who’s listening and if you enjoyed that experience, go buy Dan’s book. “Just Breathe.” and he’s got a website where he’ll offer you a 21 day breath challenge. Where you can begin… Every day you’ll have a different… What are some of the exercises that you offer?

Dan: Yeah, well, box-breathing is among them. The triangle breath. I like to start people with the triangle breath – inhale, exhale, pause. That’s nature’s way of breathing when we’re sitting at rest. And so when we breathe in that way, we’re aligning with our nature. We’re coming into harmony with our nature.

So I have people play with that triangle. Grow the triangle. Maybe one way longer than the other. Lengthen the legs. So that inhale, exhale, pause… Inhale, exhale, pause… And just do that consciously. And do it at a pace that’s really enjoyable.

We also take away the pause and we do circular breathing, connected breathing, continuous breathing. So you just give yourself the sense that a wheel is turning in and out. No pauses, no gaps. And get into a smooth, continuous, circular rhythmic flow. That is so powerful.

Mark: I love that. That’s like our tactical breath. Same thing.

Dan: Yeah. Exactly.

Mark: Awesome.

Well, Dan, thank you for doing what you do. And thank you for your friendship. And I really enjoyed breathing with you. I know everyone else who was listening to this did.

And if you didn’t do it because you’re driving, then go back home and do that part.

Dan: And breathe with people you love, you know? People who breathe together they connect at a very deep level. Breathe with the people who love. Synchronize your breathing. It’s a simple, simple thing – but boy when people’s breathing synchronizes a lot of other things about them synchronize. So make use of that too.

Mark: It’s true. We breathe at our company before every important meeting for five minutes or so. It’s very powerful.

Dan: You’re enlightened brother. It’s an honor to know you. Honest to god, I tell people, you gotta have someone in your life who’s got a real head on their shoulders. Got real guts. Real cojones, and a big heart.

That’s you, Mark. I just love it. Thank you so much for what you’re doing in the world.

Mark: Thanks, Dan. I appreciate that. I appreciate you too.

All right, well like I said we can sit here and do this forever, but we got to get going here and I gotta let you go too. You probably have a seminar run or go do some breathing.

Dan: I do.

Mark: All right. Well good luck with that. And come by when you’re in San Diego.

Dan: Definitely. Yeah, really thank you everyone who’s listening. It’s not an accident you’re here. Practice. Practice.

Mark: Yeah, practice. Don’t let the breath rule you and the mind rule you. Practice and take control and then that’s the first step to allowing your whole being to expand and fill up the space that used to be filled with “doing stuff.”

All right.

Dan: All right, brother. Thank you so much.

Mark: Thanks, Dan. Love you. You take care.

All right everyone. Wow that was special.

Thanks, Dan Brulé. Check out his book “Just Breathe” and go to for that 21 day challenge. And thank you for your support and for supporting this podcast. I just learned – I don’t even track this stuff – but I just learned that we were the number one rated podcast in iTunes in the health category. How freakin’ cool is that?

And that’s because you guys listen and we have amazing guests like Dan Brulé. So it’s humbling. This podcast has been very humbling and cool experience for me and I hope it continues to be so for you. So thanks for your support.

Stay focused and breathe. See you next time.

Divine out.


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