The Diaphragm: Master Key to Breathwork

The neuroscience behind mindfulness

Why is it that simply paying conscious attention to breathing is so powerful?

No matter what culture, religion, or spiritual tradition you examine–this is in most, if not all of them. This 11-minute audio is from last night’s FaceBook Live hangout. Included is an excerpt from Dr. Dan Siegel‘s “Creating Harmony With Breath Awareness.”

Included is an excerpt from “Creating Harmony With Breath Awareness,” by Dr. Dan Siegel, Co-Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA. A leader in the field of contemplative neuroscience, Dr. Siegel explains:

Mindfulness involves attuning to our own intention. Of course, mindfulness itself is an intentional state, so we could say that this creates the following tongue twister: An intention to pay attention to intention to be mindful. This appears to be a reentry loop of mental reinforcement that lies at the heart of the experience. Intention to attend to intention.

An example of this kind of intrapersonal attunement would be the practice of breath awareness. You are aware of your in-breath. The mirror neuron (a neuron that fires both when a person performs an action and when the person observes the same action performed by another) and superior temporal areas (which play a significant role in the executive attention network of the brain) as a part of the resonance circuits, automatically—through SIMA (sensory implications of motor action)—anticipate the out-breath.

With a beat of time, the out-breath indeed comes and there is a match between what was anticipated and what is happening. That matching creates coherence. Naturally the awareness of the out-breath entrains an anticipation of the in-breath, which when it comes, integrates SIMA with here-and-now awareness and reflective coherence is created. This may be why the breath is such a powerful, and common, focus of mindful awareness. It is also interesting to note that each relaxed half breath takes about the interval D. N. Stern (The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life. New York: W. W. Norton, 2003) defines as the present moment.

New resilience-building class!

Breath-centered Practices for Resilience

WHY: If you want to master stress rather than escape it, this class is for you. From world leaders to homemakers, from cyber-citizens to those living off the grid, resilience training can make the difference between mere survival and thriving, between being stressed out by the daily tempest and surfing the tempest like a master. If you want to create a stronger inner gyroscope–with less wobble, this class is definitely for you.

WHAT: A short yoga practice to prepare the body for breathwork and meditation. Breath and meditation techniques for building mental and emotional resilience. This is not a traditional pranayama class; we will combine ancient techniques with cutting-edge research from the military and law enforcement.

WHERE: Sky House Yoga in Silver Spring, Maryland

WHEN: Mondays 7:40-8:40pm

FIRST CLASS: March 20, 2017

WHO: Joseph R. Roberson (my contact email is:

Please give to BreathCon2015 scholarship fund!

As a rule, I never post requests for my personal gain. This is an exception. You will gain from this, too. That is my intention, at least. And you’ll be supporting a truly worthy cause. Oh, yeah, and there are some amazing perks for anyone contributing $20 or more!

I hereby request that you make a donation–even if it is for only $1–to our scholarship campaign for BreathCon2015 (Breath Immersion Conference: From Science to Samadhi). When given at the beginning of a campaign, even a $1 donation helps build momentum by demonstrating broad support for the cause. It encourages others to give when there are a lot of people giving, no matter how large the contribution.

I am requesting this as a personal favor because I am one of those who need this scholarship money. I do not have the funds to attend. I really want to attend.

If you are a current or former student of mine, you likely know that breath has always been my passion. It is one of my absolute favorite topics to study, to practice, and to teach. While I have stopped teaching for the most part, I do continue with the series of workshops at Sky House Yoga on breath. I am excited to attend this conference and bring back to you what I learn in upcoming workshops.

If you are not a student, perhaps you will want to read my blog posts and articles during (and after) the conference.

Attending the conference will help me finish writing “Transforming Breath.” In it I will compare and contrast two disparate ‘camps’ that study and/or deliver  transformation. One camp is the academic field of Transformative Learning Theory, as expounded by Jack Mezirow. The other camp is the field of therapeutic breathwork, as typified by Dr. Judith Kravitz’ Transformational Breath.

The members of each camp are not even aware of each other’s existence, or so it seems. For members who do speak of the other camp, it is typically to criticize the other: those in the academic camp criticize the lack of intellectual rigor among those participating in so-called spiritual pursuits, such as Transformational Breath or Stan Grof’s Holotropic Breath; those in the breathwork camp criticize the ineffectiveness of cognitive theory without a somatic praxis. Basically, TL theory is criticized for being heartless and the breathwork camp is criticized for lack of rigor.

It should be noted that the breathwork field does embrace medical research, and is thus grounded in sound anatomy and physiology. I am concerned, rather, with the other major aspect of experiential breathwork: transformation. My contention is that whether you call it spiritual growth or transformative learning is more a matter of semantics, of terminology, than of substance. The two camps are saying much the same thing, just in two different languages. What a difference it could make if these two camps incorporated each other’s strengths!

Anyway, that is the best I can do today to explain why I want to attend this conference. Thank you for reading. Thank you for considering my request. Now, get yourself to the IndieGoGo scholarship campaign and make a difference!

P.S., As part of my contribution to the conference, I created this video.

Breath: Science to Samadhi Immersion at Kripalu!

I am happy to be volunteering on the production team for the Breath: Science to Samadhi Immersion at Kripalu! Sounds like an amazing event and I would not miss it. Please let me know if you are interested in attending and/or helping.

“One conscious, optimal breath can transform you and the world. Immerse yourself in the full spectrum of ancient and modern practices that cultivate conscious, optimal breathing. The international faculty is drawn from pioneers in the movement and newly emerging leaders.

This highly experiential, collaborative, and innovative program explores the potential of breath as:
*The unifying language of the human species
*Friend, healer, teacher, lover, awakener
*Guide and nutrient for enhanced relationship resonance, parenting, sexuality, creativity, service, and social activism
*Medicine for physical, emotional, and cognitive imbalance
*The doorway to consciousness and enlightenment.

Breakout sessions cover a variety of breath modalities, offer information on becoming a breathworker, and provide supervision from master breathworkers. Join us for healing, personal growth, spiritual development, enhanced creativity, increased intelligence and wisdom, improved relational harmony, attuned access to intuition, heightened mystical realization, and fully participating in building a healthier world together.

*Note This program is ideal for everyone, including beginners, health professionals interested in incorporating breathwork into their practices, and master breathworkers who want to expand the breadth and depth of their knowledge.