Brain Clarity, Multi-tasking & Wim Hof Breathing

Updated: Aug 2



Last week we had a great lecture by Judith Lewandowski, Ph.D. in our Entrepreneurial Fellowship at the University of Notre Dame ESTEEM program. The focus of the talk incorporated many strategies to maintain balance and avoid the common pitfalls of attempting multitasking. We also drew out how we spent our time for the whole 16 hour day to get a better handle on where we have opportunities for productive time. We did a revealing exercise on the foolishness of trying to do two things at once. Anyone can do this if you go to the YouTube video “switch tasking is a thief." In this video, Dave Crenshaw gives us a simple exercise. First, we write out the phrase “Switch-tasking is a thief” (davecrenshaw.com), and then write out the numbers 1-21 and time yourself for the sum of writing both sets. Most people got a time of 25 to 35 seconds. We then we're given the task to write out the first letter of the phrase followed by the first number in the number set then back to the second letter and then the second number and back-and-forth. This second try resulted in chaos, and most people made many errors and finished in 60+ seconds. This phenomenon is called switch tasking. When we try to read email and messages while doing work with music on that has lyrics that are brain interprets, our mind is continually switching between attention. I was amazed at how many errors our table group made with this relatively simple task. The take away is simple; focus on one thing at a time, do it correct the first time, finish it, and “tie it in a bow” and move on.


On the topic of brain focus, and after the above class, one of my lovely classmates Nick asked if I would show him some Wim Hoff breathing strategies. I have not taken his course, but I've read the Scott Carney book and followed him on the podcast and fellow wellness experts. We then gathered any students that were interested and ultimately had about 25 to 30 eager 20-30 year-olds. My goal was to pass on a tool to achieve better parasympathetic balance, and immediate brain clarity, which served as an excellent natural progression from the multitasking lecture. This 20-minute exercise is my favorite Friday morning interventions when I don't have a scheduled fitness session (Wim Hof Breathing practice - app innerfire.com).


Briefly, this is 30 breaths rapidly in through the nose and collapse out the nose and mouth and then after 30 breaths blow all the air out and hold it while watching your stopwatch. One should then sit still try to relax and overcome the air hunger anxiety that we are wired to demonstrate. As we master this drive to breathe, we strengthen our parasympathetic tone and enhance our rest, digest and relax baseline or idle mode. We repeat this cycle two more times, and the breath-hold gets longer and possibly has a one minute hold, then two minutes and third cycle up to 3-minute hold. At the end of the fourth cycle of 30 breaths, we get in the push-up position and at the final exhale, we then fire off as many push-ups as we can while holding our breath. One gets to that point where the head feels starving for oxygen, and we ultimately stop. One can do a surprising amount push-ups because the rapid breathing blows off CO2 and diminishes lactic acid build up that causes acute soreness. This process can significantly activate mitochondrial function similar to a long, challenging workout but gets it done in 15 to 20 minutes. Once again, the result is a severe brain “clarity buzz," especially if you can do a wall stand and get upside down immediately afterward to flush the brain.


After this 20 minute session, some of the students confessed they had done more push-ups then ever done before. Many felt remarkable clarity and fellowship amongst the brave students that participated and now have a tool to use when they need it. I love being a 60-year-old biohacker hanging out with 25-year-old high-energy future entrepreneurs and assist in their ability to change the world for the better.


Stay Strong and Curious,

And remember to be your own best doctor.

Chuck

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