Our autumn issue is out now. In this issue we chat to Dan Brulé, pioneer in the field of breathwork. Dive on in to find out more…
Back to the breath
Meet a master in Dan Brulé
by Alison McEvoy
Breath-work became a path for me for life. It’s a life path, a personal development, a spiritual path.
Dan Brulé has led an extraordinary life. Throughout the many twists and turns his life has taken thus far, the breath has been a constant thread following and accompanying him. In his own words, it seems that no matter where he turned, “everything kept sticking my nose back into the breath.”
He is the author of several books on the breath, and is breath coach and trainer to many elites in their field such as Olympic athletes, martial artists, medical experts and peak performers. His has been a deeply experiential journey with the breath. After he left school, working as an x-ray technician, the breath began “speaking to me”.
After taking thousands of x-rays he began to realise that “a person’s relationship to their breath is a perfect reflection of their connection and relationship to their body, to life and to the world.” Later, working in underwater demolition involving deep-sea diving, Dan realised that he needed to learn to manage his emotions and heart rate and hey presto, “I’m back to the breath.” Dan’s work now is to bring all those of us who are willing, back to the breath and guide us how to stay there. “Breathwork became a path for me for life. It’s a life path, a personal development, a spiritual path. And it’s very practical in shitstorms, as they say.”
BREATHING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
“When you learn breathing from the inside out, the rewards are eternal.” Learning from the inside out means that Dan asks questions of us, rather than giving us techniques or answers. He asks us to go inside and feel into the body to find the answers. The reason for this approach is that we are each unique beings even as we share in our humanity. As such, there is no “one size fits all.” “I’ve always been an exception. And I can’t be the only exception…standard instructions are useful but they don’t always work for me which means we need to find our own way…So rather than breath back to the teaching people a single technique, I teach people the fundamentals and to trust their intuition in putting those fundamentals together, whereby you customise your own practice. What’s better than that?”
When it comes to answering the question of ‘which is the best breathing technique to practice’, Dan answers with a number of questions which require us to introspect, to practice and feel into the response of our bodies, and to decipher, accept and trust the answers our bodies so willingly offer us through sensation and subtle feeling:
1. What breathing practice makes you more conscious, mindful and aware?
2. Which breathing practice allows you to relax on demand, anytime, anywhere?
3. Which breathing practice energises you when you feel exhausted and uninspired? These are the practices to use and if there is one which does all three, then you’ve hit gold, says Dan. “I try to invent breathing techniques and exercises that feed all of those three things; that make me more conscious, improve my ability to relax and my ability to create energy. I see that as my job and my approach.”
NATURE AND INTUITION
When learning from the inside out, we are learning from our own inner nature. Dan learned about the power of the ‘sigh of relief’ from the inside out. By remaining awake with the breath, aware of what it is doing and how it is fluctuating, Dan realised that, “We take a sigh of relief about every five minutes…[it’s] a spontaneous, uncontrolled, expansive inhale…and it feels good. Most people are not catching it but… if you’re awake in that moment and you experience it, you meditate on the details of that breath and then you copy it. You try to do it again exactly the way nature did it and now you’re coming into harmony with nature…We have to take our cue from nature.
Do what nature is already doing.” When the sigh happens, it reflects a change in our state. It happens naturally and reflects a shift from pain to no pain, or fear to no fear. The sigh of relief mirrors this release of pain or fear. When we combine the fruits of awareness of natural occurrences with the creativity of our intuition, the learning has the potential to explode out in all directions. From one tiny observation can grow a whole set of learning and abilities.
When it comes to the example of the sigh of relief, Dan’s intuition (inner teacher) surfaced the question into his mind: “What if I just do that breath on purpose? Can I change my state? And so I found a trigger…I had a way then from any other state of fear or chaos…I had a way to put myself into the most resourceful state.” “When you learn to do that with the breath, then you can attach that to a muscle and when you release the breath, the muscle relaxes. Or you can attach it to a thought or a fear. When you release the breath, then the thought fades or the fear releases.”
THE TABLE OF THE TEACHER
When it comes to evolving through the experience and practice of breath-work, what you bring to the table to the teacher is as important as what s/he has laid out on the table for you to learn. You must bring the inner resources of intention, committent and awareness. When you arrive with these, you do so in a state of ‘readiness’: “If you’re not ready it doesn’t matter how good your teacher is. On the other hand, any teacher will help you…any book will have the answer, any technique will work…because of your readiness.” The teacher too, says Dan, is on the learning ladder and there is always “someone to teach, someone to learn from.”
MAKE A START
So, if after reading this article you feel inspired to take another step forward from whatever rung of the ladder you are on, Dan has some final words for you: “It’s said you need 10,000 hours to master anything, so start logging those hours. At some point, you’ll graduate! Liberty, enlightenment…something’s going to happen.” “Your daily practice doesn’t have to be big but it must be continuous and integrated into your life.” Dan’s favourite invented formula is 10 + 10 + (10×2). In the morning, practice 10 minutes of your chosen exercise/technique. 10 minutes in the evening and ten times during the day for two minutes each. Those two minutes can be while you are in the car at a traffic light, or while you are chopping veg – integrate them into your life. Dan’s book ‘Just Breathe’ is a wonderful companion to your breathing journey as you can share in the invention and mastery of a man with unparalleled experience.
Find out more about Dan and his work at: breathmastery.com