In his book “The Breakout Principle“, Harvard Medical School professor Herbert Benson asserts that most of our big epiphanies and insights are preceded by:
- A phase of strong mental and physical exertion
- A phase of relaxation, where you release the mind and let it roam freely.
Benson discovered that the phase of relaxation seems to be accompanied by the release of nitric oxide (NO), a powerful neurotransmitter.
Among other things, nitric oxide improves cellular oxygen uptake, is a vasodilator and muscle relaxer, and improves cardiovascular health.
Benson goes as far as saying nitric oxide may be “the biochemical foundation for the relaxation response” and the catalyst for the “breakout” (= the insight or epiphany).
When I read about Nitric Oxide in Benson’s book, I realized I had heard about Nitric Oxide in a different context (the Where Else Principle at work): pranayama, a yogic breathing practice. In his book The Illuminated Breath, Yoga teacher Dylan Werner mentions the same health benefits of nitric oxide, and adds that it’s made in the lining of the blood vessels, nasal cavity, and in the paranasal sinus.
He also mentions we can increase production of nitric oxide by breathing slowly through the nose (so there’s more air exchange in the sinuses and nasal cavity).
What’s more: a certain type of yogic breathing, bhramari pranayama or humming bee breath, can increase the production of nitric oxide fifteen fold because it increases the air vibration, and thus air exchange in the sinuses and nasal cavity.
That’s right: fifteen times more nitric oxide from a simple humming breath practice.
Seems like my daily bhramari pranayama practice is the perfect way to relax the body, the, mind, and create the perfect conditions for those new insights to emerge.
That’s why I am sculpting away, day by day, humming my way through life… and the insights always seem to follow.
Now I know why.