By Katie Reynolds
You thought you had breathing down? Think again. Don’t just breathe: “Belly breathe.”
Dr. Adrianne Ahern’s book and series of CD’s promote breathing correctly as a way to cut negativity out of your life and move towards success.
Ahern, nicknamed Dr. A, said she operates from the understanding that, “beliefs live in our body, as physical sensations.” Whether it is in the form of a stiff neck or a queasy stomach, daily emotions have an impact on the body. Because of this unity between the mind and the body, Ahern also believes that mental transformation must take place in the body. Her CD, “Beyond Breathing: Key One for Athletic Performance,” guides through a series of shifts between the mind and body, thinking and experience, until they are united as one. The harmony between the mind and body that results allows “clear, calm thinking” and a “still, ready” body, according to the CD. “A lot of people don’t realize the power of breath,” Ahern said. “In life, you can breathe through emotional disturbances.”
Around 30 minutes long, the CD begins with a test of how each individual breathes: shallow and fast, or deep and slow, from the chest or from the belly. It then goes into a step-by-step training of how to “belly breathe” properly. The breathing technique allows you to acknowledge feelings such as doubt, anxiety, or fear, and then belly breathe them out. “We don’t want to feel, we protect by reacting, shutting down, if we could feel the feeling, we could manage it rather than having it overwhelm us, " Ahern said. “Breath is fundamental. It allows you to become aware, and facilitates the healing process.” Ahern claims that people who are able to tap into this method of uniting the mind and body through breath don’t get sick as often, have more energy, and are able to perform at higher levels. Eventually, with use of the program, Ahern says the body and mind will self-regulate, the mind becoming silent so that the body can act.
Ahern can speak from experience as an optimum performer. When she was just 16 years old, she attended UCLA, where she received her Bachelors in Linguistics. It was not until her father got sick, and used a meditative breathing technique to lessen his pain, that her interest in psychology peaked. After he died, she realized she wanted to go back to psychology as a way to give this breathing technique to others. She received a Masters in Counseling Psychology from the University San Francisco, and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from California School of Professional Psychology. She currently splits her time between a home in Reno and one in La Jolla. While she had a clinical practice at Scripps Center for a long time, she left so she could write her book, “Snap Out of it Now!”.
“Snap Out of it Now!” describes an incongruity between who people really are and who they have been conditioned from birth to be. Once people use the book to recognize their conditioned reactions, they gain the ability to take control of their lives. “We live our lives unaware of unconscious conditioning, patterns we don’t realize we take on, " Ahern said. “I help people uncover negative past conditioning.” Ahern stresses that the reason hers is different from other methods is that it is not a quick fix. Rather, she said she is, “Showing people they have a path to healing, if they can find it and uncover it. The answer is within yourself.” Questionnaires and journaling exercises within the book make applying the concepts especially easy.
Ahern’s program is specifically tailored for those who want to achieve optimal performance, whether that is in the sports arena, in a relationship, or as a company executive. Ahern believes that everyone has the potential to be a peak performer, and her program is for “anyone feeling stuck, who doesn’t know how to ‘snap out of it,’ ” she said.
Ahern is currently finishing another book that talks about how to access the characteristics of peak performers. Describing some characteristics of peak performers, she said, “Peak performers are willing to look at things about themselves that the average person is afraid of: in athletics, at work or in relationships.”
Only two of the ten aspects Ahern has identified in peak performance are untrainable: “the insatiable desire for success, and a vision,” Ahern said. “Once most people uncover the unconscious negative conditioning, the vision surfaces, that lights the fire for success.”
Also on a book tour, Ahern continues to treat a few clients in both Reno and San Diego. Ahern says she feels fortunate to help others to, “harness inner power and go after what they really want.”