Toothache and abdominal pain carried an important message

In our society, we have a strong faith in technology, especially we men. There are many different technical solutions to easily show our blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, fitness, blood sugar, sleep quality and so on. When various health parameters are presented digitally on a watch, mobile phone, computer or other device, the chance of us taking it seriously increases. But when we want to get information about our breathing, the supply of information is very sparse or the underlying algorithms are simply too poor to produce a correct result.

Ever since I started with Conscious Breathing in 2009, I have dreamt of a device that, with certainty, could show my clients how they actually breathed. So when I, in 2013, started a collaboration with a professor from Linköping University in Sweden who was in the final phase of developing a product to measure breathing frequency, oxygen saturation and more, I felt success was around the corner.

After 1½ years of development and validation, where we, among other things, did a study at Karolinska Institute in Sweden with a group of free divers who held their breath, we were ready to take the next step and commercialize the product. In the spring of 2015, we brought in an investor, who was also a close friend of mine. We had some initial meetings and discussions that were very rewarding. The investor not only contributed with money but also with great knowledge, as he had worked as a successful consultant for many years.

Toothache caused sleep problems

Although I began to feel a growing doubt inside me regarding our new collaboration, I did not allow it to come to the surface. Money was exactly what was needed, both for the project with the new device, and for me. The revenues from Conscious Breathing had dropped over the previous year while I had put a great deal of focus on translating the book and the website into English, so the bank account had started to get uncomfortably low.

I am very rarely sick, but during Easter weekend, about 1½ months after we started the collaboration with my friend the investor, I got a serious toothache. The pain lasted for four days, and as it was difficult to sleep because of the pain, I felt really weak. However, I am one of those who thinks that getting sick is not necessarily a bad thing for which I should do everything in my power, whether it is taking drugs, supplements or grandma’s home remedy, to get well as soon as possible.

My attitude is that when we are sick, we get a different perspective on things which gives us the opportunity for new insights. For example, coping with my toothache helped me realize that 15 minutes breathing with the Relaxator gave me two hours of sleep and was as effective as an Alvedon (acetaminophen) pill. This is something I might not have learned about the Relaxator’s effect on pain had I not experienced the toothache.

Stomach pains during my trip to the USA

A week later, it was time to go to the USA. Finally, it was time to launch my concept in English! I gave 10 lectures in 11 days, including Ericsson in Dallas, and a television recording in Boulder, Colorado, where I was interviewed by Regina Meredith for Gaia TV. During much of the two weeks I was in the USA, I had pains in my stomach. The stomach pains started immediately when I got there, and I initially thought they perhaps were stress related and had to do with my lectures.

Slowly but surely, however, I began to wonder if it had something to do with the investor. It is not that I cannot cooperate, but as a self-employed entrepreneur for 25 years, I have grown accustomed to a large extent to making my own decisions. However, since the investor had the money, it was he who had the final say and could say, “No, I do not want to spend my money on that.” But since the project needed a financier, I needed money, and he was a close friend, I continued to turn a blind eye to what my body was trying to tell me.

I told myself the stomach problems would surely go away when I came home from the USA, but they did not. On the contrary, they increased. I came home on a Thursday, and a few days later, on the following Monday morning at 6am, I and my investor-friend were scheduled to go to Linköping University to meet the professor. That Saturday night, I slept very little because of my stomach problems, and Sunday night I did not sleep at all as I was in so much pain.

The pain disappeared when I made the right decision

At half past six in the morning on Monday, I called my friend and said that I, unfortunately, had to cancel and that he would have to go on his own. When I hung up from the call, the pain was all but gone, and I fell asleep immediately and slept for several hours. When the insight had sunk in completely, I could remove the blinders, start thinking logically, and realize that what my body had been trying to tell me was that this was a collaboration I should not continue with.

About a week later, we terminated the collaboration. I pulled out, and my investor friend and the professor continued. Unfortunately, this ended our friendship, and we have no contact today.

Interestingly, after I left the project, Conscious Breathing started to take off for real, and when I look back now, several years later, it is obvious that that situation was a distinct turning point. It is quite possible that it would have happened anyway, but it is also conceivable that the fact that I chose to stand up for myself and be honest with myself helped me become stronger and more determined when moving forward.

What became clear to me during this time is that our bodies are not enemies that want to hurt us or mess with us. They are, instead, our best friends who want to help us and tell us whenever we need to make any change in the way we live, think and act. Willpower and stubbornness have their place too, but if they come at the expense of our ability to listen to our bodies when our bodies use discomfort to try to tell us that something is not right, we run the risk of having even bigger problems in the long run.

When we experience pain, or we feel inexplicably tired, make embarrassing mistakes, or feel a strong craving for sugar or alcohol and so on, we should take a step back and consider what might lie behind those things, what is going on in our life, and if it just might be that our body is trying to tell us something important.  

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About the author

Anders Olsson is a lecturer, teacher and founder of the Conscious Breathing concept and the author of The Power of Your Breath. After living most of his life with a ”hurricane of thoughts” bouncing back and forth in is head, Anders was fortunate enough to come across tools that have helped him relax and find his inner calm. The most powerful of these tools has undoubtedly been to improve his breathing habits, which made Anders decide to become the worlds most prominent expert in breathing. This is almost 10 years ago and since then he has helped tens of thousands of people to a better health and improved quality of life. His vision is “Together we change the world, one breath at a time.

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