Program Peace is a self-care system that will guide you to use over 100 different exercises to train your body to function optimally. Many different systems throughout the body perform suboptimally because their actions have been linked to stress, strain, and negative emotions. Over time this results in the accumulation of trauma within the body’s tissues. The activities on this website can help you rehabilitate them, reducing stress, and freeing you from pain. By using this system you will experience improved posture, more energy, increased confidence, and the ability to breathe freely. The entire program is available to you on this website at no cost. Use the menu to the left to access the various exercises by “chapter” title. Each chapter addresses a different topic and explains why you should use the exercises, how they can help you, and what you can expect your progress to look and feel like.
The Program Peace methodology addresses modules all over the body but begins with the breath. The third link on the menu to the left will teach you how to breathe in a way that activates the resting and healing division of your nervous system (the parasympathetic branch). The key is to breathe with maximal activation of the diaphragm. All mammals that are in a calm and peaceful state breathe with the diaphragm. As mammals are exposed to trauma they learn to breathe without the diaphragm. This promotes chronic hyperventilation, and is the body’s way of preparing itself for a hostile, negative environment that is full of threats. In other words, the animal’s DNA is willing to sacrifice its long-term physical and emotional wellbeing if it thinks that upregulating the stress response will aid in short-term survival. This results in an animal that is constantly in fear for its life. Most humans live and breathe in this way even though it is completely unnecessary in the modern environment. Virtually everyone’s stress system has been turned up too high, and this results in chronic muscular, respiratory and cardiovascular fatigue. This is why people’s bodies hurt, they age rapidly, and they can never catch their breath.
Like all mammals from mice to monkeys, you and I have learned to stifle and strain our diaphragm. Cumulatively the difficult, or nonpeacful, moments in our lives have programmed us to breathe shallowly. This is known as “distressed breathing” and it is highly destructive to your physical and mental health. Program Peace will teach you how to completely reverse this by recruiting the diaphragm with every breath. This process of going from short, shallow breaths to long, deep breaths is depicted in the site logo on the top left corner of your screen. As your diaphragm strengthens, its range of motion increases, and your neurological control over it improves, your well-being will improve with it. It will take months, but will probably amount to the most important change you could make in your life.
As shown in the figure below, breathing deeply with the diaphragm will slow your heart rate and decrease your stress response.
Before time 1 this person is breathing short, shallow breaths and has a high heart rate, and a high stress response (sympathetic arousal level). At time 1 this person starts breathing slowly and deeply and you see a corresponding decrease in their heart rate, and stress. At time 2 they resume shallow breathing and this causes their heart rate and stress to go back up.
All mammals use subordination displays to show submission to more dominant animals in order to mitigate conflict. Humans use submissive displays too, often completely unconsciously, and even just to appear friendly. Submissive displays that go on too long, cause stress, muscle tension, and shallow breathing. In fact, shallow breathing itself is a display of submission. In interaction between mammals the animal breathing more deeply and diaphragmatically is almost always the dominant one.
Most of us respond to social cues using the same neurological circuits that a prey animal uses to respond to a predator. It is difficult to stop using submissive displays because they become habitual, and because others come to expect them. Over time submissive nonverbal body language becomes an ingrained part of your personality. Chronic suboptimal or submissive signaling is the primary cause of our pain, trauma, depression, and anxiety. The activities and exercises in this book teach you to reprogram these hidden sources of stress, frustration, and aggression. This will improve the way you feel, look, and get along with others.
The Program Peace system works through a very simple physiological mechanism. It guides you to pair diaphragmatic breathing with other nonsubmissive postures and behaviors in order to bring peace to them. This ensures that whenever you use the behavior, you feel relaxed doing it. The majority of the exercises in this program relate directly to competitive body language used by primates and other mammals. They include behaviors like opening your eyes wide, straightening your neck, contracting your glutes, and speaking in a bold voice. Below is a list of just a few of the behavioral subroutines that you will be guided to reprogram.
Displays and Behaviors Targeted by Program Peace:
Consider the involuntary placement of your eyes in social situations. Looking upwards, above the eyeline, is a clear dominance display. Most people feel very uncomfortable looking up in public. If you spend 30 seconds on a crowded street looking upward you will become very self conscious. Your breathing will become shallow and rapid, your heartbeat will speed up, and your stress level will increase. The figure below illustrates how when we stop behaving submissively our breathing and heart rates increase quickly.
The figure above shows relaxed breathing that is slow and deep until the person uses a dominant or optimal display starting at time 1. Using the display causes their breathing to become more shallow than usual and you see an increase in their heart rate and stress response until time 2 when they stop using that display.
The unconscious fear of behaving optimally keeps our body language withdrawn and timid, increasing our susceptibility to anxiety and depression. Over time we come to look at the floor, hunch our neck, and speak in an unnaturally high voice all the time, even when we are alone. But there is a simple solution. If you spend a few minutes a day breathing slow, long, deep breaths with the diaphragm while looking up, then upward gaze will stop recruiting the distressed breathing response. The idea is to start practicing it alone, then practice it in public, and transition towards doing it socially. In only a couple of minutes a day, a few days per week you can train yourself to stop looking down. This technique can be used to make all forms of optimal body language feel comfortable and arise spontaneously.
The figure above shows data from a person who has used the Program Peace method of exposing an optimal or dominant display to diaphragmatic breathing. They use the optimal body language from time 1 to time 2; however there is no discernable change in their stress response. Because they have calmed their body’s reaction to the display it no longer provokes fear, guilt or any kind of stress.
The Program Peace system will guide you to systematically pair diaphragmatic breathing with many different types of assertive behavior that you would ordinarily find unnerving. This will reorient your body’s response to them from the fight or flight mode, to the resting and healing mode. Treating individual behavioral subroutines in this way will help you come to peace with them. After you master them individually you will be guided to use multiple subroutines together, making confident, stress-free, healthy body language your default. This is the Program Peace method, the best and fastest way to reprogram yourself for peace.
Jared Edward Reser Ph.D.
Below is a short description of each of the chapters of exercises in Program Peace found in the menu to the left:
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Based on a work at www.programpeace.com.