I didn’t realise the power of breathing until I met Thomas Beresford.

Thomas, the 259th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, runs breathwork workshops, where he conducts breathing exercises and teaches proper breathing techniques.

The breathing exercises have incredible mental and physical health benefits, with participants enjoying less stress, less anxiety, more energy, clearer thinking and better sleep.

As for the breathing techniques, they probably seem pointless, given that every living person is already able to breathe. However, as Thomas explained, many of us breathe inefficiently, which leads to worse outcomes in terms of stress, anxiety, energy, thinking and sleep.

Thomas is a certified instructor of the Wim Hof Method, which involves breathwork, cold therapy and mindset. Thomas lives what he teaches, which means he not only does regular breathwork, he also takes cold showers every day and consciously looks for ways to incrementally improve his mental strength.

Thomas’s breathwork business is the third distinct phase of his career.

First, he spent a decade as a teacher, on the Isle of Man, where he was born and raised. He specialised in physical education, after studying sports science at university.

Next, he studied accounting, and then spent 15 years in corporate finance, working on the Isle of Man, in continental Europe and finally in Sydney. 

More recently, he founded his business, Breath Space with Thomas, after discovering breathwork on a wellness retreat. It all made perfect sense to Thomas, not only because of his sports science background, but also because he’d experienced burnout and physical health problems during his very successful – and high-stress – corporate career.

Thomas and I really hit it off, because we share similar ideas around taking action, personal responsibility and self-improvement. One thing that struck me during our very enjoyable lunch is that the outcomes we get in life are caused not by a few big actions but the cumulative effect of millions of small decisions.

Every breath counts.