Breathing

28.07.2016 |

Episode #5 of the course Small habits that yield big results by Joe Bennett

 

Breathing is so basic and subtly woven into our lives that we barely take notice of it. Yet it’s so very important. Sadly, American culture doesn’t put an emphasis on learning how to maximize the skill of breathing, and most people miss out on its massive health benefits.

 

In my life

Mindful, practiced breathing has helped me be a more centered, peaceful person. My immune health has been better, I recover faster from physical exercise, and I have a more positive outlook during the day.

I first learned about breathing exercises during my journey from anxiety to peace. Trying to find my own way, I started matching my inhale and exhale with the same amount of heartbeats for each one.

I’ve since learned about another technique called “box breathing” from author and former Navy Seal Mark Divine.

 

The benefit to you

Since breathing is so integrated into how our bodies perform, it has nearly unlimited benefits when controlled, practiced, and enhanced.

It will give you clarity of mind and rapid physical and mental recovery. It will help slow you down or speed you up. It can give you courage. It can open your experience up to the world around you.

Think about this: The average person takes about 10 breaths per minute. The practiced breather takes about 3. The amount of lung surface area the practiced breather is leveraging far surpasses the average person. The brain, organs, and muscles of the practiced breather are supercharged in comparison.

 

How you do it

Here are the exercises I do:

Heartbeat matching

  1. Put the first two fingers of your left hand gently against the top left part of your neck just under your left jaw to feel the pulse in your jugular vein.

  2. Breath in for 10 heartbeats.

  3. Breath out for 10 heartbeats.

  4. Repeat.

    1. If you need to do fewer heartbeats and work your way up, that’s fine.

    2. Gradually work yourself up to 20 heartbeats for inhale and exhale.

Simple timed breathing

  1. Set a timer for 5 minutes.

  2. Breathe in for 10 seconds (count them on the timer on your phone).

  3. Breathe out for 10 seconds (count them on the timer on your phone).

  4. Repeat until the timer runs out.

Box Breathing

  1. Set a timer for 5 minutes.

  2. Breathe in for 5 seconds.

  3. Hold your breath for 5 seconds and continue to expand your chest upward and outward.

  4. Breathe out for 5 seconds.

  5. Hold your breath for 5 seconds.

  6. Repeat until the timer runs out.

 

The science

The oxygen in every breath you take fuels every part of your body. The better you are at breathing, the better your overall health will be.

Additionally, breathing is closely tied to our emotional state. Because of the body’s fight or flight response, heart rate and breathing rate often increase together or are influenced directionally by each other. When one goes up, so does the other.

We can consciously decide to breathe differently and invoke the related psycho-biological response in our minds and bodies.

 

What you’ll learn tomorrow: Improve relationships with the “I’m thinking of you” text

 

Recommended book

“The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook” by Martha Davis, Elizabeth Robbins Eshelman & Matthew McKay

 

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