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Just Breathe

November 3, 2009

This may seem like a strange topic to talk about, but it’s been proven (to me at least) to help in any and all situations.

It’s extremely simple, but the simple can help us a lot in many situations – as we tend to overcomplicate our lives by bending over backwards to fulfill little productivity quotas with techniques. Sometimes the projects pile up, and we are left with the stress weighing us down. But we can just dissolve into the moment and snap ourselves back to reality with one simple thing that you do nearly every moment of the day: breathe.

When you’re doing anything, and you start to feel your mind wander, just pull your attention back to your breath. When you feel the pressure of a deadline coming down on you, pull your attention back to your breath. When you are faced with a task that you really don’t feel like doing, just pull your attention back to your breath. When you just want to relax, just pull your attention back to your breath.

It’s like a fool’s mate – in any and every situation, pulling your attention back to your breath helps pull you back to reality and clears your mind of any unnecessary thoughts. It creates a feeling of peace and harmony within you, and cuts away all other distractions that you have going on. It keeps you focused on what you’re doing and not what’s going on inside your head. Even if it didn’t have any of those benefits, it’s still good to do because it feels good. And aren’t we all chasing good emotions one way or another? Just breathing doesn’t cost you anything and can be done in any moment at any time during your day, unless you happen to be submerged underwater. In that case, breathing is potentially harmful and it is strongly recommended that you not breathe. But when you’re in an area where breathing air is possible, focusing on breathing is exceptionally helpful and it just feels good! How could you not breathe!

Technique
There is a technique to proper breathing, however. You can’t just tell yourself that you feel good all the time because you breathe all the time – this is about the focus on breathing, not just the act of breathing itself. Focusing on it is what matters, since that creates the feeling of peace and presence (ergo, not being stuck in your head and focus on physical reality) that makes this so effective. After you’ve focused on your breath, make sure you take relaxed, deep breaths – you should try to inhale into your stomach, not your chest. Breathing into your chest is shallow and creates tension in your body. When you exhale, it should be relaxed and slow, devoid of any effort.

Another way to think of it is how it’s expressed in David Deida’s Way of the Superior Man. He says you should imagine inhaling as cycling energy from your head to your stomach area, and exhaling is like cycling that energy up your spine and back to your head. With each breath, the energy is cycled throughout your body. This still uses the same basic technique from above, just more spiritual. Personally, I like using this method, as it pulls me out of my head even more and makes me much more present and relaxed. But for some, especially those who haven’t meditated, it may be difficult at first.

Application
Here’s my mission for you guys:

Right now, focus on your breath for 5 breath cycles (inhalation/exhalation).

After that, grab a clock, and put it next to your workplace.

Do whatever you feel like, but every 10 minutes, just pull your attention back to your breath. Observe how it feels and try to do it as long as you can. Don’t worry if you can only focus for a few cycles.

Report back in the comments section or just take this knowledge and apply it in your everyday life.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2009 9:42 am

    Breathing is the essence of life and well being. I’m very interested in learnin qigong techniques where breathing is one of its fundamentals.

    • November 4, 2009 8:25 pm

      Indeed, Oscar. I always say as a joke, “You know how to live a long life? Keep breathing.” It’s true though – breathing, for us, is the defining characteristic of life (for humans, anyway).

      Feel free to pass any qigong techniques along to me when you learn!

      Have a good one,
      Brett

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