I have a bad habit of sometimes holding my breath while working on something intricate or even while trying to play a difficult melodic run on my guitar.

The reason I hold my breath is because I believe it gives me more control:  Less Breath = A Calmer Mind and a Steadier Hand.

That thinking is wrong.

Holding your breath only makes your heart beat faster and places your nervous system on high alert.

When I was younger and running races in school, our coach always told us to “breathe throughout the sprint” because “holding your breath makes you run slower, not faster.”  I remember the advice, but fail on the action.

Practicing the steady breath is important and oftentimes taxing.  A doctor friend of mine told me that, when a person is dying, the one thing that wears out a patient the most is struggling to breathe:  “You have no idea how tough and complex just inhaling and exhaling is until you can’t doing it on your own very well any longer.”

Every day, I take 10 minutes out of my workday to sit quietly and practice steadying my breathing so the inhale speed and tempo matches the exhalation.  Most of us take our time inhaling and expel the air much too quickly.

This Meditative Breath Method practice gives me many great gifts even though I sometimes feel as if I’m stealing the day.  I slowly inhale through my nose and exhale from my mouth.  I visualize inhaling the color blue and exhaling the color grey:  In with the good, out with the bad.  Let the breathing cleanse your entire body.  When I do it correctly, my arms tingle and my entire body feels lighter.

Keeping a steady breath is important or you risk getting light headed.  If you try the Meditative Breath Method, close your eyes and take your time.  There’s no rush. If you start to feel lightheaded, just slow down your exhalation a bit more.  Find a rhythm.  Stay there.  Discover your center.  Allow yourself a selfish moment to steal an important, and precious, bit of peace back from your perfect day.

“Just breathe,” isn’t quite enough.  “Just Equally Breathe” is the real key to getting the most out every concentrated moment.

3 Comments

    1. When I was getting all my dental work done, Gordon, my dentist — originally from India — would tell me to, “Breathe in through my mouth” (and then she’d stick me with the Novocaine needle!) and then say, “Breathe out through your mouth” (as she injected the Novocaine!).

      When I held my breath during the first pinch — she didn’t squeeze the needle to deliver the Novocaine until I started to breathe out through my mouth! Now that was a painful lesson quickly remembered and re-learned!

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