BOX BREATHING: A BREATHING TECHNIQUE TO FOCUS THE MIND
Learning to control the breath is one of the most powerful (and free!) tools we have for improving concentration, managing stress, developing optimal health, and guiding our spiritual advancement.
Deep and rhythmic breathing helps you calm your thoughts, slow your heart rate, and regulate your autonomic nervous system. When you’re working on something that requires your full and undivided attention, focused breathing helps you direct what your mind is paying attention to and focus on that thing without any distractions. When a high-pressure situation arises, it helps you control the physical and mental response to stress, preventing you from getting frazzled.
When reflecting upon your own life and inner nature, this technique helps you slow down and gain more insight and self-knowledge. And at a practical and physical level, proper breathing enhances lung capacity, strengthens your immune system, and regulates your neuroendocrine system.
The following technique is recommended by neurohacker Mark Divine. A retired Navy SEAL Commander, Mark now runs SEALFIT in Encinitas, California, which is a program to develop elite level physical fitness and mental toughness.
He calls this breath control practice ‘Box Breathing,’ and cites it as his secret weapon for creating a balanced, energized state, and a calm, focused mind.
Here’s how you do it:
The Basics: Picture a glass when you fill it with water. The water fills the glass from the bottom up. On the inhale, expand 360 degrees around your lower belly, meaning your using the diaphragm, then the upper chest. On the exhale, let the breath go first from the upper chest, then the ribcage, then the belly. This helps you relearn how to breathe deeply.
* Inhale and exhale solely through the nose. It stimulates the nerves that activate the parasympathetic nervous system and counters the fear response of the sympathetic nervous system.
Steps: * Inhale for a count of 5. * Retain and hold the breath for a count of 5. * Exhale all the breath from the lungs for a count of 5. * Retain and hold the breath for a count of 5. * Repeat.
Length: Start with 1-3 minute “spot drills” several times a day before an important meeting or event. Work up to 5-10 minutes a day.
And that’s it!
Mark says that this one technique alone is so transformative that with consistent execution it will profoundly change your life. I’ve found that it helps me calm down in stressful situations, making me capable of choosing how I want to respond instead of mindlessly reacting in anger or frustration.
We cover this and other techniques in detail in our Olympic Essentials: Leadership & Wellbeing Training. Next start date is Monday 7th October 2019.
This article was originally featured in Neurohacker.