Monitoring your breathing is very easy to do and will improve your focus, alertness, voice tone, fitness, and even help you face your fears. It’s very simple to improve your breathing and you will notice great results immediately.
To improve your breathing you first need to monitor it and be a little conscious of it. Most people naturally inhale and exhale rather quickly, similar to someone who just climbed a flight of stairs, and is a bit out of breath. A better breathing technique is deep breathing. To breathe deeply simply inhale for 2-4 seconds, you should feel your stomach slightly expanding, and then again slowly exhale for 2-4 seconds. You should not feel any discomfort as long as your inhaling and exhaling slowly. You should actually feel a sense of relaxation and peacefulness. Monitoring your breathing is a working process, the more you do it, the more benefits you will experience. The following benefits are just a few that I personally experienced.
1. Becoming More Focused
Often when we are trying to focus on getting a certain task done, our mind becomes distracting, thinking about all kinds of past or future activities instead of just fulling being engaged in the present moment. This obviously wastes time, and is very inefficient. For example as I’m sitting here writing this post, my mind will occasionally drift and start thinking about my earlier workout this morning, and then it will think about meeting with a couple of my friends later tonight. At this moment I’m trying to focus fully on writing this post. So obviously thinking about what I did this morning is a distraction and also thinking about what I’m doing later tonight is very distracting. If I need to finalize my plans with my friends, then I can do that after I’m done writing this, but constantly thinking and worrying about it is useless, distracting and even a bit stressful.
One technique for being more focused and in the present moment is to start monitoring your breathing. Use deep breathing, inhale slowly for 2-4 seconds, feel the air going in through your nose, traveling through your chest, expanding your lungs and stomach, and raising your shoulders. Then as you slowly exhale for 2-4 seconds, feel the air leaving all those different parts of your body as it comes out of your nose. Notice how relaxing this is, and how it cut out any detracting useless thoughts you might of had going through your mind. Use this technique as often as you need to become more focused and present. If you are interested in learning more about this phenomenon of becoming more present minded I really recommend you read the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
2. Becoming More Alert
As I discussed above, when you monitor your breathing, you will start becoming more present minded. As you become more present minded you will become a lot more alert. This is very beneficial during certain activities such as driving a car or participating in a social interaction.
Try deep breathing next time you drive, and slowly start noticing how wide your field of vision is. When stopped at a traffic light or an intersection, you should be able to look straight ahead and still see whats on your right and left, creating a 180 degree field of vision. If you keep looking straight a head and even slightly look down you should start seeing behind your eyes increasing your field of vision even more.
In social interactions, do you notice how sometimes you become a bit distracted, and even miss a few words or a sentence the other person said? Try deep breathing and notice how you are a lot more alert to what the other person is saying. You will also start becoming more alert to any kind of changes in their body language and facial expression vastly improving your ability to interpret and understand what they are saying.
3. Managing Your Fears
I often recommend working on your fears and getting out of your comfort zone as a great personal development technique. However often in our day to day lives we need to do things that might make us nervous or a bit scared. Whether you need to ask a stranger for help, or ask your boss for a raise, you know you have to do it, yet you start feel very nervous when you are about to and might even back down. Feeling scared is normal and healthy however you need to manager it and be able to push through it. Next time you are feeling scared or nervous, just try slowing down and breathe deeply. This sounds very simple however it works. I used this often when working on my social skills and learning to talk to strangers. I would be very nervous as I was approaching a stranger and as a result would even stutter or speak in a very low nervous voice. As I started using deep breathing, I noticed I started becoming more calm and collected as I would initiate conversations with strangers.
4. A Clearer Louder Voice
Having a clear loud voice is very beneficial. It doesn’t matter how you naturally sound, you can always improve your voice. Some of the advantages of having a clear loud voice is not having to repeat yourself, capturing others attention, and easily being able to talk in loud noisy venues. You will even notice that most managers and CEOs tend to have a louder clearer voice. Having a loud clear voice will greatly improve all of your social interactions, you will be able to quickly capture others attention. Most voice training programs recommend monitoring your breathing to improve your voice. Try this: breathe in deeply, feeling your stomach expand, and as you exhale start talking, notice how your voice sound louder, more resonating, and even a bit clearer. You might not be able to hear the difference yourself, however if you use a voice recorder, it will be very obvious. The more you monitor and improve your breathing the better your voice will become.
5. Better Fitness Workouts
Whether you are doing cardiovascular training or lifting weight monitoring your breathing will greatly improve your workouts. If you are doing cardio, try deep breathing only through your nose, keeping your mouth shut. Monitor your deep breathing and make sure it stays at a slow steady pace. As you try this you will notice that you can do longer cardio workouts without quickly running out of breath. If you are lifting weights try exhaling during the tougher part of the exercise. For example, if it’s a push exercise like the bench press, as you lower the bar try inhaling deeply through your mouth, and as you push the bar back up, you should exhale a burst of air through your mouth. If you are doing a pull exercise such as a bicep curl, then you would exhale as you curl the weight up, and inhale as you lower the weight back down. Using this technique will help you lift more weights and build your muscles quicker.
Maybe you know of or have noticed more benefits to deep breathing, please share in the comments section below