Learning to breathe

While reading Jeff Vail’s A Theory of Power (pdf), I came across an exercise in the footnotes on page 38.

Conscious breathing, in particular, seems to be a pathway to control over the body’s sympathetic and parasympathetic responses. Try this simple exercise. Repeat the following four times:

  • Breathe in through the nose to the count of four
  • Hold your breath to the count of seven
  • Exhale through pursed lips to the count of eight
  • After the fourth time, immediately breathe in and out through the nose as quickly as possible for fifteen seconds
  • Repeat the initial four breaths

Do this to obtain a relaxed, alert state of mind at a time when you find your body slipping unwillingly into “fight-or-flight” mode.

Check out Andrew Weil’s Breathing: Three Exercises for additional information.

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