Just Breathe
June 11, 2018 9:50 PM   Subscribe

I needed this. Thank you.
posted by greermahoney at 10:00 PM on June 11

posted by Jpfed at 10:02 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]

I used to meditate a lot -- like 25 years ago -- and although I stepped way back from it, I've maintained the practice of controlled breathing. Not regularly and at assigned times, but I'll bet I do it every day in one way or another, sometimes in a very deliberate and focused manner, but more often when I just realize that the next ten minutes will be much more pleasant for everyone in my orbit if I just slow my breathing the fuck down and let that parasympathetic response melt away whatever seems to be threatening to set me off.

I don't put much faith in magic bullets and lifehacks, but pranayama or controlled breathing or whatever name works for you is the real deal.
posted by vverse23 at 10:47 PM on June 11 [9 favorites]

Does it matter if I don't think about the sensation of the breath or where my attention is going and just breathe? The attention part of meditation is the part I'd rather skip.
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:41 PM on June 11

I wonder if there are any other animals that attempt controlled breathing? I am thinking of the moment when dogs let out a big sigh for example. We know that many animals self-medicate in terms of of what they eat - but there seems to be a lack of data in how they might do by other means. I don't really see why the calming benefits of controlled breathing might not benefit a chimp, for example, in the same way that it does for a human. To put it another way: I'd be a little surprised if the tendency to work ourselves into a position of stress with our thoughts - and then use breathing to relieve that stress - is a uniquely human behaviour.
posted by rongorongo at 12:09 AM on June 12 [11 favorites]

For some reason every time I try this it makes my heart start racing.
posted by bleep at 1:10 AM on June 12 [4 favorites]

As a daily swimmer I’ve noticed that the breathing pattern which doing the crawl forces (long exhale, short inhale) is a big part of why I feel so damned great afterwards. Our bodies love oxygen and rhythms, and together they can work wonders.
posted by kinnakeet at 2:41 AM on June 12 [4 favorites]

This is a good practice any time, but probably most useful the day it was published, the day after the last U.S. presidential election.
posted by MtDewd at 4:13 AM on June 12 [5 favorites]

Since I started running earlier this year I've been paying close attention to my breathing and how it changes as I approach exhaustion. It is pretty amazing how the way in which you breathe can immediately impact your energy level and endurance.

I also utilize a breathing technique I learned many moons ago in karate to accelerate the recovery process when I am out of breath. It sort of looks like the Street Fighter HADOUKEN move, but it works.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:24 AM on June 12

Thanks for this! I popped the gifs and instructions into a slide deck and have this on my desktop.
posted by carter at 6:44 AM on June 12

Two alternatives: 1. Instead of expanding the belly while inhaling, gently contract the abdominal muscles, thus expanding the chest instead. 2. Take in a deep breath, and audibly sigh, once, twice, or thrice.
posted by kozad at 7:42 AM on June 12

As Jpfed mentioned, I made two Chrome/Firefox extensions—one for Twitter (posted to Projects) and one for Metafilter (posted to Talk)—that add a guided breathing step before confirming your intent to post. Check 'em out if you're into this!
posted by waninggibbon at 10:00 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]

Does it matter if I don't think about the sensation of the breath or where my attention is going and just breathe? The attention part of meditation is the part I'd rather skip.

Depends on what you want out of it, but if you just want to calm down then no not really.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:45 AM on June 12

Breathing is practical. Understatement of eternity.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:10 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]

For some reason every time I try this it makes my heart start racing.

This is what naturally happens on the inhale + hold -- it's the exhale + hold that activates the parasympathetic response. I wondered about the same thing and then I read another article that someone recently linked on, I think, the Blue. The author is responding to someone with the same question:
Every time you inhale you activate your sympathetic response a bit (and your heart speeds up a little, vagus nerve is suppressed); if you hold the air in, that response is accentuated. Every time you exhale you activate the parasympathetic response (and the heart rate slows down a bit, vagus nerve is active); if you hold the air out for few seconds it will facilitate the parasympathetic activation.
posted by camyram at 3:56 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]

If that’s the case I wish they would rewrite those dumb meditation apps and yoga classes that tell you to take a BIG DEEP BREATH in and waaaaaaaiiiiit annnnndddd exhale. Seems like the opposite of what you should do.
posted by bleep at 4:17 PM on June 12

"How to Good-bye Depression: If You Constrict Anus 100 Times Everyday. Malarkey? or Effective Way?" - available at Amazon and wherever better books are sold
posted by etherist at 7:07 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]

> bleep:
"I wish they would rewrite those dumb meditation apps"

I might just separate the inhalation and exhalation pause settings in my dumb app :)
posted by waninggibbon at 7:17 PM on June 12

Controlled breathing makes me really anxious. Sometimes I can get through it, sometimes I can't.

I think it's a hangup from years of poorly controlled asthma as a kid. I did a lot of slow breathing to try to mitigate asthma attacks and now paying attention to my breathing makes me feel very uneasy.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:12 PM on June 12

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