I’m learning more and more how much breath can influence nearly every aspect of your body and mind. It can calm you, excite you, help you concentrate and even to some degree can let you control aspects of your nervous system. It is a powerful tool that many people overlook on a daily basis because it is automatic. We don’t have to think about it, and that which we don’t put effort into can easily be taken for granted.
I know the power of breathing for meditation and I’ve become amazed at how much breathing can improve your mood and focus. A while back I came across this Tim Ferriss podcast featuring Wim Hof, also known as “The Iceman”. Wim is a Dutch adventurer that got his nickname “The Iceman” because of his almost super-human ability to withstand extremely cold temperatures. He has climbed past the death zone of Mount Everest (over 7,500 meters) wearing nothing but shorts. He has run a full marathon in Finland, above the polar circle, in -4° Fahrenheit temps also wearing nothing but shorts.
Wim Hof attributes much of his achievements to his ability to control his breath. This allows him to alter certain chemical processes in his body and have some major effects on his performance. It is absolutely amazing. Check out the blog post from Tim Ferriss here and listen to the podcast direct from
So this got me thinking about how we as people breathe on a daily basis. How we breathe when we’re exercising, happy, or stressed. We tend to constrict our breathing more and more as our bodies become tense and this leads to higher stress and more tension. It’s a cycle. Having control of your breath is another component of mindfulness. It is an awareness that can only help you take further control over your body.
Think about someone who smokes. The first thing they do after they light their cigarette is to inhale deeply. And they would probably tell you how relaxed they are after that first puff. But that relaxation didn’t come from the cigarette. It came from the deep breath they took. They only associate it because they weren’t breathing correctly, to begin with. So many of our actions and habits get formed this way.
Take a few minutes today and think about how your breathing. It’s an area that is overlooked because it is an innate action but changing how you breath can have a measurable impact on your mood and, in the end, your health and well-being.