I say this because it makes me wonder about the causality. I’m not convinced breathing exercises by themselves do much good for physical health, but rather that good breathing habits are a consequence of overall good health.
You could argue that maybe anything that raises your breathing rate through exercise forcibly achieves the effect of getting those nerves firing but you also encounter breathing exercises as a therapy in quite a few avenues: yoga, wim hof, tantra, pilates, meditation, tai chi (to name a few)
There's probably some shared roots between some of the listed roots but I find it curious that the act of conscious breathing is encountered in so many different places and is now becoming a little more mainstream through mindfulness
Mindfulness is also a central tenet in buddhism and yoga.
For at least two thousand years buddhism and yoga had this cross pollination when it came to breathing techniques, mindfulness and meditation.
Even in the 15th / 16th century there was a warning to stay away from fake gurus.
Shaolin legend has it it was a yogi Bodhidharma that revived the physical practice after the fitness of the residents was declining.
I say this in the sense that there was a lot of cross pollination going on, and archiving a lot of practices from eachother.
Controlled breathing, as mentioned, is central to the wim hof method, the yogic practice of pranayama, and to many kinds of martial arts and meditation, and doesn't really have the potential for injury (with the exclusion of the more physically demanding martial arts). Some of those practices are also more accessible to people with mobility issues.
My personal experience with yoga and meditation, is a very significant uplift in mood, and better sleep (I used to have a very bad snoring problem). I also do a mix of weighted exercise, callisthenics, and cardio, and I've found the combination to work very well.
6 days a week of HIIT training, without enough time for your body to recover is a recipe for injury. Of course, this can vary from person to person and the intensity of the workout and the level of your experience and form - but these are things you didn't mention.
This would of course lead to injury. I don’t think anyone wants to squat heavy after sprinting.
Weightlifting is pretty safe when done right. Just make sure you have plenty of rest. At the same time, unrelated, but the posture benefits are way overrated. In fact, it’s gonna lead to bad posture over time unless you couple it with yoga or some sort of corrective stretching.
That's a fair call. Heavy weight training was usually on separate days, but I recall some crossfit WODs would include deadlifts alongside other fast-paced exercises, and now I question the safety of that. Those deadlifts were likely low weight, high-rep though.
Bodyweight training/calisthenics is interesting but is lacking on two of the best exercises for posture: Face pulls and (Romanian) Deadlifts. For Deadlifts light to moderate weight is enough, with perfect form, be careful if you have tight hamstring to work on mobility.
Bodyweight stuff is what I mostly do now with some weighted exercises, but I'm keen to get into heavier weights again.
The technique I learnt was at a 10-day silent retreat, of which we spent the first days (9-hours a day) exclusively on concentrating on respiration. With this new awareness, I realised, just in my day to day, and especially when I'm trying to focus, I sometimes forget to breathe. This is something I otherwise would not have noticed and not corrected. Also important to note that I used to have mild sleep apnoea, and I would always wake up feeling groggy from lack of oxygen. I haven't had a sleep study since I've started practicing, but I no longer wake up groggy, and now I can go to sleep within the hour instead of tossing and turning half the night.
I've noticed that yoga and meditation have also improved my breathing and form during exercise.
I actually find controlled breathing is very good for regulating pain.
The breathing also helps mentally but also helps relax the body. As you are exerting yourself it can be a natural response to carry tension in your body. Tension is usually the enemy of body mechanics - it leads to inefficient technique.
Watch any sport (including running) and something notable about any pro is how easy or relaxed they look.
This can be learned and breathing has some chicken/egg relationship with relaxation
Meaning, one a bit learns to control the breath, without thinking about it, just doing?
I am also extremely partial to sprinting. The closest you can come without drugs to a certain type of very lean and muscular physique is to combine lifting and sprinting. Sprinting is great for your abdominals, quads, calves, so it can really balance out the bulky, top-heavy look that can come from only lifting.
After a period of excessive work (slumping in a chair for 18 hours a day), combined with a sports injury, I ended up with a very messed up posture. Lifting weights actually exacerbated the issue, rather than fixing it.
Just be careful with form, and learn the technique well before increasing the weights, as they can be intense for your back.
I always thought there was an opening for an Xbox Kinect like solution to this problem, that analysed form and warned what was wrong, but I guess the liability for something like that is just too great.
And... read Rippetoe, I still think it's the best text any serious lifter should have read through at least once.
I keep them in a corner of my room. Takes up basically no space.
(Disclaimer: I just found this book on Svara Yoga in english; I haven't read it myself.)
The causality is clear at this point. Breathing and focus exercises like meditation are deadlifts for your brain. Like most other organs, it adapts to various stimuli.
If you're not convinced that breathing can affect your physiology or your mental state, try hyperventilating for a few minutes. I strongly advise stopping before you pass out.
I like it because it's not a logical activity. Nobody has to be convinced that it works or makes sense. If you breathe in a certain way, your feelings will change (or something noticeable will happen) whether you believe in it or not.
I'm happy it's becoming more mainstream. Even if you don't do it regularly, it's a good thing to learn.
Alternate Nostril Breathing (ANB)
Routine: 2 minutes ANB. Rest* 1 minute. 2 minutes ANB.
Benefits: Good for when you're feeling overwhelmed by tech or too many thoughts at Video example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VwufJrUhic (3:20 - 4:56)
Notes: A lot of the videos I've found online have an awkward hand posture. I'm not sure it's necessary. The general idea is to close one nostril at a time and alternate breathing.
Bhastrika / Bellows breathing (BB)
Benefits: Good for energy.
Routine: 3 sets of 20 BB. Rest* 30 seconds between sets.
Video example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DByVSR2fX0k&t=1s.
Notes: It might look a little funny, but it's worth a try. If you can, I would recommend sitting in vajrasana (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajrasana_(yoga)). No worries if you can't sit like that.
Rest means sit with your eyes closed and breathe normally. Rest your hands on your lap palm facing up.
Ujayyi Breathing (UJ)
Benefits: Really nice and really subtle breathe you can do anywhere. This is actually a very useful breath to be aware of.
Routine: 2 minutes UJ. Rest* 1 minute. 2 minutes UJ.
Video example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwEdfOuhoY4
Notes: Foundational breath for yoga and pranayama (pranayama means breath control)
I personally do pranayama (3-stage pranayama w/ UJ breathing) with bhastrika and a kriya breathing exercise (SKY breathing) every morning. I also occasionally do alternate nostril breathing before meditation. This is something simpler, though, that I think anyone can try out and see if it works for them or not. There are also a lot of other good comments in this thread, but this is what I have personal experience with.
No need to overthink any special technique. Just breathe slow, and try not to breathe too shallow. Do it as an exercise for a few minutes. Breathe with the stomach (not chest), like a baby would.
One book I particularly recommend is “the healing power of the breath” , the exercise is very simple, basically just establishing a rhythm that works for your body type, and then you are good to go.
Thats not to say there’s not value into the pranayamas (breathing exercises) of yoga, but for pure efficacy just establishing a good rhythm is actually easy to learn and use.
A)focus on the breath, or a part of the body affected by breath like your lips or chest or stomach
B)diaphragmatic breathing in thru nose and out thru mouth
C)inhale for x seconds, hold for x seconds, exhale for x seconds, hold for x seconds, repeat
And over time train x seconds to become longer and longer. You might start with 4 or 6 seconds at first.
I am VERY interested in your techniques,
and I'm sure many others will benefit directly from your wisdom if you choose to share it.
Do you have a video?
I can heartily recommend the book “the healing power of breath” , easy technique (adapted from yoga) and no need to think about all sorts of steps, just the breath rhythm you need to “get” It also comes with audio tracks.
Also Look into the books or talks (on YouTube) by Dr. Chris Willard
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUKjuni-6l8 (the breathing exercises start at minute 9 and go up to minute 24 or so). I don't do the exercises that follow it nor listen to the chanting before it.
Your CO2 levels drop, which inhibits your body's blood pH regulation. An increased blood pH leads to fuzzy thoughts, pinpricks all over your body, headaches, etc. Longer term, all kinds of aches start popping up. (Bloating, acid reflux, etc.)
It's difficult to fix something that you did unconsciously before. If anything, paying too much attention to your breathing works against you.
I have no real point here, except: breathing is important. And, if someone happens to read this and has some advice: let me know. :-)
You practice breathing with this thing 4 times a day, ten breaths a session, and track the volume of your inhalations. In order to get the number to go up you need to take long, deep, and slow breaths.
It will give you a clear numerical result to track. 4 sessions a day, 10 breaths each, record your measurements, plug them into Excel, get an average going and work on driving it up.
I also feel like there's potentially a market for a digital incentive spirometer that could help people do these things. Especially if problems like this are somewhat common.
Pilates/yoga were good for core strength and stretching. If you want to start at home Yoga by Adriene on YT is very beginner friendly. I was never a fan of cardio or strength training but I did a bit of that too (it was a gym with various classes and instructors).
Also got a dog, it's a great excuse for daily walks.
One day I realised I was actually resting my head on the headrest in the car and wasn't uncomfortable. Until then it'd never felt right and made my throat feel tight at the front. I still have a way to go though, I have back issues and you don't fix 15 years of bad posture in 3 years.
Edit: I'll add after reading the other reply, at the start it's a struggle just knowing what good posture is. It doesn't feel right and natural, because your version of natural has been modified. You don't know how it's meant to feel. I found that exercises which exhaust certain muscle groups helped a lot. They gave up some of their grasp and let other muscles work. After a really heavy workout sometimes my back felt looser and more mobile and this helped me learn how it could feel.
Poor posture can be slowly changed and it is life changing, obviously worth it.
Surprisingly the tongue has some major effect on posture, especially on forward head posture. There are all sorts of tongue exercises that benefit breathing, posture and even the looks. Tongue should be basically resting behind top front teeth and slightly press up the palate. For exercises look up muscular imbalances and see if you identify any on your posture. But all things start at the feet though, if feet have a problem the whole chain up gets affected so pay attention to the whole body.
I wonder how accurate an app could get with movement detection if you lie down with your phone on your chest. Probably not very, but might be useful.
I bet there are interesting subtle dynamics beyond rate. Maybe interesting to record the acoustics inside the spirometer.
What's the product model? Prescription digital behavior change??
I imagine the digital version using a range finder at the top of the tube to calculate how high you raise the thing you're raising by breathing in and then calculate and report the volume of air you inhaled.
If you combine this with an app you've got a little product going. App can track progress over time. Show you some graphs. Remind you to use the spirometer.
Sell the digital spirometers to hospitals who sometimes give them to patients who have respiratory problems. Get some data to prove the digital version works better and then get insurance companies to cover it or buy it.
I want to try this. If you're happy with yours can you link to it? (everything I'm seeing is either under $10 or over $20 so I'm not sure which way to go)
As for being happy with it - yeah pretty much. It's not like it's mind blowing or anything and I've not tried any others to compare it to, so take that for what it's worth, but it works.
I keep mine next to my desk and use it when I'm bored or need a moment to think. I tried following the recommend pattern of use in the instructions but didn't stick to it for very long. Now I just use it when the fancy strikes me.
Do NOT do breathing exercises to curb anxiety, because that will just reinforce the pathways in your brain and your anxiety will keep recurring.
If you're noticing you're mind is dwelling on anxiety-inducing thoughts you need to refocus on your current task.
Just keep doing that whenever symptoms popup.
The symptoms will popup less and less frequently, and you'll have developed such strong coping mechanisms that you automatically handle the issue.
This is approach is called "cognitive behavioral therapy" or CBT, and is an evidence-based approach used widely. You can consult a therapist and get taught CBT skills by a professional. (That's what I did)
In addition to learning CBT techniques, and get regular exercise and enough sleep. I recommend you cut out all caffeine until you have developed strong CBT skills. Of course, rule out any underlying medical issues and work on any medical conditions (obesity, bad posture).
Once you're comfortable you have anxiety under control you can slowly re-introduce caffeine.
Source: I used to have severe and debilitating chronic hyperventilation and anxiety, but sought help from a CBT therapist a few years ago. Now when I am living my life and notice I've started hyperventilating (or dwelling on an anxious thought), I can immediately stop it by refocusing. It's changed my life and I highly recommend learning the CBT techniques.
I highly recommend a few sessions with a CBT therapist. If you're not in a position to do that you might be able to learn about CBT techniques from elsewhere, such as YouTube.
I tried it for years with multiple psychologists and had no progress. Eventually, I found a great psychologist who helped me with a blend of IFS ("internal family systems") and mindfulness to help me not constantly unknowingly suppress feeling and allow me to be present and process emotions.
There's lots of approaches out there, so if anyone's not making progress, try out some of the others!
This sounds speculative. Is there actually empirical evidence that this is the case, or at the very least that intentional, focused breathing exercises interfere with handling anxiety?
This is also why I recommend the book “the healing power of breath” its one of the best books I found on the topic without confusing you with all kinds of techniques and so on.
Basically in the beginning you practice 20 minutes a day in rest, so your bodymind starts to adapt to it, and it may overcome the causality that leads to anxiety.
Usually I'm relaxed in the morning, then go to work, enter a state of flow / complete focus, then at the end of the day I'm anxious (this becomes worse when I enter the supermarket for my evening groceries, even as I continue to think about work) and my breath is messed up (short, shallow breathing).
How would your method help here? For me it seems there is a contradiction, or not? Could you explain?
With that said, the CBT advice would be to recognize that thinking about your work in the evenings is causing you anxiety, so to stop getting anxiety you should refocus on the task at hand (shopping for groceries) and stop thinking about work. It's OK to let your mind wander while you shop for groceries, but CBT is about catching yourself when your mind drifts back to a topic which causes you anxiety (your work), and then using the task at hand (shopping for groceries) as a tool to basically distract yourself.
How you can make thinking about work cause you less stress is a different question. My personal advice is to try exercising after work, you'll feel very relaxed after. But if you're finding you're still stressed after work, my suggestion would be to seriously considering stopping your thoughts about work after hours (again, by catching that you're thinking about work and refocusing). Chronic stress kills.
Without knowing the root cause in your case, the only thing I can suggest is to train yourself to breathe right while your figure out the underlying cause. The Breathing Retraining chapter of the PTSD Handbook  is the best resource I've found for this.
I suggest you see a psychiatrist as chronic hyperventilation can be related to mental health issues.
Feel free to PM me. My email is on GitHub.
Best of luck
As someone who taught yoga and is familiar with overbreathing, they teach a very simple technique and the writers have a lot of experience.
You actually practice for twenty minutes a day at first, and the technique is very simple (so you don’t get lost in all kinds of details) Once you get the right rhythm for your body type you’re good to go.
' Oxygen deprivation tents or “altitude tents” are risky at best. '
But I see their use and that of other athletic oxygen deprivation gear.
In all fairness, our swim team used to do freestyle "hypoxic" drills. For example, we would breathe every other swim stroke for a pool length, then every 3rd stroke for a length, then every 4th stroke, ... until we failed. Once we failed we would fall back to breathing every other stroke. Nobody, to the best of my knowledge, ever passed out but one could feel the hit to one's brain when the O2 level got too low (or the CO2 too high, or whatever).
Those drills were uncomfortable, to say the least, and I was never convinced that they did much good. OTOH they did help me to relax in holding my breath under circumstances where breathing was not possible (e.g., in turns and underwater pushoffs where you might not breathe for nearly a pool length, and they trained me not to panic b/c I needed a breath. I suppose that, thanks to such drills, I might be a little harder to waterboard than the usual suspects, but I chose a less exciting line of work!8-))
* systemd-resolve --status -> 188.8.131.52 (my ISP)
* dig archive.is -> 184.108.40.206
* whois 220.127.116.11 -> Serverio technologijos MB
* Firefox -> Preferences -> Network Settings -> DNS over HTTPS: enabled
I don't recall doing that...
Unbelievable! Apparently Mozilla unilaterally enabled DoH in my browser sometime within the past 2 months without so much as notifying me! WTF?! This sort of thing is completely unacceptable no matter how pure their intentions might be.
Once you know what they're talking about, it had a No Thanks button right on it. IMO I don't like browser DNS myself but their rollout is/was okay by me.
Let me fire up the ol' rant machine...
Ah fuck it... It's too early in the morning.
- - - -
In the great order of things the "megabar" isn't that big of a deal.
I personally hate it, but that's just me.
Objectively it's bad UI for a few reasons, but I don't want to write a big screed about UI design.
At the root of the problem is what dude said above: their attitude stinks.
They activate it without consent.
They remove the option to disable it.
Mozilla has become a caricature of itself. They were already just a fig leaf over Google's hegemony (They get 85%-90% of their money from Google and send telemetry to them by default.) Now it seems like they are adopting the same patronizing and distant stance.
I hate to say it because I used to really like Mozilla and I even have some friends working there so I know it's a bunch of really good, committed folks over there, but to me their progress and process have become retrograde along the dimensions I care most about.
And I put a lot of it down to reading about breathing in for 2 steps then out for 3 (the total is an odd number so you change sides, so 3/4 is good too). Thanks for whoever wrote that blog post! The process really focuses me and it's like a drumbeat in my mind. If I sprint it changes to 1/1 or less though, and I stop using the nose!
My "regular" breathing pattern (i.e. the one I use to run at medium-hard paces for long distances) is:
nose-in, mouth out: in, out-out, in-in, ooout.
1/4, 1/8, 1/8, 1/8, 1/8, 1/2.
I attenuate the BPM to my pace: on high intensity runs, I usually can get away with raising the BPM, but the last 1/2 is very hard and I sometimes break it into 1/4 out, 1/4 in (more oxygen). For sprinting, any pattern goes away, and it's 1/4 in, 1/4 out. Still nose to mouth, but I think the optimal solution here depends a lot on the shapes of your nose/mouth. :)
And most people think running is just putting one foot in front of the other! :)
To some extent it is of course, but these kinds of cadences are necessary to run effectively, which I guess is different from just running.
True story :)
I guess it helps that:
- My name is mettamage (metta = loving-kindness in Buddhism). So I'm into this stuff (read search inside yourself for the science on meditation).
- Like Wim, I'm Dutch: Nederlands is mijn moedertaal en ik ben pienter genoeg om Engels te spreken ;-) Soms ben ik een flierefluiter ^^ (Google Translate won't get that right, haha)
- I have mentioned it before (it's somewhere in my HN history).
TL;DR - what I did in Poland for 4 training days:
1. Breathing Techniques: the most important one is a lot like hyperventilation but not the same (!). Explanation: I couldn't find a good YouTube video quick as even Wim himself isn't explaining it well on YouTube, IMO. He explained it way differently than me. The WHM is a lot like this video, except it's quite quick and not this seemingly relaxing breathing stuff: https://youtu.be/nzCaZQqAs9I?t=137
2. Cold exposure training (including breathing technique)
3. Walking up a mountain for 2.5 hours (-7 degrees celsius) in my shoes and shorts. I was fine. It was a lot of fun as well. The adrenaline was high and insanely awesome. Thrill seekers love this stuff.
Then afterwards we got tested with an endotoxin. Normally you get an immune response. People who did the WHM had a 50% reduced immune respons and a lot of adrenaline. They think it's because of the shit ton of cortison that we produce while doing the WHM. A lot of cortisol --> weakened immune response.
A YouTube video about the science of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWHRumILOOk
The WHM made me a 10% happier person because I never have to worry about the cold ever again. The cold can be uncomfortable still, but it's a lot of fun because I have some control about it now!
Then it would seem reasonable to throw out what he says and wait to see what, if anything, comes from research he inspires.
Go to Google Scholar and look it up.
I just re-edited my whole thing (behind a laptop now).
For other HN people I did mention pre-edit: "Wim is crazy. The people studying him aren’t."
Enough research has been done, as far as I'm concerned it's a case closed.
The WHM does things that we couldn't do before (e.g. be more resistant against the cold). Now we can, more research is needed to fully understand it. For people who dismiss it, they simply haven't taken the time to watch some doctor explain it on YouTube in-depth. And I get that, but then don't say it's BS, simply say you're sceptical.
I'm the first person to burn occult things to the ground as I hate nonsense. This seems occult, but it isn't. It doesn't help that Wim acts like a guru, but what he does can be rooted in science. He roots it in science by asking scientists to research him. From his perspective that's all he can do.
Here is an amazing summary on the research of a sceptical doctor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6EPuUdIC1E&t=2285s
I don't mean to sound offensive, but you sound exactly like one of those sleazy occult (or MLM) salesmen that's trying to bullshit me. On the other hand, if this works then great!
All conversation starts with breathing and we pick up on all sorts of signals even when people are trying to pretend otherwise
I've often said whoever controls the breathing controls the conversation and I say this as a former professional conversation instructor
People don't take hardly enough advantage of their lung capacity maybe with COVID we'll start taking this into consideration
I have a story to relate
I was working at a large private software company, the largest in north America think SalesForce but not SalesForce
The CTO was giving what was intended to be a pep talk but for some reason maybe nerves maybe he wasn't warmed up on the mic we could hear his wheezing breath
Nobody paid any attention to the message all anyone could talk about was the quality of his breath -- anything he had to say was completely lost
This article is another example of the mainstream only now catching up to things which we all know and have known for ages
People communicate on the level of subconscious and physiological signals and it's useless to pretend otherwise
1. Always breathe through your nose. Even when you are jogging/cycling heavily.
2. Try to hold your breathe for elongate period of time.
3. Try doing 2 while walking/running/cycling.
5. Pushing the breathe out and then holding is better than taking the breathe in and holding.
...works for me every time
Some call it zen, some call it breathing exercises or whatever. Try it.
More on that topic here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22656799
Does anyone have a guide to how to actually do these exercises?
The actual exercise just involves inhaling through the device, for a couple of minutes, and over the course of days/weeks/months working up to higher resistance levels. It's hard work, and it bugs me that it forces you to mouth-breathe, but it will strengthen the muscles.
The linked study does 30 inhalations per session.
There is, anecdotally, definitely some underappreciated value in slow breathing. Feeling anxious (for whatever reason)? Check your breathing and slow it down. Maybe throw in some alternate nostril breathing, though I'm not sure if it's the distraction that does it or the breathing. Light asthma attack and wheezing? Check your breathing, slow it down, maybe add some pursed lip exhalations. Major asthma attack? Inhaler :-).
But in spite of the improvements I've made to breathing while I'm awake, I still managed to develop sleep apnea. You win some, you lose some ...
There's a fair amount of peer-reviewed research on the benefits of mindfulness meditation, and it doesn't seem all that unlikely that exercising your brain in different ways really can help your brain function differently.
How might someone conduct a blinded placebo controlled trial of a suicide prevention campaign, or of parental advice to help reduce risk of cot death, for example?
They wouldn't. They'd roll up their sleeves and get deeply involved in the messy, unpredictable world of human emotion and social interaction.
And that's good and appropriate, and there are effective and responsible methods for doing it.
Just because we can point to something and say "aha, that's subjective" doesn't mean we need to eliminate it. In fact, the more we try to eliminate it, the harder it becomes to translate evidence from the lab to the real world.
Objectivity world be nice, but it's vanishingly rare.
I think that OP meant to ask "is it possible your perception has changed with age/experience, rather than with your methods?"
So i should choose carefully.
I have also noticed that whatever defaults i left childhood with are ridiculously hard to change.
1: Cells have two ultimate fates: they either fail to resist cancer or, if they succeed, eventually die of doing it, sort of wear-and-tear, i.e. "ageing" as we call it. Lookup telomeres and cancer. Therein lies the recent hype/hope of increasing human life expectancy by a lot, perhaps orders of magnitude.
Being able to control the "pause" was a crucial part of it, and the little bit of info I gleamed from it was helpful for me.
it's very interesting, because i always find that i'm instead almost always holding my breath for some reason. not sure if that has anything to do with doing these exercises or not, but im always taking deep breaths randomly because i dont realize that im sort of out of air
> "Having a control pause of less than 25 seconds is poor and 25 seconds to 35 seconds means there is room for improvement. The goal is to reach a comfortable breath hold time of 40 seconds. The average control pause of students attending our clinics is around 15 seconds."
5 seconds feels like a long time, 15 seconds is as far as I could go first couple of tries, 20-25 seconds my upper body/throat gets twitchy trying to reopen, then I pushed it to 30 seconds a couple of times, and just now 40 seconds.
I'm suspicious that something I can go from "poor" and "average" to the goal(?) in about 10 tries can be so serious - unless you're supposed to be able to do that between every breath?
I also did meditation on and off for years, without much benefit. Then I went to a 10-day silent meditation course (the free Goenka one). On the third day it clicked. Now meditation is extremely useful for me. My life has improved a lot since then. I meditate about 4-5 one-hour sessions per month.
Furthermore, I can observe personalized effects over long time spans - e.g. change in physical condition after lifting or getting enough sleep for x amount of time.
That is the exact same approach to meditation, what is your qualm?
Furthermore, I am yet to hear someone explain these depths in meditation that everyone seems to allude too. As far as I know it's "sit still, focus on one thing or push away all thoughts." Or chant a mantra, if you want to pay for Transcendental Meditation lessons which come up with a personalized mantra that makes zero sense at all.
Can you see what I'm getting at here?
EDIT: Sorry. Originally said "what I'm driving at here". It's been a long week and I'm subconsciously making bad puns.
Agreed that genuine understanding is more useful, of course -- but correctly choosing which authorities to believe (and with what level of confidence) is often a necessary second-best. How many things do any of us truly understand in full detail?
> How many things do any of us truly understand in full detail?
Can you visualize the mechanism? You either do or you don't. Maybe the visualization is misleading. Maybe it's not. But if you're at least doing the motions there, you're revising the mechanism rather than reinventing the wheel from scratch.
Not sure if I understand you here (I don't get the 'trainspotting' reference), but: in a world where not jumping in front of trains was fatal, parents would instruct their kids to jump in front of trains, and the ones who took their advice would survive.
In a world where it didn't matter so much either way, who knows, maybe some parents would needlessly forbid their children from jumping in front of trains. So the kids who didn't blindly follow their parents' advice might benefit from their curiosity. But if they made a habit of ignoring their parents' advice until they fully understood the reasoning behind it, they would do a bunch of other stupidly dangerous things and probably die.
> Can you visualize the mechanism? You either do or you don't. Maybe the visualization is misleading. Maybe it's not. But if you're at least doing the motions there, you're revising the mechanism rather than reinventing the wheel from scratch.
I think there's a big gap between having some kind of mental model, and having a sufficiently detailed, accurate, robust mental model to make independent judgments in important contexts. Sure, a rough high-level understanding can be useful as a preliminary bullshit detector, pinging for things that should be taken with great scepticism pending further investigation; but unless you understand a topic in full detail, you're always at risk of making 'logical' deductions that fail because of unknown (to you) unknowns.
> You shouldn't be surprised when none of these things "work" -- do you even understand why they should?
Understanding is not required for many things. And in fact, the thing does work!
As an example, I do not actually understand why lifting makes me stronger. Why do muscles respond to increased resistance with more strength? Certainly my ankle ligaments didn't respond to injury with more strength. Well, I don't care and it doesn't matter. It will still work.
Maybe you'll get lucky. Or maybe, you'll wish you took the time to understand should you blow a disc in your spine. Is it possible that that you'd learn a bit more about the difference between bodyweight exercises and more than bodyweight exercises, and the requisite amount of care to do the two sustainably long term without incurring risks of debilitating injury?
But in my case I just paid a guy to tell me what to do until it became automatic habit.
If they were doing that, they could use a normal username. Signing up with a throwaway to post a one-line "doesn't work" criticism about something many people feel strongly about is much more akin to "trolling" than "sharing in earnest".
(As for the account, who knows -- maybe they correctly anticipated downvotes, but believed the comment was nevertheless worth making -- but it is several months old.)
I am extremely interested in the subject, but I am also interested in concrete results.
At the very least, those 10 minutes you're spending meditating are 10 minutes not spent doing something else. Whatever that something else is, would very likely have a different effect. So if anything, meditating is affecting you by displacing something else that would leave its own mark.
In some ways, I think "doing absolutely nothing" is the point of meditation, perhaps you're just not appreciating it yet.
Yes, meditation should deliver noticeable results. If it doesn't then you are doing it wrong.
Pretty sure many of those people simply aren't good at feeling themselves.
That said, the traditional texts are still hard to parse. I’ve considered writing a manual-to-the-manual of sorts that explains the same concepts but in a modern way. I should mention that Leigh Brasington has some really awesome content out there (videos, books, and articles). I am not a master meditator, but if that sort of a thing exists, Leigh is.
But as you have said there are many more techniques. I've heard the breath called a relatively difficult meditation object for beginners.
But you have to make the effort of reading the books (or finding a competent teacher) and then practicing the techniques hard enough and long enough for a fair appraisal. 10 minutes a day of instructions from Headspace is predictably useless. You can write it off at that if you like, but it would be like pumping a dumbbell for two reps a day and concluding that weightlifting is useless as exercise.
Oh, and I also don't do running or any other sort of exercise regularly. Felt awesome most of the time, and still do. Especially after eating ice cream.
‘If you feel so bad,
Like you’ve got to roar,
Take a deep breath (breath in, out)
and count to four’
We sing this a lot with our tantrumers and it works great :)
By dropping CO2 too low, you actually decrease brain and organ performance by binding oxygen too tightly with hemoglobin, starving your organs.
It's actually fairly rare for young people to have too little oxygen in their blood, but really common for them to have too little CO2, from over-breathing. By slowing down breathing, and most importantly, NOSE breathing, you normalize blood CO2 and restore cognitive / organ function.
blow out all the air from your lungs.
hold your breath and pinch your nose.
exhale more air (and more and more)
attempt to breath in through your nose (against the pinch)
hold your breath even longer.
(optional aerobic activity to use up the last oxygen (pushups, running))
when you can't hold any more (hold a little longer)
Physiologically internal parts will constrict to open up the airways.
Finally release the pinch and inhale only through the nose.
(airways open; ears pop, mucus loosens)
Basically hold your breath till you feel it becoming uncomfortable. Hold for just a few more seconds (but no need to pass out). A reflex will kick in and open your airways.
It was straightforward: encase mattress and pillows with waterproof covers (SafeRest & AllerEase), launder all bedding once a week on the hot/anti-bacterial setting, switch to furniture with non-fabric upholstery (Ikea Knislinge), and move to an apartment without carpet. Sleeping with a window open has also helped me a lot.
You can't digest wrong, or regulate your temperature wrong, or pump your blood wrong, etc. but you can breath wrong.
In some (sub-)cultures breathing is at the core of knowledge and health while in others it's barely understood, eh?
(FWIW, I suspect that volitional breathing must have something to do with spoken language, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to do other than speculate.)
When the amygdala (our alarm system) recognises danger it sets the sympathetic nervous system off which also mediates much of our automatic fight or flight responses, what we often describe as stress.
We have no direct conscious control over our amygdala, it’s a one way messaging system, apart from breathing (afaik). Breathing is one of the few ANS controlled functions that we have conscious control over.
In breathing slowly and deeply we decrease the rate we’re firing the sympathetic nervous system and increasing the rate of firing of the parasympathetic nervous system (muscles contract once, muscles relax for extended period).
I suspect this actually allows us some level of communication with the amygdala, perhaps allowing us to turn it off, or reduce it’s volume, which in turn would reduce the level of stress we experienced.
The Hindu‑Yogi Science of Breath
I have always had bad pollen allergies and I have always had moderate anxiety. I live alone. Great family and friends but over the past few months I was completely isolated.
One morning, I felt a tickle in my throat, I was able to tell myself that it was just from post nasal drip and not COVID related. Well, later that night I started to experience shortness of breath, chest tightness/pain. Then, my limbs started to tingle and go numb and lastly my face.
I walked outside for one and a half hours at 10:00 PM, identifying three sounds, three sights and three body parts. I finally calmed myself down from what I learned was an anxiety attack. I suffered multiple episodes of this for 5-6 nights. It was almost always triggered by a thought that I couldn’t breathe or I wasn’t getting enough air or that my chest was tight. It got to the point where I couldn’t function, broke down into tears and at twenty-six years old, I went back to my parents house.
I have been here for about a month. I had a couple minor episodes here, my parents were able to talk me out of it. I was also prescribed medication for the anxiety (so far this has been a tremendous help). One day, I didn’t feel anxious at all but I noticed that I couldn’t take a full deep breath most of the time. My parents told me it’s allergies, but the thought in the back of my mind that it was the virus or worse was always there.
I called my doctor again, he prescribed me singulair. It’s helped considerably but every time now that I take a deep breath I am extra thoughtful about it. I’ve been meditating and doing breathing exercises as often as I remember now and it has helped.
That being said, even if I don’t actually get the virus, this virus has taken a toll on me and my mental health. The isolation, not being in an office and hypochondria have negatively impacted me in ways I never would have imagined. However, I’m stronger for it now.
This read like my experience entirely. This whole thing has really taken a toll and before this I wasn't really one to panic about anything.
As to the therapist, I've had them off and on during particularly difficult times but nothing very long term and that has helped me so I think you're right it may be time to work out another couple month arrangement.
Some notes from my own experience: Anxiety meds themselves can cause shortness of breath. Withdrawal from anxiety meds can cause further anxiety. Benadryl to treat post nasal drip can cause difficulty breathing. If you're laying down a lot, especially after eating, that can cause heart burn which if you're not used to it you would think your lungs are burning.
If you can - get tested. It will improve your confidence and help you get out of the funk.
> One day, I didn’t feel anxious at all but I noticed that I couldn’t take a full deep breath most of the time.
What you experienced is called hyperventilation. It's when you breathe so much that you have exhaled too much CO2, causing a pH change in your blood. You then responded with fear that led to recurring panic attack (panic disorder).
I am surprised you didn't use the term 'hyperventilation'. Several years ago I had a similar episode, developing chest pain and recurring panic attacks (panic disorder) due to hyperventilation. In the past I also had moderate (to severe) anxiety.
It was debilitating, but I've resolved my issues with techniques learned through therapy. You might be interested in reading: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23279349
Is there a name or more information about this technique?
Focusing on _allowing_ the natural elasticity of my lungs take care of initiating exhalation -- this will usually be enough to change my mood in a positive way.