Welcome to Day 2 of FitMind Meditation Program. Tranquil Breathing is not a typical meditation but rather a technique that would be used at the beginning of every session moving forward.
So how should we be doing tranquil breathing? Let’s hone in on the three most important aspects of breath, which you can use to achieve optimal physiological and mental states.
1. Full Diaphragmatic Breathing
For starters, breathe with your full diaphragm. Doing so will activate your rest-and-digest (parasympathetic nervous) system and remove stale air in the lower lungs. Breathing fully and deeply through your diaphragm will also give you maximum energy from the breath. If you want to see perfect diaphragmatic breathing, watch how a baby breathes naturally. We basically need to re-learn to breathe like a baby, as we did before modern life coded us to breathe in a shallow and disjointed way.
2. Smooth Breathing
Try to focus on making your breath as even as possible. The opposite of this would be to breathe in a lumpy, staccato manner, perhaps gulping in air to start and then taking in less air at the end. In other words, you want a steady flow rate, an equal volume of air entering your lungs consistently throughout the time you’re inhaling and exhaling.
Smooth Breath = Smooth Mind
3. Rhythmic Breathing
You want a fixed ratio of inhale to exhale. Whether this is 5 seconds in and 5 seconds out, or say 4 seconds in 6 seconds out, it should remain a constant ratio. The key is that you bring regularity to your breathing pattern.
What’s called your “resonant rate” is the ideal breathing rate for you personally, which involves taking longer breaths the larger your lung capacity (the taller you are). While most people naturally breathe at 6 - 12.5 breaths per minute, enhanced breathing has been found to be around 5 breaths per minute, which might be closer to 3 breaths/min if you’re taller. The resonant rate has a significant impact on your physiological state, influencing HRV.
Breathing in a diaphragmatic, smooth and rhythmic manner will bring you quickly into coherence. It can be helpful to practice this for 5-10 minutes before meditating, as well as throughout the day, especially when you encounter a stressful situation.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]