Don’t Hold Your Breath When Concentrating

Don't Hold your Breath when Concentrating

People often ask, “Why do I hold my breath when I focus?” Do you hold your breath when trying to concentrate?

Many hold their breath as if holding the breath helps to concentrate.

This is done unconsciously, but it creates physical and mental strain, which is absolutely unnecessary, unhealthy, and disturbs concentration. This act of unconsciously holding breath strains the body. This is unhealthy and not required for concentration.

You must be aware of this tendency to hold your breath, and when it happens, relax your body and start breathing normally. After all, how long can you hold your breath? After a little while, you will feel strained and exhausted and have to breathe in.

While concentrating, you should breathe calmly and stay relaxed. This might be challenging initially, but if you keep trying, you will eventually succeed.

A Question about Breathing and Concentration

Someone has asked me the following question:

“Whenever I want to concentrate, I have to hold my breath. Otherwise, I can’t concentrate properly. The problem is I want to concentrate for more than a minute. Why do I hold my breath? Can you help me?”

“Why do I keep holding my breath?” seems to be a common question many ask.

As already said, holding your breath while concentrating is unhealthy. It creates unnecessary strain and disturbs your concentration. Focusing is a mental act, not a physical act, so there is no need to hold the breath or tense the body, as many do.

There is an unconscious belief that concentration involves effort, and the more effort you put in and the more you strain your body, the better your focus will be. This is an erroneous idea.

You need to be aware of this habit and undo it.

Whenever you do something involving concentration, be careful not to strain your body and muscles. This is totally unnecessary.

Concentration works better when there is no tension. Strain and tension are a waste of energy and disturb your attention.

It’s okay that your concentration is not strong enough, and you cannot hold it fixed on one thing for more than a moment. Don’t fret about that because you can change this. What you need is to train your mind and attention.

You train your physical body by exercising and going to the gym. You need to train your mind in the same way if you wish to improve your concentration.

The body needs oxygen. The mind needs oxygen. They need it to function in the best way. You can focus your mind better when you breathe normally, not when you hold your breath.

Do not Stop Breathing when You Focus Your Attention

Now you ask, what should you do? How to stop tensing your body when you need to focus your mind?

When you need to focus your attention, do the following:

  1. Relax your body.
  2. If you are sitting down, sit comfortably without straining your body.
  3. Take a few deep breaths before starting to concentrate.
  4. Focus on your body and relax each muscle, starting from your toes all the way to your head. It need not take more than a few moments.
  5. When focusing, breathe normally, even if you find it difficult to focus this way.
  6. You might feel unable to focus your mind if you don’t hold your breath, and you might find that you instinctively hold your breath. If you keep holding your breath, you will not be able to focus for long since this is tiring.
  7. Whenever you realize that you are holding your breath, start breathing again.

You need to pay attention to your breath every time you concentrate. If you keep doing so and follow the above simple guidelines, you will gradually eliminate this unnecessary and unhealthy habit.

Remember, concentration does not require holding your breath. In fact, this could be distracting and exhausting.

Do you wish to improve your focus and concentration? Here are a few articles you will find helpful:

The power of concentration
Concentration exercises

If you wish to improve your concentration and focus, read our book, Focus Your Attention.

“Deep breathing brings deep thinking, and shallow breathing brings shallow thinking.”
Elsie Lincoln Benedict

“Breathing well means breathing more slowly and deeply. Relax, feel your breathing, and breathe comfortably. Once aware, it naturally becomes deeper and slower.”
Ilchi Lee

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

“As you breathe in, cherish yourself. As you breathe out, cherish all Beings.”
Dalai Lama