Do you hold your breath when trying to concentrate?
Many do so, as if holding the breath helps to concentrate.
This, of course, is done unconsciously, but it creates physical and mental strain, which is absolutely unnecessary, not healthy, and disturbs the concentration.
You have to be aware of this tendency of holding 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 will have to breathe in.
While concentrating you should breath calmly and stay relaxed. This might not be easy at first, 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 concentrate more than a minute. Why do I hold my breath? Can you help me?”
As already said, it is not healthy to hold your breath while concentrating, as this creates unnecessary strain and disturbs your concentration. The act of concentrating is a mental act, not a physical act, so there no need to hold the breath, neither to tense the body, as many do.
There is an unconscious belief that concentration involves effort, and the more effort you put, 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 that involves concentration be careful not to strain your body and your muscles. This is totally unnecessary.
Concentration works better when there is no tension. Strain and tension is a waste of energy and disturbs your attention.
It’s okay that your concentration is not strong enough, and you are not able to hold it fixed on one thing 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 it and by 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 in order 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:
- Relax your body.
- If you are sitting down, sit comfortably, without straining your body.
- Take a few deep breaths before starting to concentrate.
- Focus on your body and relax each muscle, starting from your toes, all the way to your head. It need not take more then a few moments.
- When focusing breathe normally, even if you find it difficult to focus in this way.
- 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.
- 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 get rid of this unnecessary and unhealthy habit.
Do you wish to improve your focus and concentration? Here are few articles you will find helpful:
Do 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