Remember To Breathe: Be Your Best With Breath Control

SEAL with sniper

The confidence of a SEAL using breath control

Remember To Breathe

The phrase ‘remember to breathe’ has been used enough times in the various realms of pop-culture over the past decade that it is viewed by many as a ‘cute’ thing to say. Advice in the wake of a stressful situation that can be passed off as nothing to worry about because of course you’ll remember to breathe…after all, you’d die if you didn’t.

Be that as it may, the truth of the matter is that remembering to breathe is actually one of the most important things you can do to prepare for any situation in life. Remembering to breathe, or more specifically controlling your breath, has been used as an effective tool by various practitioners through history. We can see its’ early origins in the ancient religions of the East such as Hinduism just as well as we can see it being used in the modern-day military.

Be Your Best

In the based on a true story 2014 film, American Sniper, Bradley Cooper plays the role of Chris Kyle, the sniper with the most kills in the history of the American armed forces. Early on in the film, while Kyle is still undergoing training, the movie lets us in on what is a genuine part of becoming a SEAL…learning breath control. I was pleasantly surprised to see the film reference this aspect of how Kyle became the legend that he did. Sometimes snipers have to wait for hours, or even days, for a target to move while they themselves remain stationary. The amount of patience this takes is enormous; but more impressive, is the ability to maintain a quiet and calm mental state when suddenly the target appears and it’s game-time.

”Feel the breath filling every cell in your body. This is our ritual. We master our breath, we master our mind. Pulling the trigger will become an unconscious effort. We will be aware of it, but not directing it. And as you exhale, you’ll find your natural respiratory pause and the space between heart beats”.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of recommended ways to practice breath control. The way of the SEALs is called ‘box breathing’…here’s how you to do it.

As a beginner, I’d recommend you sit upright in a wooden chair with a back.
Keep your arms relaxed with your hands resting gently at the top of your thighs (close to where they meet the hips).
Breathe in as much air as you can to the count of 5.
Hold your breath for a count of five.
Exhale forcefully for a count of five. At the end of your exhalation, you should have emptied yourself of air to such an extent.

I’ll leave you there for now, as the basics take a while to get comfortable with. Try starting off with doing this for 5 minutes. Once you can do that comfortably try 10. Be patient with yourself, as sometimes, the ability to focus almost solely on your breath is not so easy to come by.

If you’re able to, you’ll notice a increased sense of mental well-being and a decreased sense of stress. The SEALs use this to keep themselves cool when the tendency to be freaking out might be rearing its ugly head. Various religious groups and arms of psychiatric therapy use their variants of this for the same stress relief benefits.
Keep posted for more about meditation and getting yourself mentally fit; if there’s any aspect of this field you’d like to see covered, just leave a comment or shout at me on Twitter and I’ll know where to direct the next articles on this.