Back in the 1800s, for good or for bad, my grandfather was a minister to Native Americans in Washington State. Chief Seattle told him that "If white man continues in the direction he is going he will spend his life surviving instead of living."

Sadly, we are there.

Navy Seals and many others teach the box breathing or four-square breathing technique. Helps a lot in combat and super high stressed situations, to help calm down a bit and maintain focus. Survival, yes but not good for healthy breathing development for rest, digestion and healing. PTSD cause and release has a HUGE breathing component.

Here's how the four-square or box breathing technique works: You can vary the timing. I am just using Mark Devine's example from his great book Staring Down the Wolf

  1. Breathe in for four seconds.
  2. Hold air in your lungs for four seconds
  3. Exhale for four seconds.
  4. Hold your breath, lungs emptied, for four seconds.

Lots of folks teach that. Along with most of the rest of number count variations but it is not training for healthy breathing development nor based on healthy breathing fundamentals. The box breathing technique does slow the breathing down a bit albeit temporarily to lessen SNS, only it does not go even close to far enough for healing.

Slowing the breathing down via breath retention reduces the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) fight or flight stimulation but as Dr. Manga explains reducing SNS is basically what so-called "calming"' drugs do. What is most needed is to strengthen the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). When the PNS is strengthened the SNS naturally lessens.

Breath retention may or may not help CO2 levels and gives people the false sense about depth of relaxation and the right way to breathe for rest, digest and heal. A bit of quiet in the storm and better access to the neo-cortex area where your creative options and trained skills reside (think Navy SEALS combat and high levels of stress including distress).

My version of extreme box breathing stated simply is 18 in, 18 hold and 18 out 5 times in succession. We have a series of 20 advanced animations that are guided via gradients up to 40 but need to stay within the Optimal Breathing Window. To get to 40 requires owning our breathing kit and developing the breathing properly.

The little known fact remains. When it comes to calming, rest, digest and heal, PNS is far senior to SNS.

The Optimal Breathing Window will give you deeper insights into all this.

Do you feel like you can never get a deep breath? Watch and participate as I teach you how to take a non-stressful deep breath. Understand the phenomenon of the Optimal Breathing Window

Watch the video of OBW to break your patterns of unhealthy breathing.

With the box breath you greatly risk creating tension in the gut which of course Seals or cage fighters and other combatants have no problem with as their belly is hard as a rock/washboard, but that simply adds to the tendency to not be able to relax and let go in the belly area (even after the contest or war is over) which is where deepest relaxation resides and the absence of which invites a host of health and emotional/energetic challenges/disasters. Prescription drugs will not cure this as they only address reducing the over stimulation part, not the deeper easier relaxing breathing part.  

Majority of seals get divorces because they are very hard to live with. Relaxation is not an option in combat. Calming may be an option, but that is not deep relaxation. They are VERY different.

“The Navy has the highest divorce rate of all the services. Among the Navy, the SEALs have the highest divorce rate. Read: Why is the divorce rate among US Navy Seals over 90 percent? - Quora

Good people but the stress takes it toll.. What is needed is rock-solid grounded parasympathetic based breathing that allows the body to rest, digest and heal. Otherwise the breathing pattern stays in partial or complete fight or flight.  OK, if you are a SEAL then survival is a very big deal.

Another reason why I integrate in my optimal breathing kit the voice strengthening as that can also weaken or strengthen the breathing foundation. For example, if you are an opera or classical voice singer, you need to relax your belly and, counter intuitively, as you get better at that your voice gets stronger.

Here is the best place to start and build on. Read ENERGETIC CALM: Transforming stress into alert well being.

The key is to slow down the exhale #3 so you get up to a higher count (I at age 78 can do 40 or more) and still have a passive exhale left at the end. Leak it out.

Then let the breathing decide when to inhale and repeat 10-20 times adding a number each rep, but never add a number unless you have successfully achieved/allowed the passive exhale. Stay with that number until you have achieved the passive exhale.

Can't emphasize this enough. Make sure you always have some passive exhale at the end of #3 where TENSION resides.

Start at 4 in, skip the hold as it helps create restrictive chest tensions, and 4 out, and build up slowly one number at a time and never try to exceed an exhale # that did not have a passive exhale left.

You may already be pretty relaxed, or at least think you are, but just see how you do.

The higher the number you achieve, the more relaxed you can be and the more it will stick/sustain.

Make 40 your ultimate goal.

That might take days to weeks.

You are learning quickly now.  Stay open minded and try our Optimal Breathing Mastery Kit

For more about bad breathing see Pranayama, Yoga and BreathingButeyko, and Box Breathing

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