Unlocking the Gates of Mindfulness Through The Power and Benefits of Nasal Breathing

Unlocking the Gates of Mindfulness Through The Power and Benefits of Nasal Breathing

I stumbled upon what’s called the Buteyko method years ago when my friend told me he swore by it as the ultimate panacea to his anxiety, back pain, you name it. Buteyko method is essentially retraining your breathing patterns to combat chronic over-breathing attributed to our sedentary, hunched-over sitting culture. From that, we lose our natural diaphragmatic breathing and move toward the less healthy and metabolically inefficient chest breathing. The Buteyko method revolutionized my perception of breathing’s importance and the fact that apparently, I was doing it wrong my whole life. It was a lot to handle to find out your lifelong belief was wrong (reminding me of the scene below); I didn’t realize there was a HOW to breathing, I just took it for granted that it was more of a binary pass/fail situation.

There’s a growing consensus suggesting that nasal breathing is better for you that mouth breathing, for various reasons from better blood oxygenation to increased nitric oxide production during workouts. Sleeping, walking, or working out, it appears you’re better off breathing through your nose. 100% nasal breathing during exercise is challenging, particularly during high-intensity workouts or sprints. It’s an adjustment that you can make though, as I have done it. If it’s not embarrassingly obvious to you already, if I can accomplish something, you really have no excuse.

The issue is, developing new habits can be an arduous process; consistency and motivation often dwindle. Learning how to hack your motivation for something is your best bet. For instance, I am more motivated by the fitness and health benefits of nasal breathing than I am by the anxiety-reducing and calm of mind promises of mindfulness. Like most things, we know what we’re “supposed” to do, but we still don’t do them for whatever reason.

“If information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” – Derek Sivers [BRIAN: This begs the question if there’s any use in this blog.]

The “hack” here is using the habit formation process for nasal breathing of constantly coming back to your breath throughout the day as a vehicle for increased mindfulness. Coming back to breath or any part of your body is an opportunity to pause and ingest the present moment, i.e. mindfulness. In effect, you’re killing two birds with one stone, but using your interest in killing the first bird to enable killing the second. Morbid, but hopefully intelligible.

The meta-lesson here is figuring out what motivates you, and how you can leverage that get to the other tasks on your list that have fallen by the wayside. I’m giving you 7 puzzle pieces to a 400-piece self-improvement set. Or do you think it’s closer to 3, or 30 pieces? Let me know below!

 

Your Environment Simplified: 6 Things to Consider That Could Be Make or Break Your Health and Hormone Balance

Your Environment Simplified: 6 Things to Consider That Could Be Make or Break Your Health and Hormone Balance

Male fertility has dropped all over the Western world. Sperm counts have fallen by half between the 1930s and 1990s and an additional third since 1904. If you’re buying and using normal, conventional products and taking life as it’s handed to you, you’re surely doing your health a deep disservice. If you’re looking at health through the narrow lens of food, diet, and sleep, let’s broaden your aperture.

I often complain/exaggerate that health is a full-time job, and this article will help elucidate that belief. Everything you come in contact with affects your health, for better or for worse. Common sense for most, but most aren’t properly accounting for everything they come in contact with. Let’s review the big hitters. Use this as a checklist to see where you may fall short and adjust accordingly.

Without it, you could be messing up your hormone balance and taxing your body’s detox system if you’re still using the run-of-the-mill crap out there.

Air (Indoor & Outdoor)

Both indoor and outdoor air quality plays a massive role in your health. Avoid busy, traffic-congested streets as much as possible (or at least live a fair distance from the heavy traffic and pollution areas). If that sounds too impractical then (reconsider, and) start with some easier wins: a high-quality air purifier and some indoor plants. Most furniture and upholstery contains formaldehyde, fire retardants, and other toxic chemicals that off-gas into your living environment – a no-go for your health.

Indoor Houseplants

Solution? Drape your house with plants. The Spider Plant and Peace Lily are effective for absorbing these toxins, but really kind any will do – at least that’s what my friendly neighborhood houseplant seller told me. I love plants because you only have to give them some water attention once a week and they’ll still love you.

indoor plant, houseplant

Air Purifier

A nice couple with your indoor nature-fest is a high-quality air purifier. HEPA is always a bare minimum. Beyond that, recommend brands are IQAir, Blueair, Austin Air, and AllerAir. Trust me, I’ve done my research, or at least someone else has and I leveraged their hard work. Keep one of those bad boys running in the background and you’ll be golden-er.

Breath

Take stock of how you are breathing. Ideally, you are breathing through your belly/diaphragm, versus your chest. If you’re diligent enough to do some slow, deep breaths as a form of meditation, focus on slowing down the breath hold and exhale. Simply put, the more you can prolong the exhalation, the better your body is able to detox itself via breathwork. If you find yourself sneezing after 5-10 mins of slow, deep, diaphragmatic breathing, you’re doing it right as your body is detoxing itself. This is baked into my morning routine for at least 10 mins a day. If you don’t have 10 mins, you don’t have a life. What if you have 10 mins but you still don’t have a life?

Sun

If you’re pounding the vitamin D and think you are good here, don’t let your eyes glaze over this section. Vitamin D, as with magnesium, is one of the power cofactors affecting so many of your metabolic functions that you’d be sorely remiss to miss this one. Beyond vitamin D, science is now proving that there are measurable benefits that you can only receive from direct sun exposure, as opposed to just taking a vitamin D supplement. Boosting mood, energy, and hormone balance/production, be sure to get at least 20 mins of sunlight, or stock up while it’s available to you.

sun, tanning, vitamin d

Water

As per usual, the process towards better health begins with elimination. Eliminating the chlorine, fluoride, VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and heavy metals in water is a worthy investment. These substances will drain your energy and tax your liver. We live in a toxic world and you’d be hard-pressed to avoid everything sabotaging your health, so the idea is to limit your exposure as much as realistically, still-have-a-life, possible. Brita won’t cut it here, though it will help with the chlorine.

A reverse osmosis water filter system is your best, most practical solution. I was fortunate enough to have a friend help me install the under-sink version, but if you don’t have a friend/handyman available, I recommend the Aquatru Countertop Water Filter. Quality you can afford, and install via not having to install anything.

If you really want to go the full nine, you can also get a shower filter as well since your skin absorbs the same toxic chemicals and substances in your shower water.

Chemicals & Toxins

The short answer is everything you come in contact with (touch, breathe, smell, and taste), has the potential to harm you. We’re at the point where there are pharmaceutical compounds in our drinking water from people pissing out all the prescription drugs we taking – ‘Merica at it’s finest. We either need to stop urinating or stop taking so many drugs, and I’m uncertain which could happen first. It may feel overwhelming initially, but once you buy and use the right natural products, it’s literally zero extra time to your day to manage this.

I provided you with a headstart on which healthier natural products to use for your home and bathroom care here, but if you want to dig through it yourself by checking your current products and comparing them with healthier alternatives, I recommend these resources:

Social

We’re wired to be social creatures, but more interesting to me, your social relationships greatly dictate your health. Social pain activates the same brain circuitry as physical pain, so think twice the next time your ego gets in the way of forgiveness or resolving issues in your relationships. The Blue Zone centenarians (people in pockets of the world with abnormally high longevity) all have social, family, and community as a big part of their daily lives. Instant messaging and phone calls won’t suffice, so go for the real, raw, and untamed.

If you have that energy vampire you need to cut from your life, now’s the time. Go find someone you at least marginally like and give them a hug, as it releases oxytocin. Connect deeply like your life depends on it because it does.

 

Hopefully this expands your awareness and understanding to better empower you to take control of your health and environment. Take stock of every person, place, or thing you come in contact with and make the simple tweaks in your favor. Most of the items listed above are set-it-and-forget-it solutions, so I encourage you to start chipping away. Post below if you have any questions, save for how to set up a reverse osmosis water filter system. Much love, more thanks.