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!