Fitness for Body, Mind and Spirit

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Fitness for the body, mind & spirit

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Thoughtful Thursday…What I learned from a Navy SEAL about breathwork


Welcome to Thoughtful Thursday. This GreenNote Fitness newsletter mindfully gathers and distills useful information that is supportive to our journey. It is my mission to educate, inspire, and propel you into action that moves you towards your goals and life of purpose. Take control of your journey today.

All of us attending the three day academy found our seats anticipating the beginning of the day’s lecture. Instead of jumping right into the work, we all sat still, closed our eyes, and began…breathing…in unison…five count in…hold five count…exhale five count…hold five count. Twenty minutes later our minds were clear and focused. We were ready to begin the day. The aforementioned is a breathing technique called "box breathing”. Former commander of the Navy SEALS, Mark Divine, and founder and leader of the academy I attended, has termed it box breathing because of its box-like ratio of inhale, retention, exhale and suspension. It’s used because it is safe, simple, and effective at creating a balanced, energized state, and calm, focused mind. We begin with the breath to gain control of our minds. As Divine outlines in his book Unbeatable Mind, proper breathing works three levels of the body:

  • It enhances our lung capacity and breathing musculature, strengthens our immune system and regulates our neuroendocrine system

  • It charges and balances our energetic body into a state of invigorated health

  • It clarifies and focuses the mind

I’ve been doing box breathing since I first learned it from Divine four years ago. Practicing breath control at this recent academy was by far the deepest understanding I have had with regards to the power of the breath. It really does bring clarity and calmness to the mind. It is something that needs to be practiced daily with focused effort. It goes like this:

  • Start by exhaling all of the air from the lungs

  • Inhale through your nose to a count of five and hold your breath to a count of five

  • After the retention, exhale the air slowly to a count of five

  • Repeat for 5, 10 or 20 minutes

In my practice which I do every morning, on the breath holds I repeat a mantra like, “Easy day. I’ve got this” or “Every day getting better and better.” This positive self-talk can help in other situations where you need to quickly change your state from negative and energy draining to positive and energy filling. This box breathing drill can be practiced while going for a walk, driving to work, at work, or waiting in line at the check-out counter. When done consistently and properly it can have a profound effect on your mind. You can get focused on what you need to accomplish rather it be a goal you are working towards or a stressful situation that requires calm thinking. Throughout the three day academy, we did breathwork at the beginning of the day, as "spot-drills" after sitting for a long period, and at the end of the day. What a powerful tool. As I mentioned, this was the most that I have understood and felt the positive impact breathwork has. In large part due to setting the intention to really connect, be present and aware. Practice with purpose. A little goes a long way. Enjoy your journey, Lisa Schaffer GreenNote Fitness You wouldn’t happen to know just one person that would benefit from this information? Please forward it to them! Did you miss last week’s newsletter on two tips to burn fat…and live longer...? P.S. Check out my Facebook page for inspiration. P.P.S. Discover GreenNote Fitness recommendations for books, podcasts, and more on body, mind, and spirit.

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