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A Breathing Problem of Hyperventilating

Hi John, Carla and everyone,

I read a post by anonymous who mentioned about "a breathing problem of hyperventilating". I thought I would post a suggestion on how to deal with this problem which I encountered before, too. The reason for hyperventilation might be that, instead of watching our breath, we try to manage our breathing - accelerate it or slow it down, make it kind of rhythmic, or in compliance with our counting speed, etc. That could lead (and surely led, in my case) to hyperventilation and even raising blood pressure.

To overcome this, I would suggest to try to let go of any control over your breathing. Just counting the in-breaths or out-breaths as they come, without making them regular or irregular or changing them in any way. Most often, when we start paying attention to our breathing, it gets more prominent and regular and even deeper. I think, the trick is to avoid it and try to "catch" your natural breath, as it would happen without you watching it.

Also, I found that John's suggestion of paying attention to the air flow as it goes through your nostrils - cool air goes in and warm air goes out - is helpful too. This technique (instead of paying attention to the movement of your chest or abdomen in your breathing, for example) naturally makes your breathing less deep and more shallow.

I hope it makes sense!

I wanted to add another suggestion about breathing. Before you start counting your breaths, when you have a quiet time by yourself, you can spend a few moments just watching/noticing your breathing. As John suggested, feel cool air passing through your nostrils during inbreath, and warm air going out during outbreath. After making sure that you are not forcing your breathing in any way, you can switch to counting.

This noticing of the feel of air movements in your nostrils without counting is easy to do "on the go," during walking, waiting for a bus or a train, standing in check-out line, even when you work on your computer. It doesn't require even a minute of your time or much effort, while with counting it's a bit more complex.

Counting requires more concentration, I think, and a specially dedicated time. But noticing your breath without counting might be a good supplement to it.

Hi Tamara,

From someone who has had anxiety pretty badly in the past and experienced the most unpleasant symptom of 'breathlessness' and 'inability to take in a deep breath', I find this post very helpful indeed. I still from time to time catch myself rather anxiously taking a deep breath in just 'to see if I can' and this is usually when I have a little anxiety. Focusing on my breathing and counting the out breaths was and still is a little unnerving for me because it does naturally make me want to control it. I understand the importance of doing it though, not just to gradually quiet my mind from commenting on every incoming stimuli but also for me to gradually loose my fear of 'breathlessness'. Suppose you could call it exposure therapy.

Thanks again

Matt

Hi Matt,

Me too, I found this breathing exercise very very helpful! Even regular thoughts (not heavily charged with emotions) cause changing in breathing pattern, forget about being anxious! smily. I read somewhere that our brain can attend/process consciously to one thing at a given moment (even though we are experiencing as if we are attending to many things at the same time). Therefore being occupied with our breathing, we get free from our worries, even for a moment.

Thank you!

Tamara

Thank you for the helpful ideas posted here, I have had much use of them.

I have measured the average length of my breath cycle at rest and found a new and fun use for my breath as stopwatch! Something that is just good fun and kinda cool (and it's pretty darn accurate - down to mere seconds on a five minute count).

Also I have noticed that sometimes the counting can go on even though my attention is elsewhere, like I'm tricking myself that I am paying attention when I'm actually not. So keep an eye out for that.

At times when I am in good shape and have practiced diligently I have had a sensation that the attention actually likes to go where I put it. Like a puppy running after a frisbee, rather than having to pull the puppy back by the leash which is kind of how it normally feels However this sensation has yet to occur at a time when I'm not practicing as much. It can also be other factors but how strong my muscle of attention is is my current hypothesis. Has anybody else had this experience?

Hi roed,

I'm familiar with the automatic counting you mentioned, or kind trick-focus, when my mind wanders during focus exercise. There's a confusion about focusing on doing something, i.e. counting your breath, and focusing on focusing, which is the objective here, in my mind.

I don't recall having the experience you referred to about the puppy-mind, though. I'm not sure I've figured out if I have the will to focus it someplace. My life is on autopilot. Lethargic. Does it require some kind of insight into it to get the purpose of mind to know where to put it at each given moment? Do you require an objective? A kind of order to the mind to know instantly what's needed?

Mostly I enjoy kind creative wandering of mind (amidst horror scenarios) and hesitate to interfere, but I suspect there's a world to discover about the benefits of focusing, but at the moment I lack the will and order, as well as clarity about what I want. Or perhaps lack of motivation would be more accurate way to put it. Like I was a blob without a spine or bones.

Hi Seppo!

I'm not fully on the clear with what you mean with focusing on focusing but my aim while practicing is to hold the sensations of breath in the foreground, counting in the background and to more or less ignore all else, to my best capacity.

I too have a lack of ambition. No goals and nothing to work towards leaves me with zero motivation to do almost anything. Maybe ambition will arise one day when the circumstances are right for it, maybe it won't. But as far as I can see it is beside the point because it can't really touch me this lack of ambition. And no matter what I feel I'm still here, life is actually happening. And if I needed a reason, goal or objective to put into my mind in order to practice focused attention this would be it. Just the undeniable truth of me being alive and an underlying urge to look at that and for this practicing focused attention helps.

I don't think you need an elaborated master plan about what the practice will give you. The idea about needing a goal or objective is only a thought and you can easily overcome such a distraction by just doing the practice. And yes I do believe you have the will to focus your attention smily

By focusing on focusing I mean that's its' a focusing practice, not breath-counting practice. The automatic counting as it somehow mattered shows that it then lapsed into just counting, not focusing exercise. Counting is not the objective, but focusing your mind instead. The subtlety of sensations in your nose demands a level of concentration, but it's a means to an end, isn't it?

Somehow this aimlessness bothers me. There's a kind of excitement about what can be achieved, or discovered with a good skill at focusing your mind. I can imagine the prospects. I also can see that it can be possible to enjoy life just as it happens, but there's satisfaction in goals and finding a purpose, too. I wonder, though, if this yearning for a task is an attempt at salvation through a purpose, or an escape? Hard to tell at this point.

Would you call weight training aimless? Or any other human activity focused on gaining skill in matters that have a physical component - like the monotonous training required to gain skill with a musical instrument for example?

It might be that feeling bothered by this aimlessness is a lingering symptom, and it needs no attention from you. The exercise of focused attention will strengthen and clarify your skill at recognizing what does and does not need your attention.Would you call weight training aimless? Or any other human activity focused on gaining skill in matters that have a physical component - like the monotonous training required to gain skill with a musical instrument for example?

It might be that feeling bothered by this aimlessness is a lingering symptom, and if so, it needs no attention from you. The exercise of focused attention will strengthen and clarify your skill at recognizing what does and does not need your attention.

John, thank you for commenting.

Certainly weight training isn't aimless, nor is attention focusing training. They're both practiced for a reason, but are beneficial even beyond the obvious. The kind of weight training I practice (High Intensity Training) is very slow, infrequent and brief but requires maximum all-out effort throughout the session and is practiced for strength gains as well as cardiovascular fitness, or just general health, but also teaches about discipline and going beyond your comfort zone. There are many benefits. Similarly with attention focusing, I assume. I'm yet to see concrete results, but I take your word for them. If my clarity on where my attention is wasted or even harmful grows, then it's obviously very beneficial, and if it hastens the departure of suffering from my life (this I believe I've already witnessed), similarly. But they're not aims enough for life in general.

I haven't watched your latest webinars so I might have missed something on the amount and frequency of attention training. I try to do it for 10 min daily before sleeping and another ten or so when commuting to or from work.

With aimlessness I referred to my life in general. I guess I wasn't very clear on that. It feels kind of waste to float along with this lethargy and lack of direction. I get satisfaction from a goal or purpose.

I have to admit that it didn't occur to me right away that it doesn't need my attending to it, even when it feels like a form of suffering. This is exactly the skill I need and would benefit from. Like I said above, the potential benefits of this skillfulness in one's life are huge, I imagine.

This feeling of aimlessness might rise at least partly from overall lack of enjoyment in life. If you're happy, or feel general satisfaction about life, you don't need additional purpose or justification to your life. I have many interests, but in the absence of motivational satisfaction from them I lack the energy. This seems to be a form of suffering.

Seppo

This feeling of aimlessness might rise at least partly from overall lack of enjoyment in life. If you're happy, or feel general satisfaction about life, you don't need additional purpose or justification to your life. I have many interests, but in the absence of motivational satisfaction from them I lack the energy. This seems to be a form of suffering.

This lack of ambition starts hurting my career. But I just do not have the energy for this fear-driven stuff, I just cannot force myself to do it. Not sure how this all ends. I have to support a family.

The aimlessness starts to harm me, or what I feel is my career. This scares me. I do not function that well any more. But I have have a family to support, I have taken high risks in pursuing something unique. But much was driven by fear. Now I lack the motivation-I just cannot do things that would be necessary to go further. This triggers deep rooted fears. So, what is the solution? Just focusing on the breath? I can do that, technically, but I am not sure it is the right thing.

 

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