Hackernoon logoThe Power of Taking Deep Breaths by@btantheman

The Power of Taking Deep Breaths

Brian Tan Hacker Noon profile picture

@btanthemanBrian Tan

Customer Experience (UX Research) Intern

Ever since I started listening to Tim Ferriss’s podcast in 2015, I learned about how he was a big evangelist of meditation. For those who don’t know, Tim is the best-selling author of the 4-Hour Workweek and 4 other books.

Tim talks about how he meditates for 20 minutes every day. Moreover, 90% of the top performers he interviews for his podcast have some form of meditation in their daily routine.

So ever since I found out about this, I downloaded an app that helped me to get started on meditation —the Calm app. It’s an app with short, guided meditations, and they let you try 7 guides for free.

My Experience with the Calm App

I used the app almost every morning for a week or two back in 1st year college. During that period of using the app, I did feel less stressed and more relaxed.

Each guide is about 3 minutes long. The guides take you through the exercise of clearing your mind, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth deeply, and focusing on your breath.

But after finishing the 7 guides, and because the subscription can be quite expensive for a student (It’s $5/month), I stopped the practice.

But of course, meditation is like exercise for your brain and mental health. If you stop doing it, you’re going to lose the positive effects of it.

So in junior year of college, when things started getting stressful again, and I was feeling unfocused and anxious, I decided to download a different app that Tim Ferriss recommended — the Headspace app.

My Experience with Headspace

The Headspace app is a lot better than the Calm app in my opinion. It’s more well-designed, and they give you 10 meditation guides for free.

They also give you a chance to try the 1st guide of multiple meditation packs they have. They have packs such as for helping you fall asleep, for relationships, and for anxiety.

They also have this free guided meditation they release every day. I’m not sure if there’s a limit as to how many you can listen to, but I’ve listened to multiple of them already.

The Headspace app, like the Calm app, is a great way to help you relax in the morning or evening and take deep, mindful breaths. And I’d have to say, there’s really something calming and powerful about meditation.

You get in touch with your body, your emotions, and your thoughts a lot more through meditation. You realize that just by taking deep breaths, you can calm your thoughts and your emotions.

This is a practice that I do now even without the Headspace app. I take deep, mindful breaths regularly. In fact, I’d say I take at least one deep, mindful breath a day these days.

The Power of Taking One Deep Breath

A quote from Chade-Meng Tan

I learned this practice of taking one mindful breath a day from Chade-Meng Tan, a Google pioneer, award-winning engineer, and best-selling author. He was featured in Tim Ferriss’s book, Tools of Titans.

Meng was Google employee #107, and he led the creation of a mindfulness-based emotional intelligence course for employees called Search Inside Yourself.

In the Tools of Titans book, Meng suggests three tips to sustain your meditation practice so you can do it regularly and unconsciously. Meng’s third tip is by far the most useful for me: to take one mindful breath a day.

“I may be the laziest mindfulness instructor in the world because I tell my students that all they need to commit to is one mindful breath a day. Just one. Breathe in and breathe out mindfully, and your commitment for the day is fulfilled. Everything else is a bonus.” — Chade-Meng Tan

After reading this, I practiced it often, and now I do it pretty regularly. I now do this whenever I feel particularly stressed or restless. I just inhale as much as I can through my nose, and exhale it all out of my mouth. And usually, I get myself to do more than just one, which amplifies the effect.

Of course, taking a Headspace guided meditation still has a better effect, but I now only use Headspace whenever I feel significantly more stressed than usual. For me, taking deep breaths, whether 1 or 5, is a lot easier and is usually enough already to make me less stressed and more happy.

So what are you waiting for? Give it a try.

So go ahead, try it out, even right now. Take one, deep, mindful breath. Inhale as much as you can, then exhale it all out of your mouth.

Make sure to listen to the sound and feeling of the air rushing inside your nose and filling your lungs, and listening to it slowly drift out of your mouth. A mindful breath is one where you’re in the present, and listening to the act of yourself breathing.

Do it after a hard test, or before, during, or after doing a paper, or even while in the gym, to rest from a workout. Taking deep breaths is incredibly powerful for me.

It might not help everyone, and full meditation guides might be more helpful for others. But for most people, one mindful breath a day can be enough.

So try it out, and try integrating it into your daily life. Let me know how it goes, and if it helps you in any way. :)

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Brian Tan is a 20-year-old writer, UI/UX designer and front-end web developer from the Philippines. He’s also the co-creator of HangTime— a web app built to help students create and share class schedules with each other. Get in touch with him at [email protected].


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