There are two approaches to learning how to return your breathing volume to normal levels. The following is the easier version.
• Sit up straight.
• Bring your attention to your breathing.
• Concentrate on the air ﬂowing into and from your nostrils. Feel the air going in and coming out of the nose. Watch, feel and listen to this for a few minutes.
• Can you feel the air? You might feel cold air on the inner part of your nostrils as it enters your body. You might feel warm air leaving your nostrils.
• You might feel the air moving over the top of your lip.
• Just follow your breath. If a thought comes in, as it will, just bring your attention back to the air passing through your nostrils.
• Keep bringing your attention back to your breath, over and over again. Don’t get upset if your mind wanders. This will happen and is the nature of thought. Keep bringing your attention back to your nostrils, over and over again.
When you notice your mind wandering, you are waking up. Before this, you might not have noticed. You might not have known what thoughts you were thinking. You might not have known the effect from these thoughts. After a few minutes, proceed to the next stage:
• Relax. Imagine tension dissolving from your chest and tummy while you reduce your breathing. As you relax, your breathing will reduce automatically.
• When you can follow your breathing, place your ﬁnger under your nose in a horizontal position. Your ﬁnger should lie just above your top lip, close enough to your nostrils so that you can feel the air ﬂowing but not so close that you block the air ﬂow.
• Monitor the amount of air ﬂowing through your nostrils.
• Now, breathe air slightly into the tip of your nostrils. For example, just take in enough air to ﬁll your nostrils and no more. Breathe in a ﬂicker of air (maybe 1 cm) with each breath.
• As you exhale, pretend that your ﬁnger is a feather. Breathe out gently onto your ﬁnger so that the feather does not move.
• When you breathe out, the more warm air you feel, the bigger you are breathing. Concentrate on calming your breath to reduce the amount of warm air you feel on your ﬁnger.
• As you reduce the amount of warm air onto your ﬁnger, you begin to feel a need or want for air.
• Maintain the need for air for about four minutes. It should be distinct without being stressful.
• You are taking in a small breath in (1 cm) and allowing out a relaxed breath. The overall movements of your breathing should have reduced by about 30% to 40%. Minimise the movement of your chest and tummy.
The need for air during this exercise should be no greater than at the end of the Control Pause.
Another way to describe the feeling you want is that it is like the same level of breathlessness that you feel during a mild walk. The only difference now is that you are sitting still. Knowing this will help reduce any panicky feelings that you may experience. Your need for air should be distinct but not stressful. If your need for air is not distinct, then further reduce your breathing. If your need for air is too stressful, then breathe a little more and allow your body to relax.
If you feel that you cannot grasp this exercise or if you feel too much discomfort, then concentrate on practising Many Small Breath Holds or simply walk with your mouth closed and generate the feeling of needing or wanting air.
As you practise this exercise, you should start to feel warmer as the carbon dioxide increases in your blood. This is good feedback and indicates improved blood ﬂow and oxygenation. If you don’t feel warmer, ensure that you have air shortage and that you are able to sustain it for four minutes at a time. Many people also feel their anxiety decrease after commencing this exercise. Their minds become sharper and their tension eases.
Every now and again, your mind may wander. As soon as you notice this, gently bring your attention back to your breathing and reduce it. Since this can happen every ﬁve or ten seconds, don’t give out to yourself if it is frequent. Your ability to keep your attention on your breathing will greatly improve with practise. Feel a tolerable but distinct need for air throughout the four minutes. In addition to improved oxygenation, each time you bring your attention back to your breath you are helping to tame your mind. You are dissolving your thought patterns and the more you watch your breath throughout the day, the more frequently your thought activity subsides and stillness takes over.