You will take 25,000 breaths today. You might take 150 just reading this newsletter. Almost all of them will happen without your choosing. But unlike your heartbeat—it is both conscious and unconscious. You breath is special in that way.
There are funny things about breath we take for granted. Let’s do a little exercise: Which nostril are you breathing out of right now? If it’s your right, your blood is circulating faster, you are getting hotter, your cortisol levels are up and so is your blood pressure. If it’s left, it’s the opposite—your body will cool, your blood pressure will drop and you will feel more relaxed.
Today at Walden, we are thinking about our breath. Here are some helpful links and resources we’ve curated for you.
Wim Hof: The Iceman
One man who has discovered the power of breath is Wim Hof, AKA The Iceman. The Dutch man has consistently dumbfounded scientists with this temperature defying feats. He credits his ability to climb Mount Everest in nothing but shorts to his breathing method. Writer Susan Casey writes about the man and the method and her own experience practicing this form of breathing in Outside Magazine.
Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art
It turns out being a “mouth-breather” is more than just an insult—it’s opposed to good health. James Nestor writes about all the ways we can make life better by just focussing on how we breathe in and our in Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. The book makes it clear that those who breathe through their noses are far less anxious and unhealthy than their mouth-breathing counterparts.
A New Yorker profile on the world’s best free diver.
Alexey Molchanov is the world’s best free diver. He holds his breath and reaching depths of over 130m using the breathing technique is late mother developed. “He focused on taking long, deep, rhythmic breaths until his heart rate slowed and he entered a meditative state. Then he sipped the air through pursed lips until his lungs were fully inflated, from his diaphragm to the tiny air pockets between and behind his shoulder blades. Finally, he ducked below the surface, and disappeared.” But he was not born with especially large lungs. He reached these depths through practice.
A Meditation by Alan Watts
Alan Watts ~ Listen & Breathe (Guided Meditation)
Here’s a practice for you to try today—a breathing meditation led by the inimitable Alan Watts: