One Breath in One Minute Challenge

I have been meditating for many years and have tried many ways to be able to achieve a calm zen like feeling.

I battled the thousands of thoughts in my head when all I wanted were feelings of calmness and focus. Add to that the brain seems to wake up and register each little itch or twitch.

Meditation became a random practice of random results.

It was like I had two opposing forces battling to steal my attention and force me not to be calm.

My brain would race thoughts through my head. They demanded attention and seemed to take my down a rabbit hole of jumbled thoughts.

I tried many things to get zen state but my results where sporadic whenever I sat down to meditate.

Some days I would feel focused and calm but it would take 20 minutes to get to that stage.

The time was too much and I struggled to have a consistent result.

My podcast topics meant reading research material on meditation and brainwaves. I researched how breathing worked to help focus the brain and which parts of the brain it affects.

The gut-brain axis highlights the importance of the vagus nerve function. This allows the vagus nerve to change how the brain functions.

All research mentioned how you had to breath to relax the body and the brain. Breathing using the diaphragm was key to trigger relaxation in the body. This signal would then travel back up the vagus nerve to the brain.

Once the body relaxes the brain follows.

It was as simple as that.


Box Breathing Was Not Cutting It

All breathing methods spoke of box breathing, pranayama and various other complex methods.

An example of box breathing is where each part of your breath is a four second stage.

  • Breath in count one, two, three, four
  • Pause and count one, two, three, four
  • Breath out count one, two, three, four
  • Pause and count one, two, three, four

I realised box breathing wasn’t cutting it. Even though I got some results from it.

I felt oxygen deprived and it was time consuming. It became mentally demanding to maintain focus.

Then during a podcast interview with a guest I had a brain wave.

The long exhale is exactly like a sigh!

A sigh is the bodies natural mechanism to release stress. In some cases a way to brace you before doing something challenging or stress related.

Before a physically demanding task you take a deep breath and slowly exhale. Its a way of calming the brain and to help you focus.

This is where the magic happens.

One of the research articles talked about a breathing method that ninja’s used. The Japanese researcher measured how brainwaves changed when using this specific breathing method. He monitored participants who all were long term practitioners of the ninja skills.

The breathing method is known as Okinaga breathing.

There was one hurdle.

One breath was as long as one minute. The ninja’s were doing this for a minimum of 20 minutes to get to the alpha and theta brain wave state.

The research came up with one consistent piece of information. The longer the exhale the stronger the effect was on helping the body relax and destress.

There was very little online reference how to do the super long exhale or do one breath for one minute.

I became obsessed with learning this breathing method.

I practiced it and struggled to be able to manage a one minute exhale for up to 20 minutes.

A slow 20 seconds inhale is hard, you become oxygen deprived dong this,

Controlling the exhale for 40 seconds was even harder. Again I was using up oxygen trying to manage this.

I knew the exhale was working as shorter exhales allowed me to feel the relaxation response.

The research all proved that the signal via the vagus nerve from the exhale to the brain relaxed you.

But, how do I do one breath for one minute?

Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

Then I came across a hack watching a Youtube video on ways to trigger the vagus nerve. Stanley Rosenburg’s book about vagus nerve stimulation was part of this puzzle.

But how?

The Youtube video gave me the key to effortlessly control the exhale!

I now exhale for fifty seconds or more with no effort. My meditation has become a consistent practice to get me to the zen place.

My emotions are calmer and mental focus is better. My awareness and mindfulness has improved dramatically.

To prove this technique works and is simple to do I got a guinea pig involved.

My brother.

He has never done breathwork and the like man the pandemic has had its impact. He needed a way to manage his stress and feel more in control.

The first time I showed him the breathing method he was able to do a 40 second exhale.

I knew this would work no matter who did this.

The benefits of effective breathing allows you to reduce feelings of stress. Having a healthy vagal tone improves health. It allows for improved heart rate variability (HRV).

How would you like to reduce your stress and feel Zen like calm with one breath?

Get your free guide to the One Breath in One Minute Challenge.

A Cyber Security pro interested in psychology, cognition and learning with a passion for developing How to think.