Did you know there exists a rich tradition within human history of
integrating breathing practices and techniques into specific
disciplines, including those that support health and fitness…
enhanced mental or physical performance….and even religious and
spiritual practices, such as prayer and meditation.
For example, learning how to breathe properly and fully,
using your entire breathing apparatus, can help you quickly
and easily focus on any kind of mental or physical work you
are about to engage in.
Learning how to calm, slow and deepen your breathing can help
you overcome feelings of anxiety, stress, or anger which may
impede your ability to solve problems or overcome the typical
stresses of modern life.
Coupling breathing with specific types of visualization and
imaging can be even more powerful, serving as the foundation
for incredible improvement in specific areas of your life.
Today let’s focus on a simple but highly effective breathing
exercise that can help you stop stress or overwhelm in its
tracks and enable you to focus or concentrate better on the
task at hand.
Yes, this is for all of you “adult ADD’ers” – as in Attention
Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
I’ve got some experience with this. Our son Miguel has a
moderate to severe form of ADHD. We are constantly working with
him on developing and implementing simple strategies to help
him stay focused on his schoolwork or whatever task he is engaged
with….AND to regain focus or concentration more quickly when
he is distracted.
I know some adults with ADD too. My better half whs never
officially been diagnosed, but ADD certainly explains some
behaviors we see today (and explains a lot of thing from
chilhood as well). My brother WAS diagnosed with adult ADD.
Again, explains a lot from his childhood (especially from a
Now, I know there are some folks out there who claim that ADD
or ADHD does not exist, and that parents and school staff are
just looking for a way to medicate the kids so they sit still
and behave like they are “supposed to”.
Well, I can tell you it’s for real. We deal with it every day.
However, it’s possible to deal successfully with it, with the
right combination of behavioral strategies, clear and specific
consequences (both positive and negative), and, in some cases,
with carefully tested and prescribed medications.
The explosive increase in the number of kids diagnosed with ADD
or ADHD is mirrored by the increase in the number of adults
finally getting diagnosed.
However, from my viewpoint, the pace and expectations of the
modern world make every one of us ADD’ers, or at least sometime
Ever-present smart phones, iPads, and laptops mean we are
interrupted often with a new email, new tweat, new ping,
or whatever. And our internal wiring compels us to respond to
that ping or dong or song (whatever you have set up for your
alerts) because we are wired to (1) respond to rings and pings;
and (2) to move toward the novel, the break in the routine.
The result is constant interruption, leading to being less
productive and feeling like you can’t focus…leading to feelings
of overwhelm and not being able to get your work or other tasks
completed when you should….resulting in more stress and
strain and even less focus and concentration, and so on and on
in a terrible downward spiral. Unless….
Unless you arrest this process, nip it in the bud. And it’s
relatively easy to do, if you’re willing to take a few simple
First off, you’ve got to get a handle on the interruptions. With
few exceptions, you don’t have to answer every phone call, and
you don’t have to answer every email or tweat or twat or text
that comes in. So why are you chaining yourself to electronic
Instead, try scheduling specific times when you will check your
devices for emails, texts and so forth, and respond to the ones
you need to during those times. For example, many productivity
experts recommend checking email only two to three times per day.
Not only are you more efficient at working through and responding
to your emails. You’ll also get more work done because you are
focusing on the task at hand for blocks of time, and not allowing
yourself to be pulled away from it to check emails.
Only you can help yourself begin to detox from your electronics
dependency. However, I can help you with a second important
Using your breathing to help you regain control and focus.
In martial arts, particularly in more traditional styles, breath
control is taught throughout the training.
One of the best, yet amazingly simple, breathing exercises I
have used over the years is called “box breathing”.
Basically, you follow the 4 sides of a box or square to control
and regulate your breathing. It’s best to start out using a
count of 4. Here’s how:
-Breathe in for a count of 4; hold gently for a count of 4;
exhale for a count of 4; hold gently for a count of 4.
Seems easy, right? Well, it is deceptively simple. But it’s
packed with benefits.
Breathing and holding for counts of 4 doesn’t seem that challenging.
But you’d be surprised at how erratic and shallow your breathing
typically is – especially if you are feeling stressed, rushed, or
overwhelmed, or if you are working out hard and pushing yourself.
The simple act of controlling your breathing, both in terms of
pace and regularity, allows you to assert control over your
To really benefit, be sure to breathe in deeply, using your
diaphragm, and take a full breath.
When I say breathe deeply, don’t go overboard and try to suck
in a huge amount of air. This usually results in tightening
up and trying too hard, which is the opposite of what you want
Rather, breathe into your lower abdomen as you inhale. Allow
your stomach and sides to expand out. Hold gently, then
exhale fully. Again, don’t strain. Just make sure you have
pushed out all the air, then hold.
This method of breathing is quite enjoyable. It enables you to
regain mental control, reduce all that monkey chatter, and
focus and concentrate better. You’ll feel more in control and
experience quite a mental and physical boost.
AS you gain experience with box breathing, experiment with
changing the counts you use. For eaxmple, extend the amount of
time you hold your breath. Breath in for a count of 4, hold
for a count of 8 or 12, breathe out for a count of 8.
This specific count is a technique one of my Tae Kwon Do
instructors emphasized. We did it often during seated
meditation. It really helps you focus inwardly and gain
mental control.It’s also wonderful for developing greater
Technically you’re not following the box or square anymore,
it becomes more like a rectangle or quadrilateral. But you get
You should devote part of your time each day to the cultivation
of breath control and power. Making a small investment of time
in dynamic energy exercises – like the ones I teach you in “The
Secret Power of Dynamic Energy Exercise Course, Volume II: The
Dynamic Energy Routine” will enhance the results you get from
exercise, as well as your internal energy and focus.
Breathing is the direct and instantaneous way to tap into the
life force, the vital energy that flows through each of us.
Performed properly, deep breathing coupled with dynamic
exercises is a powerful method for accessing and flowing your
This type of dynamic exercise creates harmony between the breath
and the physical. Not only are you strengthening the muscles
associated with breathing. You also are creating and
increasing a sense of harmony and relaxation across both mind
It’s health-enhancing and life-extending. I strongly encourage
you to tap into the benefits that await you from investing just
a few minutes a day – or a few minutes at the start of your
You Can Do It!
“Transform Body Mind and Spirit with Dynamic Energy Exercise!”
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2014