The first step in remaining masculine in life is mastery over the breath.
Because it is the most essential. It is the most obvious. It is the first, and in fact only thing we really and truly have ownership over. It was and is our first and most precious gift. We’re talking about the very ebb and flow of life, passing through us at every given moment and we can control over that ebb and flow.
It is very easy for me to get esoteric and sentimental about the topic of breath, for rarely do we as men pause to think about the power we’re receiving in every given moment through the medium of breath. This most simple of processes goes overlooked more often than not.
Perhaps because it is so simple.
And yet once a man begins to bring his consciousness towards the breath and influence it directly, he will see a profound difference in the quality of his life. I like to think about this as a micro to macro cosmic influence. When one has more control over the breath, he has more control of his reality. Though this may sound like a platitude. Platitudes have a strong foundation in fact.
However I don’t want you to just take my word for it. Let’s ground this mental model through a scientific lens:
The Science of Breath & Balance
One of the most powerful scientific reasonings for better awareness over the breath is in it’s relationship with the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the 10th cranial nerve and also one of the longest. It heavily influences the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, which is also called the ‘rest & digest’ branch.
This is especially significant when we recognise most people are living in a constant state of chronic stress. Blood pressure is up. Inflammation is up. Cardiac disease is up. Death is up. This is the antithesis of the parasympathetic branch. It is the work of the sympathetic nervous system or the ‘fight and flight’ response.
More simply put – we are out of balance in the outer world because we lack balance in our inner one.
The answer is therefore follows the simple state of affairs we’re describing.
I like to theorise that the state of our unfolding reality is influenced by the temperament of our breath.
If you’re feeling jaded, erratic, stressed and generally unbalanced. You will notice that your breath similarly reflects that state. You’ll have these profound realisations about the lack of breath awareness. Perhaps you haven’t even thought about the quality of your breath in weeks or months!
This modern neurosis follows a shallow, erratic and uncontrolled breath; if we do not wish to be like the sick masses we must therefore do the opposite:
Slow down the breath. Deepen the breath and only breath through the nose.
I have personally noticed that an increase of my awareness, deep and overall quality of life has calmed by racing mind and allowed me to influence my reality with greater outcomes. However it requires practice.
I recommend setting aside a small amount of time every day to retrain your body out of fight and flight.
I personally do 5 minutes in the morning. Inhale for 8 seconds. Hold for 8. Exhale for 8. Hold for 8. Then repeat.
This serves as a good foundation for optimal breathing patterns throughout the day.
And this is just the start.
There are far more secrets waiting to be discovered in the simple but powerful waters of your breath.