holding your breath for five minutes

4 Mar 24

By Dominic Byrne

Single Parent Getting After It

I have been enjoying my Wim Hof (WHM) breathing sessions for the past 18 months, they seem to give me increased energy and alertness. There is a feeling of stress reduction, there is something about the controlled hyperventilation that activates the parasympathetic nervous system. The holds can give you a natural high and prolonged energy with the increased oxygen to the brain. After the breathing, you’re relaxed but have improved focus and clarity. There is a super strong mind-body connection, through mindfulness and self-awareness. It’s a bit of a mood booster really, a great habit to maintain!

I’ve had a 50by50 goal documented for two years, a completely different breath-hold focus which is to hold my breath for five minutes. This length of time without oxygen needs a distinct approach from the Wim Hof method and more of a free diving (on land for me) training routine.

two people free diving in the oceanNow while there are documented benefits like; improved lung capacity, better respiratory function, increased breath awareness, enhanced cardiovascular fitness, increased tolerance to carbon dioxide etc. These listed health benefits are only a small percentage of the reason for pursuing this goal.

Gradually increasing the apnea duration as your lung capacity and breath-holding ability improves, seeing the incremental changes that compound over time, resulting in significant change, is a metaphor for life.

It’s about finding a process, believing in the process and sticking to the process. This exercise has been a breakthrough for me because I had serious doubts that I could actually hold my breath for five minutes. It originally seemed improbable from the base where I started.

Trust The Process!!

While I understand this phrase  started out in basketball, it’s been adopted more broadly as a motivational and philosophical concept. It encourages individuals to have faith in the journey, even when facing challenges or setbacks. It suggests that success often comes from sticking to a well-thought-out plan, being patient, and trusting that the efforts invested will yield positive results over time.

In essence, “trust the process” encourages people to stay committed to their goals and believe that their efforts will lead to success in the end.

For me to achieve this 50by50 goal, I needed to trust the process. I needed to find a plan and stick to it and never break the chain.

Once I committed to the plan it needed to be incorporated into my daily routine, and if my routine was disrupted I needed to adjust and make room for it. Achieving each daily goal, especially when it got tough, and it did, was super rewarding.

Experiencing a sense of daily accomplishment validates one’s efforts and perseverance, and often brings about positive changes or outcomes, fostering a fulfilling sense of personal growth.

trusting the processUnderstanding  that progress may be gradual, I feel there is more to gain in focusing on continuous improvement rather than immediate perfection, maybe because the latter opens you up for increased failure (although failure shouldn’t be viewed as negative).  Celebrate small victories, such as extending your breath-holding-time by just 15 seconds a day, and use setbacks as opportunities to learn and adjust your approach.

I’ve had to adopt an identity as someone who prioritises and enjoys breath-holding exercises. When you see yourself as a person who embraces this activity, it becomes easier to integrate it into your lifestyle.

In breathing and in life, consistent small actions lead to better results than occasional intense efforts, consistency builds endurance and contributes to long-term success.

I am super pumped to tick this goal off my list. Like really pumped.

How I did it is here. 

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