Conscious Breathing has become my mental Ferdinand-the-Bull-style cork tree. “But Mats, why aren’t you at some New Year Party with everyone else?” wondered my worried mother, believing that being alone on New Year’s Eve is a sign of depression. “No, I like it better here on my couch where I can blissfully breathe through my Relaxator,” I responded when she called me to wish me a Happy New Year.
I started using Conscious Breathing at the end of November when the long fly fishing season ended. At that time of year, I feel a longing for next season, and there is also time left over for other activities.
I am often asked how I can spend so much time on my passion/lifestyle, and I haven’t really found a good or clear answer as I receive so many inner rewards from fly fishing. My fly fishing buddy, Niklas, seemed to know me better than myself when he said: –You’re a little like me, you fly fish to get away from the hustle and bustle, right?
I have completed the 28-Day Conscious Breathing course
Over time, it became even more so, and therefore, I became interested in alternative ways to get away from the hustle and bustle and achieve inner peace, even when the fishing rods are hibernating in the closet. I decided on a 28-day class on Conscious Breathing.
What did I do during those 28 days? The short answer is that I began sleeping with my mouth taped shut, practiced relaxation techniques with the Relaxator for 15 minutes every morning and evening, and started exercising with a closed mouth. How did I have time for that? Before the class, my attitude was, “If I exercise for an hour, I get two hours’ worth of energy back,” with the knowledge that I feel better, have more energy, become more focused, and can spend more energy on the right things after a workout.
A few years ago, my lousy sleep habits became all too clear as I was on social media on my computer every night before going to bed. I quit doing that a year ago, and my sleep instantly improved, but I still woke up easily from any noise. I often get ribbed because I don’t have a smartphone, but it’s a conscious choice because I’m so bad at multitasking.
Previously, my caffeine intake was limitless
Instead of focusing outward, or more accurately, downward at a smartphone, when I’m waiting for the bus, am stuck in a phone queue, or waiting for a late train, I’ve regarded it as an opportunity to focus inward on my Conscious Breathing.
What was it like before? Despite working out regularly and not being overweight, I’ve had a high blood pressure. I’ve slept fitfully and have been very sensitive to sound, as well as waking easily. Even if it wasn’t outwardly visible, I have had inner stress and performance anxiety, especially if I’m going to give a lecture, go on a date, or have difficult conversations.
My caffeine intake was limitless, and when I started eating candy or cookies, I couldn’t stop until the bag was empty. It was similar with the bottle and alcohol in my late teens, before fly fishing entered my life and gave me the calm I may have searched for in my forgotten and time-barred teenage years getting drunk.
The results are “Disturbingly Positive”
How did it go? The results are “disturbingly positive.” My blood pressure has dropped to a healthy level. My internal stress has decreased and my mental ghosts have stopped bothering me. I can be inspired and see challenges in things I feared, and it makes me more relaxed and flexible towards those I meet. Now that I’ve begun sleeping with my mouth taped shut, I sleep deeper and wake up feeling well rested.
The relaxation exercises that involve breathing in and out through my nose, quietly, rhythmically, calmly and low in my stomach enable me to stay focused and feel present when meeting other people, instead of having my thoughts going in completely different directions. My sugar cravings have decreased and my need for coffee has as well.
When I go on walks I realize that my sense of smell has become much better as I can smell smoke from far away. The most surprising effect is from the closed-mouth workouts. I haven’t increased my “dose” of exercise; I only started exercising with a closed mouth. I started with calmer yoga workouts, and progressively advanced to more strenuous exercises. The effect is that I feel stronger, have more endurance, and I recover faster from harder exercises.
Now, I even do a GRIT (high intensity) cardio workout with a closed mouth and I get an endorphin boost after the workout I haven’t previously experienced. Maybe that’s what long-distance runners call “runner’s high.”
Conscious Breathing has quickly become my mental cork tree
Solitude, quiet, and boredom don’t scare me but are times for a much-needed mental rest, which is necessary for my creativity to awaken.
Conscious Breathing has quickly become my mental “cork tree.” Therefore the choice is obvious to spend a couple hundred bucks on attending a Conscious Breathing Instructor Course instead of buying a smartphone.
I am an introvert, and have a need for alone time for reflection, winding down, and escaping the hubbub in order to feel balanced and achieve inner peace. It also makes me easily become obsessed with things I find interesting and rewarding.
To start using Conscious Breathing feels like an equally major milestone in my life, like the time I caught my first grayling with a fly fishing rod 30 years ago. It was a feeling of, “I want to do this as often as I can for the rest of my life.” I will use Conscious Breathing until my last breath.
All of the health benefits made me want to immerse myself in the subject
Update July 2019: I began using Conscious Breathing in November 2018, which is now approximately eight months ago. Even if it felt a little weird to sleep with my mouth taped shut for the first few nights, I crossed the “it-has-to-get-worse-before-it-gets-better threshold” pretty quickly. After just a few nights I woke up and felt rested without sleeping any longer.
The benefits I could see after the initial 28 days of breathing retraining were the following:
- Improved sleep
- Less worry = increased calm and focus
- Lower blood pressure
- More even mood
- Increased energy
- Improved physical and mental endurance
These benefits made me choose to continue using Conscious Breathing and immerse myself in the subject, which led me to sign up for the Instructor Course. The webinar format worked perfectly for me since I work full-time during the day.
The Instructor Course has brought me to the next level
I feel that Anders has the ability to give lectures without losing focus and at the same time keep the interest of the audience. I like the setup with a moment for reflection at the beginning of each lesson and homework at the end. Even if I’ve been less than diligent with my homework, I’ve still prioritized practicing Conscious Breathing every day.
On my part, it involves me sleeping every night with my mouth taped shut. Day in and day out, I practice with the Relaxator and I work out with my mouth taped shut. I use the Relaxator every morning and evening and have noticed that I feel more focused when I study or drive with it.
These last few weeks I’ve done spinning with my mouth taped shut. It has been better than expected, and I don’t become as tired (likely less lactic acid and a lower pulse), and afterward I receive such an endorphin boost that I feel almost in love.
I feel euphoric and have such high hopes for the future
The deepened training have, in the long run, given me the following benefits:
- My sugar cravings are gone. Before I began using Conscious Breathing, I was practically a cookie monster, especially in the afternoons when I was tired and needed a quick energy boost.
- Decreased alcohol consumption. In recent years, I haven’t been a big consumer of alcohol, but the short-term effects of alcohol, such as relaxation, more presence, and confidence, I receive by practicing Conscious Breathing regularly. This is significantly healthier and cheaper.
- I’ve started to dare to sing when I play the guitar and feel that my voice is better thanks to Conscious Breathing and use of the Relaxator.
- I feel more in harmony, energetic, and focused.
- I don’t lose my temper when technology doesn’t work, when fellow drivers break the law, or when my favorite soccer team loses.
- I feel that I have better mental and physical health despite rapidly nearing the age of 50.
- I feel braver. I can look forward to things that I’ve avoided in the past, such as being the center of attention, giving lectures, and being vulnerable, or trying new ways of behavior and not seeing setbacks as failures, but instead as part of the learning process. Challenges have caused development and energy in the long run, despite that it still feels like a bad idea in the short term.
- No one complains that I snore anymore now that I’ve started to sleep with sleep tape. Previously, lots of people have complained about my snoring.
- I feel more focused and not as divided in my thoughts, which causes me to learn things faster and saves energy.
- Somehow, it feels like a backpack has been lifted from my shoulders. I think that I unconsciously have been carrying a lot of fear and performance anxiety unnecessarily, which has led to avoidant behavior, which has used up a lot of energy in the long run, even if it feels comfortable in the short term.
- I have high hopes for the future, and experience a strong feeling of joy in life.
- I have become better at listening to others and to myself. I am more curious about others’ perspectives than before, and when I am calm internally, it leads to much better conversations and relationships.
Thanks a million for this simple method that has made me feel so harmonious and focused!
Keep up the good work.