The One Tool For Success You Always Have With You – 3 Ways To Use Your Breath To Achieve Your Goals

Written by: Dr. Petra Frese

Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

When striving for success, it is essential to have failsafe techniques at hand that are easy to use, discreet, and always available. The breath is a tool we use so many times each day, yet it is easy to forget its power. Through the breath, we can stimulate our brain and switch between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. The way you breathe can strongly influence the outcome of your presentation, meeting, or task. Here are 3 simple exercises to help put you in the right state when tackling any situation so you can become even more successful.

The powerful tool for success that you always have available

There is one tool for success that we all carry with us constantly. You have it with you, no matter what. It is easy to use, and you don’t need to carry a heavy bag everywhere you go. You can use this tool everywhere, whether you are by yourself or around other people. Nobody will know. You can use it on the go or when you have a quiet moment. You can use it while you are doing other things. It’s a tool we use many, many times every day. Yet, we tend to take it for granted. Do you know what that tool is?

The Breath can be your most useful tool to achieve success

We breathe about 16 times per minute, 960 times per hour, accumulating to about 22’000 times daily. Oftentimes, we take our breath for granted, and we tend to forget how we can use it to manage stress, balance out energy, and increase our focus and productivity, among other things.

The Nasal Cycle Test

You can use a simple test to determine whether you operate primarily in the parasympathetic or the sympathetic nervous system at any given moment. The Nasal Cycle Test was first developed in 1895 by German physician Richard Kayser. For this self-test, place a finger under your nose and feel which nostril your breath passes through more easily. The dominant nostril tells you much about your current state. If your right nostril passes more air, your sympathetic nervous system is stimulated, and there is more left-brain activity. You might feel alert, on the go, and ready for physical activity and action. If you can feel more air pass through your left nostril, your parasympathetic nervous circuit is stimulated at that moment, and there is more right-brain activity. You might feel relaxed and empathetic. Calm and creativity benefit from this circuit. Keep in mind that this changes several times throughout the day. Depending on which result your test brings, you can choose your breathing exercise accordingly. You can also influence your state by choosing to breathe through only one nostril for a short while.

3 practical breathing exercises to help you be more successful in any given situation

When you know that your breath is one of your most powerful tools to achieve success, and without a doubt the most practical one at that, you can do many different exercises to use this tool to your advantage. Here are three simple breathing techniques:

  1. Breathing exercise to calm you down
    Whether you are just about to give a big presentation or walking into an important interview, chances are your nerves are running a little bit wild. In these situations, it is crucial to balance your entire system. We aim to breathe about half as much per minute as we usually do, but with twice the air volume. Engage your diaphragm with each breath. The diaphragm will massage and stimulate your vagus nerve, which increases your ability to adapt to your environment. Imagine your breath as a triangle to achieve a calm state of mind. You can breathe in while counting to 4, then hold at the top for four, and then breathe out for four. Do about 12 sets of this triangle breath. Notice how you feel calmer already?
  2. Breathing exercise to increase focus
    You can also support your brain when you need an extra boost in focus by adjusting your breathing. It is fascinating to see how much a simple breathing exercise can help bring on that laser focus we need for certain tasks, projects, and situations. You can use the Nasal Cycle, as described above, to your advantage for this one. Aim to balance both parts of your nervous system, both sides of your brain. For this exercise, the objective is to close your nostrils in an alternating manner. To do so, use the thumb of your right hand to close your right nostril and the ring finger of the same hand to close your left nostril. Inhale through your left nostril while closing the right one for a four-count. Then, close both nostrils and hold your breath to the count of four. Afterward, breathe out of your right nostril while counting to four. Now do the exercise in reverse: In through the right nostril, hold for four, and out through the left nostril. Reverse it again, and again. After about ten cycles, you can get back to your normal breathing and feel how balanced your system is and how your brain is now ready to focus on the task at hand.
  3. Breathing exercise to energize you
    We all know those times when we just feel sluggish and desperately need a coffee or energy drink. Why not substitute those stimulants with a breathing exercise? For this exercise, the goal is to reach 30+ breaths per minute. Use this exercise with caution and watch how you feel. The goal is not to hyperventilate but to slightly increase the oxygen level in your blood and constrict your blood vessels. This will give you a temporary boost in energy, and you will be able to get over the afternoon slump by waking up your body. This exercise works by engaging your core muscles and forcing out your breath. That means that there is a clear focus on the sharp exhale. Then, the inhale will happen on its own. You can do three rounds of forcing out your breath 30 times, so about every 2 seconds. Then, take a moment to return to your normal breathing pattern and enjoy the energy boost. It will certainly sustain longer than an espresso and will be good for your brain.

Intention is key

With these tools ready at your disposal, you can help your brain and body do everything you need them to do to achieve the success you desire. As with everything, these exercises are even more impactful if you do them with your mind engaged. Set a specific intention before beginning your exercise and see how much more powerful the experience becomes.

Use your breath to your advantage

It is so fascinating how something as simple as breathing could be your key to becoming more successful and achieving the goals you set for yourself and, ultimately, being more in alignment with your soul’s plan. In my practice, I work with the breath on a daily basis. It is easy to take our breath for granted and forget the power of each inhale and exhale, and the life force the breath carries. I would be happy to help you to step into your full potential, also by utilizing your breath. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to learn even more about your breath and its power, more breathing exercises, and the benefits for your brain.

Make every breath count!