The technique is also known as “resetting your breath” or four-square breathing. It is easy to do, quick to learn, and can be a highly effective technique for people in stressful situations.
People with high-stress jobs, such as soldiers and police officers, often use box breathing when their bodies are in fight-or-flight mode. This technique is also relevant for anyone interested in re-centering themselves or improving their concentration.
Read on to discover the four simple steps required to master box breathing, and to learn more about other deep breathing techniques.
The box breathing method
Box breathing is a simple technique that a person can do anywhere, including at a work desk or in a cafe. Before starting, people should sit with their back supported in a comfortable chair and their feet on the floor.
- Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
- Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to four. Try not to clamp your mouth or nose shut. Simply avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
- Begin to slowly exhale for 4 seconds.
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 at least three times. Ideally, repeat the three steps for 4 minutes, or until calm returns.
If someone finds the technique challenging to begin with, they can try counting to three instead of four. Once someone is used to the technique, they may choose to count to five or six.
Mark Divine, a former Navy SEAL commander, recommends “maintaining an open, expansive feeling” while holding the breath in. In the video below, he describes how to use box breathing.