The Habit Society

⚡️ Just Breathe

To: Society Members

Good Morning!

For those who haven’t yet seen our makeover, you can take the tour here.

In other news, one of our members, Lynn, is an Ayurvedic practitioner and hosts a free online virtual meditation space every day at 10am and 5pm EST. Registration is not required but she does request to be contacted in advance so she can offer a brief orientation. Send her an e-mail here!

If you don’t have a meditation practice and would like to learn one, she also offers free orientations in Heart-Based Medication (a form of automatic self-transcending, easy to do and no focusing required! Basically a win, win, win.) It’s for meditators of all genres and of every level.

– ⚡️ Ashley

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Just Breathe

On this lovely Monday, I introduce to you the 4-7-8 breathing technique. It’s a breathing pattern developed by Dr. Andrew Weil and is based on the ancient yogic technique called pranayama, which helps practitioners gain control over their breathing.

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Deep, Slow Breathing

Mindful breathing practices such as 4-7-8 breathing can produce what Harvard cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson calls the relaxation response. We all have a natural stress response that’s designed to help us deal with dangerous situations, but it can take a toll on our health when it’s overused for everyday stresses. That’s precisely why deep breathing is so effective, it initiates the relaxation response by turning off the fight-or-flight response.

The Technique Breakdown

Ok, so here’s the 4-7-8 technique—it’s super simple, short, and requires no equipment.

Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7. Exhale completely through your mouth, with the tip of your tongue touching your palette for a count of 8. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

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The Progression Path

The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is what’s important. With practice, you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

For the first month, practice only four breath cycles. After one month, you can upgrade to eight cycles. After repeating it twice a day for 4-6 weeks, you can successfully use it to curb cravings, fall asleep, and handle someone who viscerally bothers you.

In essence, this exercise acts as a natural tranquillizer for the nervous system that gains power with repetition (unlike other drugs, which usually become less effective as time goes by). You can take advantage of this new technique when you’re aware of internal tension, before reacting.

As the Zen Buddhist monk, Thích Nhất Hạnh puts it, “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” We’ve stacked this breathing technique to our planks in the morning. So if you don’t want to come for the abs, you can still come for the breath.

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Haruki Murakami

Profile: Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami is a best-selling Japanese writer, author of many, with his words being translated into 50 languages and millions of copies sold.

Ritual: Every day, Murakami wakes up at the crack of dawn (4am) and writes for 4-5 hours. At around 10am, he’ll stop writing and start his physical training; running 10km or swimming 1500 metres.

Why: Before his better routines, he lived the classic writer’s life of sitting and writing all day, thinking that’s what writers had to do. But before he knew it, he was stacking on the pounds (not the habit stacking we aim for) and smoking about 6 cigarettes a day.

Quote: When I think about it, having the kind of body that easily puts on weight is perhaps a blessing in disguise. In other words, if I don’t want to gain weight I have to work out hard every day, watch what I eat, and cut down on indulgences. People who naturally keep the weight off don’t need to exercise or watch their diet. Which is why, in many cases, their physical strength deteriorates as they age. Those of us who have a tendency to gain weight should consider ourselves lucky that the red light is so clearly visible. Of course, it’s not always easy to see things this way.

Read: Murakami on learning how to go the distance: The Running Novelist

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The Podium

Check out Sylvia Amador. She stepped up to the podium for all of you to hold her accountable to an earlier bedtime of 10:20pm on weekdays. She’ll get this done by setting her alarm for 9:20pm to get her night routine started. She’s on an incredible habit journey and is sharing all about it on her Instagram @hellobusyladies. Show her some support!

Wanna step onto the podium? Fill out this form to tell us what you want The Habit Society to hold you accountable for. Every Monday, we will choose one reader to put on The Podium and update you on their progress along the way. What better way to start a new habit than with thousands of people holding you accountable?

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Share & Earn: Don’t forget to share your unique referral link to earn rewards, like a personalized habit plan and a THS sweater.

Connect: Here’s another chance to join our plank accountability group.

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Speaking of calm, here is a picture of Lake Louise in Alberta that literally looks like a breath of fresh air:

Lake Louis
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