Concentrating and remembering

Centering breath

Breathing and concentration go hand in hand. At times, my mind resembles a busy and noisy construction site, with several processes being executed in parallel. Naturally, concentrating while in this state is challenging. Generally, shifting awareness toward my breathing extends my attention span and may improve my memorizing ability.

When my thoughts are scattered, inhaling and exhaling in equal durations contribute to focusing. When having equivalent inhales and exhales, the ‘fight or flight’ and ‘rest & repair’ forces of my breathing become more balanced, allowing ‘zooming.’ On one hand, I’m ready to make an effort; on the other hand, I’m in a relatively relaxed state.

My maximum relaxation window is available when I hold my breath following an exhale, before I reach ‘air-hunger start.’ During this period, breathing muscles are inactive. That is my ‘breathing bullseye’ interval.

Shooters and archers need to be accurate. Pulling the trigger or releasing the arrow at the right stage of the breathing cycle can mean hit or miss. The same goes for games such as pool, darts, golf, etc. Shooting during the ‘breathing bullseye’ improves the chance of completing the mission successfully or winning the game.

Breathing this way for a long duration may prevent my ‘breathing app’ from accommodating the different needs of my internal and external environments, which may affect concentration negatively. That’s why I limit the number of breathing cycles when using this tool.

Memory lapse

We all have moments of forgetfulness where we try to remember something but simply can’t. It is surely registered somewhere in our memory but momentarily can’t be retrieved. It stands on the tip of our ‘memory’s tongue’ but doesn’t want to come out.

At a young age, I didn’t struggle much to recall names, remember appointments, or memorize a phone number that I had used a few times. Yet, around 50, I started getting these memory lapses more frequently. I would go somewhere and forget what I was about to do. Reading more on those ‘senior moments,’ I understood that, as long as these glitches are not too frequent and don’t disturb everyday activities, they are not a sign of early… of early… I can’t remember the name of that German guy the forgetting disease is named after.

Still, I thought having a breathing procedure in these situations would be helpful. So, instead of struggling with inner mind loops, I resort to a pre-practiced breathing sequence. I use ‘square breathing’ in these situations: inhaling—holding—exhaling—holding, all in equal parts.

We all have different breathing identities. So, instead of rigid counting, I prefer to use my breathing rate at rest time as a measure of the ‘sides’ of the square.

My breathing rate at rest is about 14 breaths per minute.

The duration of a breathing cycle is 60 ÷ 14 = about 4 seconds.

I slow down my breathing, so it is about a fourth of my breathing rate at rest. So, roughly 4 seconds for each side of the box.

 Inducing memory retrieval tool


  • I use exclusive nose breathing.

Inhale and extend my diaphragm to maximum amplitude – 4 counts.

  1. Hold my breath with my diaphragm at maximum amplitude – 4 counts.
  2. Exhale until my diaphragm reaches its neutral dome shape – 4 counts.
  3. Hold my breath with empty lungs – 4 counts.
  4. Repeat for a few cycles.

 I have tried using “Focus” as a mantra when practicing this square breathing but did not adopt it.

In most cases, after some time elapses, zzzzap, I suddenly remember it. If what I’m trying to remember doesn’t pop up, I accept it as part of life.