Dr. Jim Nicolai on Breathwalking

Dr. Jim Nicolai shares his expertise on real world meditation called breathwalking

What is breath walking?

Breath walking is a way to actively meditate in real world time. The goal of breath walking is to combine specific patterns of deep breathing with your walking steps to calm your mind and increase you meditative attention. You don’t have to close off your world– in fact, you don’t even have to close your eyes to the benefits of what meditation can offer. All you have to do is breathe with your stride and you’re on your way.

What are the specifics of breath walking?

Breath walking has many benefits, both for the mind and the body. It’s one of the simplest activities yet once you start implementing this technique regularly in your life, you’ll begin to notice the following:

  • an increased energy level
  • mood control
  • refined mental clarity and feelings of connectedness

In addition to that, you’ll also notice an improvement in your heart rhythm, visual focus, muscle balance, and lung health. Moral of the story: utilizing walking meditation is the perfect exercise to master proper breathing, improve health, and create vitality within yourself.

Who should breath walk?

There isn’t a specific group that is best suited for breath walking. This technique is beneficial for anyone because once you learn how to breath properly, you’ll be able to go uphill with much more ease. However, if you suffer from chest pain, heart disease, asthma, chronic lung disease, or any other type of illness, breath walking might be a good meditative exercise to try out.
Whether you choose to do it solo, with a friend or in a group, you’ll quickly find your mind more relaxed and focused than ever before. Try to fit in a quick breathing exercise during your lunch break or if you need to calm down from a stressful day at work. While you’re at it, focus on learning how to improve posture as it goes hand in hand with breath walking.

What makes the practice of breath walking different from meditation?

Most meditation practices involve passively observing your breath and thoughts; with breath walking we’re actually doing something to our breath. Subtly changing our breathing pattern gives us something to do– and for all of us “doers” who are challenged by “non-doing,” this makes all the difference in the world.

How can someone integrate breath walking into their daily routine?

You have to breathe in oxygen and you have to walk. You can get into a meditative state anywhere you do both– which is anytime and any place! Whether you’re waking up in the morning, taking a break from work or just need a little bit of fresh air, you can implement this deep breathing technique at any time of the day.

How to try it on your own:
The fundamental rhythm of breathing is four-in and four-out. So, take four short, segmented breaths in, one after another, followed by four, short segmented breaths out in time with your steps as follows: In-in-in-in, out-out-out-out. The breaths in should typically be through the nose and the breaths out through the mouth. This is also great for slowing down your heart rate during stressful times.

Jim Nicolai, M.D., is the former Medical Director of the Integrative Wellness Program at Miraval Resort and Spa. He is a board-certified family practitioner and a graduate of the Integrative Medicine Fellowship at the University of Arizona in Tucson. A graduate of the Indiana School of Medicine, Dr. Nicolai completed his family practice residency at St. Francis Hospital & Health Centers.

Dr. Nicolai has a special interest in whole-person medicine, addressing patients as mental and emotional beings, energetic and spiritual entities, and community members, as well as physical bodies. His expertise is in combining conventional medicine with the intelligent use of complementary and alternative therapies, including herbs and other botanicals, vitamins and supplements, nutritional counseling, lifestyle management and stress reduction, including breath walking.

3 Responses to “ Dr. Jim Nicolai on Breathwalking ”

  1. Happy to see this post on Vionic Shoes with Dr. Jim Nicolai. I had the pleasure of meeting with Dr. Jim several times both at Miraval and at the ISPA conference and believe in his work and BreathWalking. I love that there are more medical centers including integrative practices and that mindfulness is becoming more main stream. Thank you!

  2. Will try this since I have difficulty focusing when trying through Dahn Yoga practice or other meditation techniques I have attempted.

  3. What a wonderful idea. Thanks for the idea! I will be trying this as it sounds very beneficial in several ways.

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