Mindfulness on breath - why so unpleasant?

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#1
I have an issue here: I'm suffering with both anxiety and depression, so I'm very interested in healing myself and doing my life as livable as possible. One of those 'wonderful' things one can do to help oneself and calm down, is mindfulness on breath, ex. sitting or laying down and only focus on my breath.
There's only one problem to it: I did it many times (took also guided meditation series such as "breathing for higher consciousness"), but whenever I start concentrating on breathing, I get the opposite effect: instead of relaxing and calming down, I start hyperventilating and feel as if I'm not getting enough oxygen. I tried it quite a couple of times, and every time I felt the same.

The thing I find most relaxing is when I focus my attention AWAY from my breath, then I don't get any muscle spasm. I know one has to "just let the breath go, without controlling it", but for me it doesn't work - it gets unpleasant for me anyway. I actually start shaking and getting more nervous, trying to accept the feeling, but... to no avail.

Same thing with diaphragmatic breathing: I try to concentrate, but it's there where I start hyperventilating and getting a feeling as if I need to gasp after more air (similar to experiences with panic attacks, where one hyperventilates and needs a plastic bag to calm down).

I read some litterature about the breathing, but there was no place mentioned about the problems I experience. So I feel weird.

Any ideas on how I can solve this issue?
 
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#2
I have the same issue. Maybe subconsciously your body associates breathing as something that keeps you alive so you become anxious with fear. Perhaps telling yourself its a normal function.

I would try visualizing something calm and a happy moment while breathing to distract and calm yourself in moments of anxiousness.
 

Dennielle Lee

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Hi Robert I can relate to your story as I have also struggled with anxiety and depression. I can attest to mindfulness has been quite transformational for me, it teaches you techniques for learning to control your thoughts which is an important step in overcoming the negative thought patterns that are associated with anxiety and depression. I think Angie's advice could be helpful, if it's more beneficial focusing on something else, do this. I find that listening to calming and relaxing music helps, you could focus on the music as opposed to the breath. I recently watched this Ted talk on breathing which you might find helpful. I says that learning to breath properly is important before trying meditation as this is more advanced. Hopefully you might find it helpful :)

 

Dennielle Lee

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