Play Like Roy Rogers and Slow Down

The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “do not become angry/لا تغضب.” While we’re often given prophetic advice, we’re seldom given practical steps on how we might achieve it. Here’s a small exercise that I have been working on myself: slow breathing.

Slow your breathing down. See if you can attain somewhere between four to six breaths per minute. Start out with a 5-minute exercise and slowly increase the time (10 minutes, 20 minutes). This will be much slower than how you normally breathe. You should, with practice, feel your adrenaline rush curb and start to gain control over your actions and emotions. As Kelly McGonigal says,

“Slowing the breath down activates the prefrontal cortex and increases heart rate variability, which helps shift the brain and body from a state of stress to self-control mode.”

As a matter of fact, you can apply this technique to any number of situations in which you need to master your impulses and urges. As God says in the Qur’an,

وَأَمَّا مَنْ خَافَ مَقَامَ رَبِّهِ وَنَهَى النَّفْسَ عَنِ الْهَوَى

فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ هِيَ الْمَأْوَى

“But as for him who feared the Station of his Lord and forbade the lower self its appetites, the Garden will be his refuge.” Qur’an, 79: 40-41.

Recommended reading: Kelly McGonigal, The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do To Get More of It.