Box Breathing: The Mindfulness Technique Navy Seals Use

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

Welcome to App Saturdays! (*insert jazz hands*) Every Saturday we’ll feature an app we love, telling you what it can do and why it’s awesome.

Our brains have a great way of never shutting up. Just search Mindfulness in the App Store and you’ll see that people are actively looking for ways to relax, let go of the past, calm their heart, and come to a present state of awareness. But do any of those apps deliver on what they promise? I’ve tried a few and have even found some that I like. But never before have I found an app that utilizes a proven method of hacking our unconscious responses. You’ll be amazed what a simple breathing technique can do for your body, mind, and spirit. Don’t take my word for it though; this is the same breathing technique used by the military and professional athletes. This is Box Breathing. Here’s what it does and why we love it.

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Box Breathing ($2.99)

What It Does

Box Breathing gamifies your daily mindfulness with twenty levels. Each new level extends the amount of time you breathe in, hold, breathe out, and hold. For most usrs, level nine is probably a good place to stop. But for those who love this breathing technique, there is the option to continue.

Once you’ve select a level, you can choose to have music or audio prompts to guide you through each section. You can also choose your intention such as calm, letting go, or being present. Adjust any other settings you’d like and share your practice with friends if desired. Then tap Start Your Practice.

The name Box Breathing makes a good deal of sense once you begin your first practice. A square is the main focus of your screen while practicing. The corners are curved and each curve will prompt your action like breathing in or out. The edges are dotted to create a countdown. So when you’re breathing in, out, or holding your breath, you’re waiting for the dots to fill up before receiving the next action prompt.

But why is this breathing technique used by athletes and the military? By nature of the technique, you’re oxygenating your brain and blood. The benefits of this are said to include "getting in the zone," increased focus and skill, regulation of the nervous system, better mediations, improved immune system, and more.

Why We Love It

A big part of what stops us from doing self-care tasks that could improve our overall well-being is time. We’re a busy species, and it can be hard to justify sitting down for twenty minutes to do nothing. But if you’ve ever taken that time, you know how much better everything else flows when you’re in a good place.

Box Breathing allows you to hack this whole system. The breathing technique is designed to get you into the zone in two to five minutes (more as you graduate levels). In the same way a Couch-to-5k app helps you build up to running just over three miles, Box Breathing builds up how long you can hold your breath and the length of time you can breathe in or out for.

You can choose to see it as a competition with yourself, or you may simply want to focus on the benefits to your well-being. For me, I’ve found it to be helpful when my anxiety is high. Or during the afternoon slump of a long work day.

If you haven’t been quite satisfied with other mindfulness apps you’ve tried, this may be a good fit for you. No fluff, no nonsense, just Box Breathing.

Price: Worth It?

Box Breathing costs $2.99. But that’s the only money you’ll need to spend. There’s no pro program that you need buy in order to get all the features. No freemium trial that turns into a monthly expense. Just the single price upfront. Overall, it’s a straightforward app that’s less about creating a zen atmosphere and more about showing you how to create your own zen atmosphere in your mind.

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Author Details

Conner Carey's picture

Author Details

Conner Carey

Conner Carey's writing can be found at She is currently writing a book, creating lots of content, and writing poetry via @conpoet on Instagram. She lives in an RV full-time with her mom, Jan and dog, Jodi as they slow-travel around the country.