Get the App

How do I focus on my breath if I have the flu?

by Andy Puddicombe

  • Share


Hi Andy,

First, Headspace is awesome! Second, I am asthmatic and currently fighting the flu and wheezing deeply. By concentrating on my breathing, l get all that noise which makes me only concentrate on my lack of air. Suggestions?


There are a couple of different ways of looking at this one.

The first is to ensure that you are focusing on the physical sensation of the breath, in the stomach or chest, as opposed to the sound. Of course, you will in all likelihood have an awareness of the sound from time to time, but assuming the breath is the primary object of meditation, there is no intention to actually listen out for, or to focus on, the sound.

The second is to consider how much time is spent simply being present with the sound and how much time is instead spent thinking about the sound and perhaps building up some resistance toward it. For example, if the sound were something constant and stable, it could even be used as an object of meditation in it’s own right. But of course that’s not the nature of the flu! All the same, the sound is just a sound. We cannot say it is a distraction unless we are thinking about it and wishing it were different. So it’s important to notice when thinking has wondered off in that direction.

Finally, it’s worth considering using a technique which does not have the breath as the primary object during this time. For example, you will find visualization and reflective techniques in many of the packs and these may be more comfortable. Take a look through the Series library and see what jumps out.

Hope that helps in some way and that you’re now feeling better!

Warm wishes,


Andy Puddicombe

Andy Puddicombe is a meditation and mindfulness expert. An accomplished presenter and writer, Andy is the voice of all things Headspace. In his early twenties, midway through a university degree in Sports Science, Andy made the unexpected decision to travel to the Himalayas to study meditation instead. It was the beginning of a ten-year journey which took him around the world, culminating with ordination as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Northern India. His transition back to lay life in 2004 was no less extraordinary. Training briefly at Moscow State Circus, he returned to London where he completed a degree in Circus Arts with the Conservatoire of Dance and Drama, whilst drawing up the early plans for what was later to become Headspace.

Meditation Made Simple

Meditation Made Simple

Start Meditating