Work Header


Chapter Text


It can’t be that hard.

Sherlock closes his eyes, breathing in through his nose, holding the breath for a few seconds before letting it out through his mouth.

It’s only a matter of focus, and Sherlock has the ability to focus to a point where everything around him ceases to exist, so there really shouldn’t be a problem.

Taking another breath, Sherlock turns his attention to the way air fills his lungs, to the feeling of his chest rising and falling with each breath.

Rise. Fall.

Rise. Fall.


(–the chest isn’t really falling, though, is it? It’s more like it resumes its deflated state and a breath let out is not so much a loss as part of a circular–)

Rise. Fall.

He needs to focus. It’s not rocket science. Not with a brain like his. He just needs to focus on the sensation of his own breathing without getting distracted by other thoughts. That’s the whole of it.

Directing one’s focus, though, is a slightly different thing than being so absorbed by a puzzle or a problem that you notice nothing else, or so it would seem.

He’s read up on this. He, Sherlock Holmes, has been reading up on meditation. That in itself is remarkable. What’s even more remarkable is that what should only be a matter of determined focus turns out to be… slightly challenging.

Rise. Fall.

Breathing is boring, or so he’s often said, and this exercise seems to be deliberately designed to prove that simple fact. It’s dull, useless. Breathing is an autonomic function, and autonomic functions are autonomic for a reason. That reason being that you shouldn’t have to think about doing them.

To think that focusing on breathing should have any kind of effect on the state of his mental health is just beyond ridiculous and if he hadn’t read so many studies suggesting that it might facilitate–

With a slight shake of his head, Sherlock tries to clear his head. He’s not supposed to be thinking about thinking right now. He’s not supposed to be thinking, even.

Rise. Fall.

Does his chest always feel this strained when he’s breathing, or is he simply taking very artificial breaths now that he’s paying attention to the fact that his diaphragm is pushing the air in and–

Sherlock tenses, resists the urge to shake his head once again to rid it of every thought and every loose end that seems to be causing a tangle inside his usually well-disciplined mind.

It’s well-disciplined, alright, and it’s been suggested that that’s the reason that he needs to do this. That his iron-hold on his mind is what’s causing the cognitive disturbances that he can no longer deny being affected by.

(‘Stress’ is a word he will never willingly affiliate with himself, no, his mind does not–)


Since focusing on the way his chest moves clearly isn’t working, Sherlock shifts to directing his attention to the way the air flows in and out of first his nose, then his mouth.

Inhale. Exhale.

And there lies the problem. Not thinking is not something that comes natural to someone who prides himself with being a cerebral creature that puts mind over matter, and so the whole thing is absurd, and if–

Inhale. Exhale.

It can’t be that hard.

Inhale. Exhale.

What’s the point of being meditative of something so mindless as airflow? It’s called mindfulness, but it seems contradictory, because the whole point seems to be mindless, at least this particular exercise does, and Sherlock does not do mindless things, no, he does things that–




Letting out the last of the air, or at least as much as he can possible force out of his lungs, Sherlock refuses to take another pointless, mind-numbingly boring breath.

It can’t be that hard, not breathing.

As the seconds go by and Sherlock wills himself not to inhale, not to give in to the urge of take a sip of air, it slowly starts to feel like there’s more air to let out, like it’s trying to force its way out of his closed mouth, but when he opens it to breath it out, there’s nothing there.

It burns. There’s a pressure right over his ribcage. It feels like choking, but there’s nothing to choke on.

This, Sherlock finds, is finally getting interesting.

The sensations of forcing himself not to do something autonomic is far more intriguing than paying attention to what it feels like when he’s doing it.

It’s only when the pressure turns to pain and things are starting to get a bit blurry around the edges that Sherlock relaxes his muscles, only then realising how much strain it takes not to breathe.


The pain slowly dissipates, and his mind clears a bit.

This, Sherlock decides as he gets up from his chair, kicking the book about mindfulness meditation in under the sofa where John will be less likely to find it, is not something that he wants to be doing again.

Observing a perfectly working system is decidedly pointless.

Incidentally, it seems like his own mind is no longer such a perfectly working system.

That he has in fact observed. Finding a solution, however, seems like far more of a challenge than he had anticipated.

At least now he can rule out one of the solutions his research had suggested.

Mindless things can never cure your mind, after all. That goes without saying, and so the so-called minfulness is discarded as a possible remedy.

Walking towards the kitchen, Sherlock notices how the air is once again effortlessly filling his lungs before its once again exhaled.

Inhale. Exhale.

That wasn't so hard now, is it?