As a composer in the world of music and film, Sebastian Rinnebach learned firsthand the transformative power of sound and its influence on our emotions. However, a personal health crisis, marked by stress-induced hearing loss in his right ear, introduced him to anxiety on an unprecedented scale. It was in this challenging period that he discovered the profound impact of breathing exercise on stress management and anxiety reduction. This experience led to the creation of ‘59 Breaths‘—a groundbreaking app seamlessly integrating personalized breathing exercises with real-time biofeedback tracking, poised to redefine mental fitness.
The origin of the name of 59 Breaths is not by chance—59 intentional breaths each day equate to roughly 10 minutes of slow breathing, the threshold to enhance Heart Rate Variability (HRV), a measure that reflects how well one’s nervous system is able to handle stress.
“While still recovering from the hearing loss, another crisis struck: I was mistakenly diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, a degenerative condition that threatened to rob me entirely of my hearing, the cornerstone of my career. The thought of becoming completely deaf was incredibly distressing. Even when the diagnosis was later proven erroneous, the mental and emotional strain had already left deep imprints on my psyche,”Rinnebach reflected.
In his search for relief, he sought guidance from numerous experts and explored a myriad of approaches, ranging from diverse forms of therapy to an extensive array of medications. While these endeavors offered certain degrees of solace, they ultimately proved insufficient in restoring him to his former self. Despite his efforts, Sebastian found himself longing for a more transformative solution that could truly address the depths of his inner struggles.
“And then, seemingly out of the blue, I discovered an approach that turned everything around: slow breathing coupled with biofeedback. The process of consciously regulating my breath and monitoring my body’s physiological responses in real time provided me with a surprising level of command over my anxiety and stress levels. Experiencing the calming effect of slow, deliberate breaths and being able to measure their effect and progress, gave me a newfound sense of control over my life. I finally was on my way to full recovery,” Rinnebach said.
He initially encountered this technique within the walls of a medical institution, surrounded by advanced machines and sensors that monitored breath, heartbeat and other measures. Two revelations dawned upon him during this period, as he explained, “First, I realized that this approach, which had brought me a sense of calm in my personal storm, could provide relief for countless others wrestling with similar challenges. Second, I recognized the need for a more accessible solution, one that did not rely on additional hardware but that would use devices people already have.
With these insights in mind, Sebastian Rinnebach took a courageous leap of faith. He underwent a significant career transition, moving away from his work as a composer of musical scores for films and dedicating his energy and time to a new venture—’59’. This project revolved around developing an app that captured his personal experiences with slow breathing and biofeedback. The purpose was simple yet profound: to extend the invaluable benefits of this powerful technique to a wider audience. The result is an app with an intuitive interface that seamlessly integrates the science of biofeedback into your smartphone, empowering you to harness the transformative power of controlled breathing anywhere and anytime you need it.
To ensure that everything ’59’ does is rooted in science, Sebastian reached out to Dr. David Spiegel, the Director of the Center on Stress and Health at Stanford, who conducts research on breathing exercises and their benefits. After testing the prototype of the 59 Breaths app, Dr. Spiegel agreed to be an advisor (*).
The app fuses the latest scientific insights with the transformative power of music. It determines your optimal breathing pace for maximum results, exhibits your heart rate’s response to breathing exercises, and records resting heart rate and HRV to track progress. The experience is designed to help you train your nervous system, lift your mood, amplify focus, and foster resilience.
Furthermore, Rinnebach’s goal is to make mental fitness accessible to all, so 59 Breaths uses every second dollar earned to support additional mental health efforts and research. Moreover, 59 Breaths offers financial aid to those unable to afford a subscription, providing them access to its comprehensive 8-week course and premium features.
“Having personally felt the effects of mental instability and the associated stigma, I believe a lot more needs to be done. I hope ’59’ can make a significant contribution to addressing our current mental health crisis and help eradicate the stigma it carries,” he concluded.
(*) Dr. David Spiegel ‘s work is as a paid consultant and was not part of his Stanford University duties or responsibilities.