When do you breathe best? Is it when you are in a crowed subway station or when you are out on a mountain top? The answer usually is out on a mountain top. Graphic design elements work in similar ways.
Letting a graphic element breathe, means to allow enough white space around the entire element to make the element stand out on it's own. Information is interpreted best when there isn't too many alternative elements distracting from the main messaging. Take a breath, it's okay to not fill the blank space and let the focal point breathe.