In a world that is constantly on the go it can be easy to get caught up in all the chaos and non-sense that surrounds us. Running day to day on grit and sometimes even fumes doing what we deem necessary for the day. In order to seemingly accomplish our goals. To get it done. But does getting it done always serve our purpose in the most effective and efficient way? Having lived in New York for 14 years it’s definitely safe to say I’m one of those who gets it done. No matter what. You can ask anyone here and they’ll tell you it’s just what we do. Hustle. Whether it’s simply walking down the street, networking to make our next sale, getting reservations at the trendiest of restaurants, coffee with a new potential client in between a big company meeting and your next boot camp class. You name it we’re all busy and on the go. Therefore, this week I want to talk about the importance of finding your breath.
I have to admit that as an athlete I am a huge cardio person. And for the most part, to me, a successful workout is measured in sweat. As a runner that has seemingly never been an issue. I’m usually sweating before I hit my first mile so needless to say by the end of the workout my success levels are through the roof. A few years or so ago that all changed when a good friend of mine started talking to me intently about yoga. Honestly it was something I never considered “a real workout” because it just seemed like a bunch of stretching and NO SWEAT. At the time however, I was experiencing a few issues with running so I thought “the stretching” might help. Alas, I had signed up for my first class and boy was I wrong about it not being “a real workout”. I was shocked at the challenge the poses and flow presented me with. Flowing continuously through moves using muscles that potentially hadn’t been awakened in quite some time. It also was the first time I personally had been conscious about the idea of connecting with my breath in order to get me through something.
Certainly I was breathing while running and doing all other cardiovascular sports but never fully paying attention to it in this way. The idea of using your breath (the inhale and exhale) to open up space where you might be experiencing fatigue or struggle. Pulling in positive energy and letting go of the bad. I remember the instructor consistently reminding us to go back to our breath if we found ourselves in the face of discomfort and it worked. Now that I think about it I suppose it is the same magic behind why Lamaze is such a crucial component in the child birth experience. Curious, as I always am, I continued to return to classes with the intention of working specifically on developing a greater sense of breath and since then I have slowly been working on introducing this element into all facets of my life. Whenever I now find myself faced with discomfort, struggle or chaos giving myself that same gentle reminder to reconnect with my breath in order to push through. Whether it’s speed walking through the streets to get to my next meeting on time, anxiously sitting in traffic or a stalled/ delayed train, on the computer writing my latest post, researching the latest trends, preparing for that upcoming conference call or speaking engagement, at the latest panel discussion, etc. … taking a moment to find your breath and connect with it can be your ultimate power to overcoming obstacles.
So how can you find your breath? Building a healthy relationship with it that benefits your every move. Reflecting back on my childhood I remember my mom used to belong to a chant/ meditation group that would meet a few times per week to share in practice. I couldn’t really understand it at the time but that was her way of slowing things down and getting grounded. Perhaps your way is also a structured form of meditation or to simply sit in silence with your eyes closed for 5 minutes each day. It’s really up to you to make it your own so long as you commit to building the relationship and do it.
I challenge you in the next few weeks to play around with finding your breath among all the noise that exists in your world. Take note of what happens during those few moments internally and externally and how they affect your actions that follow. What happens to your stress levels throughout the day? How much more productive are you? What changes do you notice in how you show up to life? Are your relationships seemingly different and better for it?
Record your notes in a journal where they are easy to review and acknowledge yourself when you notice positive behavioral patterns being developed. When you find something is working stick with it and find ways to expand and build it into more areas of your life. If it's not working scrap it and try something new. Positive reinforcement is one of our best systems for support and creating sustainable change. Before you know it you’ll be consciously moving toward your best life.
After all, nothing should ever be so pressing that you don’t have time to breathe. So take your time to inhale all that is good and let go of all that isn’t.