Sometimes we don’t get what we think we’re going to get. We get more.
I spent Labor Day week-end in Orlando with about 1500 other folks. Learning qi gong. No surprise, right? You know from reading this column and my books that I am keen on knowing all the ways in which we energize ourselves.
I learned how to feel and move qi. That’s Chinese for energy.
But here’s the “we get more” part. Qi practice brought me right back to how I breathe. Deeply breathe. Like – really, really breathe.
Yeah, yeah, I know this. We all breathe, all the time. Well no – not really.
99% of us shallow-breathe 99% of the time. Especially when we’re under stress – and in business that’s often 100% of the time.
Stress causes shallow breathing which causes a lack of oxygen. The brain doesn’t function as well as it might. We show up diminished for every meeting, every social interaction, every task we perform. Day after day. Like – every day.
Pretty scary, right?
The benefits of un-shallow breathing, commonly called abdominal breathing? It calms our mind. Spurs creative thinking. Eases problem-solving. Activates cellular wisdom. Stimulates flow.
Sounds a lot better, doesn’t it?
Actors do this. Athletes do this. Keynote speakers do this. Anyone who needs to deliver a peak performance under pressure. They know it’s not going to happen if they’re not in their bodies. Fully in their bodies.
So they stop. They breathe. Deeply breathe. Deeply breathe again.
Consider these two pathways to being out of your mind and getting deeper into your body:
The long haul: Study breath practices such as yoga, meditation, abdominal breathing, qi gong, tai chi. The operative word here is practice. We have become a nation of dabblers. Dabble for a while. Find the breath practice you like best. And then get good at it. Really, really good. Practice and commit.
Instant gratification: Re-oxygenate yourself. By that I mean stop. Stop whatever you’re doing. Take a breath break. Breathe. Breathe as deeply as you know how. Breathe and breathe some more. Do this often during your day. Notice how a calm settles over your body and clarity returns to your mind. Ah yes. So sweet. So invigorating.
Remember: What happens in your mind will be more compelling the moment you get out of your mind. Just another conundrum of life. So go ahead – breathe and celebrate your clarity of thought!