Slowing Down to Power Up, the Benefits of the Breath.
Sitting at the stop light. Not even half way into our commute. And only a few sips of coffee in our system. We gaze at our phone. Pulling up our notes page.
"To Do List."
We click on it. Revealing a list of items. All with sub notes. And with a star next to each. Reminding of us of their importance.
We begin to focus on one. Building the plan of how to execute and strategically complete the task. But just as we get to the solution. A sound breaks our concentration. It is the blaring horn of the person behind us. The red light, now green. We are now late off the line and sparking concern from the fellow commuter behind us. Instantly our stress level rises. And our focus of this one task switches to the entire list. As we look down at the clock. The anxiousness builds. And we accelerate the car. Hurrying to the office.
This scenario happens way too often to us. No matter how organized and detailed we are. We allow our surroundings to speed us up. Resulting in a not so logical approach to accomplishing what needs to be done.
It always has been a challenge to become patient. And slow down. Accept the journey as it is. Whether it was in the scenario mentioned above, athletic endeavors or in the yoga studio. I always wanted the instantaneous gratification. I needed it to happen now. And had no time for it not to. My first eye opening was in the endurance sport of stand up paddling. Putting in hours, weeks and months of work. With gains of under a minute. Sometimes almost feeling as I went backwards. Yoga the same. Learning a new pose. Then days later not even coming close to doing it.
This past year I started a journey in the mental strength game. I wanted to build this side of my life. As I knew it was a vital tool. Not only becoming successful. But freeing myself from anxiety and stress.
As a yoga teacher I understood, not on a deep level, the power of the breath. As I read various stories, studies and teachers experiences it began to resonate with me more. And the knowledge deepen. But it was not until my journey into the world of cold water therapy, submerging myself into ice cold water for minutes at a time, where I found the power of the breath. In the water I learned that the breath would keep me warm and focussed on the task at hand. After I left the water. I sat freezing for an hour or more. Even layered in warm clothing. Next to the fire place.
Then I took my meditation block. Layered up. Hood on. And sat in front of the fire place. I walked myself through a ten minute meditation, focused on the breath. And in a few minutes my toes felt warm. Fingers. Then the core. I was actually sweating. And warm. In under ten minutes. This test continued overt the next few weeks. The result stayed the same. Showing me that ten minutes of slowing down and breathing. Saved me hours of time. This past week we started a yoga challenge with my friends as the hosts and led by Namaste SUP. The theme was heart opening and mental hygiene. And as it came to my day to host. My theme was slow down to power up.
As I began writing how to get into modified side plank. I felt a calling to talk more about slowing down to power up. And less about the pose. As the shape our body makes is important but without the breath. It is just another move.
This mantra has trickled over into my life as of recent. With the launching of my new business platform. I found myself moving methodically through the days and speaking with potential clients. My to do list somedays would last for a week. Strategically moving through the list. I would still accomplish the necessities of life, bills, emails, writing and etc. But the bigger ones waited.
The stress and anxiety that usually came along with these large tasks that remained unfinished, seemed to dissipate as well.
My biggest takeaway was not the lack of attention to the list or the results. But the outcome of being patient with these lists. And what happened while I was not reacting and rushing to cross the item off. Was either the item either becoming no longer of importance or finding more information making it easier to accomplish.
How did I maintain my composure during these times? That same thing that helped me get through the ice baths. And warm up after. The breath. When the mind would get excited and the stress started to rise. I took time to breath. Just some long, slow exhales. As the urge to rush faded I would get back on task.
Breathing is something we all can work on. My favorite way to test it is driving. There always is a moment where we get a bit excited. And that is ok. Instead of letting it build and have the mind attach to it. Try taking three big exhales. Then four. If it calms you down like it does for me. Add it into the work day. And see how those tasks on the list lose the power over us.