I’m in the midst of one of those times when professional deadlines coincide with personal deadlines. Throw in the added excitement of Lions Gate energy and it has the potential to be a wild ride.
Now, somewhere deep down I must have sensed this was coming because three weeks ago, I enrolled in Tracy Litt’s coaching programme, Easy Like Sunday Morning. It’s about embracing more ease and flow in your life. Divine timing right? If I wasn’t participating in Tracy’s programme right now, there’s a real and highly likely possibility that I would be a hot mess right now. And, to the best of my knowledge, I’m not.
How do you know you need to actively seek out calm?
How do I know I would have been a hot mess? Well, because for the first week and a half, when my conscious mind was resisting the work, I felt tight in my body. I was angry, tetchy and all those other thoughts and feelings that come with being stressed. Then the Keystone fell into place and I began to notice things were beginning to feel easier.
Friends began commenting that I looked relaxed, unexpected and unwelcome news didn’t really rile me.
How does your morning routine set you up to be calm?
Now my normal Saturday routine begins with running through the list of what needs to get done that day whilst I simultaneously swig on a delicious cup of tea.
I say delicious because I like a good quality loose leaf tea brewed in a warmed pot. Now a tea bag will do. But Saturday morning starts with a proper cup of tea.
Saturday is podcast day. It’s where I connect with you beautiful people and think about what I want to share in the weeks ahead. This morning, I did something different. Instead of multitasking, I sat in my office that’s filled with gorgeous, inspiring things. I sat on the couch, not at my desk, with my feet on the ottoman and I enjoyed my cup of tea.
No planning, just enjoying, mind empty, savouring my cup of tea.
I breathed. I sat. I drank.
Without any effort, three ideas for podcast episodes popped into my head (they’ll be coming soon). And this is one of them.
I wrote the other two in my podcast ideas journal. Here’s the other interesting thing. The things we’re talking about today in this episode, they just came.
No effort, no trying, easy.
Calm boosts effortless creativity
My experiment of one supports Tracy’s assertion based on the so many people that she’s worked with, that creating space for ease and grace enables creativity. The key is in the space that you choose to be in. Doing nothing and feeling tense and judgy about it is not helpful. Doing nothing and feeling calm and open about it allows the creative genius to emerge.
Now, there are multiples of tools, teachings and reflections in Tracy’s programme to help you get to that space. But for me, the thing that’s making the biggest difference is the breath work. And finally, understanding that breath work is the work. For years I rushed through prescribed breath work. Often allowing my mind to multitask because I hadn’t appreciated its power.
How breathwork helps you to be calm
When done with intention, it can move you from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system in a heartbeat. Literally. Why does that matter?
Our sympathetic nervous system is the home of fight or flight. It’s necessary but live there for too long in your day and your body is needing to deal with system wide inflammation, digestive disruption, insulin sensitivity, cortisol spikes, and a myriad of other things. All of these things have downstream health consequences if you live there for too long.
The parasympathetic nervous system is your recovery system. Physiologists often refer to it as the domain of rest and digest. And this fast paced, always on world we need to seek out ways to bring our parasympathetic nervous system to the fore. Now there are loads of ways to do this. Anything that you lose yourself in will get you there. Even things like daydreaming, walking, (not running or biking) through nature will all help us to relax and recover.
But the easiest most convenient one is to breathe. Breathe slowly, deeply and calmly. The type of breathing where your belly inflates like a balloon on the in-breath and deflates on the outbreath. It’s often referred to as diaphragm breathing.
Try this easy exercise
So how am I incorporating breath work into my day right now?
Well, at least four times a day, or whenever I noticed my brain telling me I need to, I place my hands on my heart.
Then I breathe slowly and deeply in through my nose for a count of four. My belly expands while I’m doing this.
I then hold this in-breath for a count of seven. And then slowly, calmly, breathe out to a count of eight. Then I repeat this. This is the 4-7-8 cycle.
We do it three times in total. Breathing and for four, holding for seven, breathing out for eight. I know it seems so simple. I used that as an excuse to not be consistent with this practice. And then some focused coaching from Tracy helped me to see that it matters.
Gentle, intentional breathing to a count of four, seven, and out for eight. I did it consistently, a minimum of four times a day and my experience of it was that everything changed.
Are you ready to ride the wild tide of this life? Then choose to do it with ease and grace. The easiest way to do that is to breathe – slowly, intentionally. In and out through your nose, all the way down to your belly. Breathe in for four counts. Hold your breath for seven counts. Breathe out for eight counts. 4-7-8.