Yes, yes we are still talking about the new year but that’s only because the year is still young. We are pretty much back in the groove of our lives, which is fine, but can we breathe new breath into it? How can we find the space to breathe whilst getting on with the daily grind? Do we have to rush back into predictable behaviours? How do we revitalise our habits?
There is always time to start anew or reset, but it can be a struggle to find the mindset, the time or space to do that. Dr Caroline Leaf talks about building in just 16 minutes a day for stillness can help to recalibrate and give the mind, body soul and spirit the rest it craves before moving forward again. MBP founders’ book Building Life Muscles builds on that advice and encourages you to find space – a grounding space – to come back to anytime when you need to. “It is more important to be at peace with where you are whilst consciously choosing to change.” So, we really can breathe new life, new breath into our activities but how? We have two simple points that might help.
1. Just Breathe – we do this naturally, of course, but do we do it intentionally? Controlled breathing has been scientifically shown to reduce stress, help with anxiety and insomnia, increase alertness and boost your immune system. Those who practice yoga used breath control, or pranayama, to promote concentration and improve vitality. Buddha is said to have advocated breath-meditation as a way to reach enlightenment. But don’t worry, it can be used by anyone at any time, in any life situation. Building Life Muscles breaks it down into a ‘BRRRRR’ – and no this is not you shivering from the cold – that enables you take a moment to really think about your breath
· Breathe – Take 10 deep long breaths. Breathe out any cobwebs or bad thoughts and breathe in new beginnings and new possibilities.
· Reset – what is your fallback position when things get tough?
· Replace – change negative thoughts by using a positive affirmation instead
· Recharge – tell yourself you are ready for the day, for any challenge
· Reach out – is there someone you can talk to?
· Regulate your thoughts. Keep coming back to this space if you need to
Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “silence is a great source of strength.” As we already know, we spend our days surrounded by noise: reading, watching, listening, and passively hearing everything around us. We need to be able to process all that information. It is essential to find some peace and quiet. If we do that, we don’t just remove external noise, but also find some inner peace that comes with deliberate practice.
2. Choose Stillness - Being still and at peace is a tough practice. When you sit, lie down, walk or stand with the idea of doing nothing what’s the bet that these three things immediately happen:
· You become distracted
· You feel uncomfortable
· You begin to notice things or remember things you were meant to do!
So, of course, the next thing you want to do is get up, not be still and instead tackle another task or give stillness up as a bad job. Remember though that we are thinking of change here… what if we preserve? Try to be still and silent for 5 minutes.
i. Find a relaxed position to sit down. Sit in a space where you’ll be able to be still. (We know this can be hard with kids or pets or other people around, but even the bathroom could be an option.)
ii. Get into a relaxed rhythm of breathing.
iii. Remember finding yourself distracted is normal. It takes practice to learn to tune out distractions. Don’t worry, just keep return to your breath.
iv. When you’ve finished pause for a moment and notice if there was anything you thought or felt. You might want to write down any thoughts.
You could try and expand this to 5mins a day for one week. Go for maybe 10 mins a day or aim for that magical 16 minutes and see what happens.
Starting or trying something new needn’t mean a whole step change. Intentional breathing and seeking out silence are just tweaks that you can easily incorporate into your life but can become important life muscles. It is just about learning to invest this time in you. Happy New Investing!