Audio for Day 15
Congratulations! You’re halfway through the 30 days. I hope you’ve already begun to see some positive changes in your life. Are you taking the lessons one at a time or several at once? Are you behind where you hoped or expected you'd be? That's ok. Schedules are busy for most of us. the important thing is to be kind to yourself in the process. Even if you’re behind, even if you haven’t tried anything yet, you’re still ahead of those who think they have no choice in how their lives unwind because you’re still here. Give yourself some praise for being this far. In fact why not literally give yourself a pat on the back? That's right. Pick your arm up, reach over and pat yourself on the back. Who better than you to celebrate your success?
We started StarPOWER yesterday which is my model for how to tap into your best self whenever you need it, a true stress buster because you get to determine which ‘you’ to bring wherever you are. I demonstrated this recently to a group of teens at a state DECA business conference. I asked them what they would have thought if I had slouched and spoken in a soft voice as I began my presentation rather than standing strong, in my own power, with confidence. They wholeheartedly preferred the second. Me too. By choosing to hold my body in that position, I felt confidence coursing through me. Of course, I was prepared for the event. No amount of body positioning is going to totally carry you if you haven’t done your prep. You’ll get by but probably more on adrenaline than anything else. I also used to do this as I started a new school year with 125 new teenagers in front of me, a daunting task to be sure. It works!
Today is the second letter in POWER, the “O”. It stands for ‘oxygen’. Here’s why I made this such a vital part of the mix. When we want to bring our best self to the table, sometimes it’s at a challenging moment. Taking a deep breath allows us to take a moment to assess what’s about to happen, it sends oxygen to the brain (we could all use a bit more brain power at tough times) and calms us down.
I’m guessing the celebrities take a deep breath or two as they step out of the limo readying themselves for the onslaught of paparazzi. How scary must that be! I read recently that athletes do the same thing. A sports psychologist was asked what advice he would give to a pitcher on the mound in the 9th inning with two outs and a tied game. Answer? Take a couple of deep breaths. It’s sometimes that simple.
So what are the benefits of deep breathing? Here’s a list I found on one site when I googled “benefits of deep breathing”:
1. Detoxifies and Releases Toxins
2. Releases Tension
3. Relaxes the Mind/Body and Brings Clarity
4. Relieves Emotional Problems
5. Relieves Pain.
6. Massages Your Organs
7. Increases Muscle by bringing oxygen to them
8. Strengthens the Immune System
9. Improves Quality of the blood
10. Increases Digestion and Assimilation of food
11. Improves the Nervous System
12. Strengthen the Lungs
13. Makes the Heart Stronger.
14. Proper Breathing assists in Weight Control.
15. Boosts Energy levels and Improves Stamina
16. mproves Cellular Regeneration
17. Elevates Moods
I like this list because it includes many of the benefits I’ve known for years and many that I didn’t realize until I began researching. If you want to read the benefits in detail, go to: http://www.onepowerfulword.com/2010/10/18-benefits-of-deep-breathing-and-how.html
Many of the leading motivational leaders and thinkers tout the benefits of deep breathing. It’s obviously a big piece of meditation and yoga. It’s deliberate breathing; it’s focused breathing. It’s the antidote to the shallow breathing we do when we’re stressed, the kind that’s centered in the upper chest area.
I mentioned previously that many body positions equate with specific emotions. Stress and shallow breathing go hand in hand. In fact acting coach Jane Marla Robbins teaches her acting students to breathe from the chest rapidly if they want to portray a particularly stressful scene for their character.
There is one big additional benefit in taking the time to breathe. It gives us a moment before saying or doing something we might regret. This was especially powerful for students who loved the whole idea of deep breathing because it prevented them from getting in trouble with adults as well as some troublesome interactions with peers.
So hopefully by now you’re convinced that deep breathing is beneficial. You may have been doing it in stressful situations for years and that’s great. Now it’s part of a process that you can tap into when you need it, a more conscious go-to strategy to go along with your others.
So how do you do it for the best results?
Here’s how I learned it. Breathe in through the nose for a count of 5. Hold it for a count of 20. Breathe out through the mouth for a count of 10. There were reasons for that ratio (1:4:2) which had to do with leaving enough time for the air to be exchanged in the lungs and having a longer time breathing out to get rid of the bad air. You may be a little lightheaded when you first try it. If you are, stop! I had to actually say this to teens (and adults at my live seminars) because some of them just let themselves get tipsy! Many of us have lungs that are not at full capacity because we spend more time behind the laptop than at the gym. Use this ratio or whatever one works best for you.
Give this a try the next time you’re stressed. Step into your Star POWER and go for it!
P.S. Now you can choose to continue to the next day or wait until tomorrow. Either way, here's a link to the next chapter.