No matter your political affiliation, this season is probably stressing you out — and putting your central nervous system (CNS) on edge!
The best way to respond isn’t yelling at the first passerby that looks at you funny. Instead, establishing a routine that gives your CNS a little TLC is much more effective!
Why? If we take care of our CNS, we are less inclined to be emotionally reactive. That allows us to be more inclined towards seeking understanding, and most importantly, cultivating empathy. Empathy is more important than ever, so that we can begin to eliminate tribalism, fear-rooted decisions, and possibly impulsive and regrettable conversations (I know you’ve NEVER done that, but maybe you know a friend who has?).
So, do you remember when I mentioned the power of our breath a few articles back?
I explained that it was something many of us have a rather nonchalant relationship with, since we do it ALL the time.
Well, your breath, like your other relationships, can’t be taken for granted. Much like those you hold near and dear, it needs plenty of attention — especially because it plays a key role in giving our CNS that much-needed TLC.
If you missed the article (or just need a refresher), you can go back and read about the benefits of breath retention and suspension here. But the gist of it is that suspending your breath has incredible benefits to your parasympathetic nervous system and smooth muscle tissue, and allows your body to use the oxygen that already exists within your cells.
Think about it like recycling (You care about recycling plastic, right?) It allows us to practice that give-a-shit factor from the inside.
If you’d like to explore the power of breathing, here’s a practice you can do while you’re at your desk or walking during your lunch break. You can even do it while you’re dealing with a particularly challenging co-worker (Shhhh!).
The practice is called Equal Breathing — or, more traditionally, Sama Vritti.
We call it equal breathing because when we do this practice, we can imagine the shape of a square with equal sides and breath lengths.
In this “square” we:
1. inhale through the nose for 4 counts
2. suspend for 4 counts
3. exhale through the nose for 4 counts
4. suspend for 4 counts
If this begins to feel uncomfortable, you can use counts of 2 or 3. And as you become more accustomed to this practice, you’re welcome to extend the practice into counts of 8 or even 10.
If you are interested in learning more about the power of a breathing practice, sign up for our 6 week intensive, The Focus Factor, where I spill the beans about all sorts of brain and breath hacks and how they are part of a foundational set of practices that rewire our brain power our ability to focus and, ultimately, live our purpose.
I am also cooking up a month-long practice intensive, that will include breath work, meditation, and some other exciting accountability practices. Stay tuned.
For now, keep breathing, and keep doing the great work you’re doing.