I know I’m not the only one who feels off-kilter. And when I feel off-kilter, my productivity suffers. Today we have the second of a three part series from Erin Owen, an Eastern-inspired productivity expert, to guest blog and share her unique philosophy that brings Eastern wisdom to the Western idea of performance and productivity. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guest post guidelines.
In last week’s post, I focused on time management and the age-old framework of Yin and Yang. If you missed it, click here to discover if you’re a YIN’ie or a YANG’ie and what to do about it.
This week, we turn our attention to the breath. [Cue you: this is where you deeply inhale, then exhale, and realize you haven't been breathing all day! How are you getting by?]
As I write about in my new book Recharge, Refuel, and Re-energize: The Conscious Entrepreneur’s Guide to Taking Back Control of Your Time and Energy, more mindful breathing may just be the key to ramping up your productivity.
When you breathe in, not only does oxygen feed every cell in your body and brain, but you also bring in prana — the Sanskrit word for “life force energy.” The spark that is the central ingredient in prana and the breath is just that — the spark for your creativity, your passions, your intuition, your energy, and every other essential ingredient that creates the perfect recipe for you performing at your best.
Imagine for a moment this life force energy, traveling through all the energetic super highways in your body, lighting up:
- Your creative center in your abdomen [cue you: take some soft, deep belly breaths]
- The center of your joy and passions in your heart [feel the warmth in the center of your chest]
- The seat of your intuition behind the forehead and your frontal lobe [breathe a sigh of relief and allow the skin on the forehead to soften].
When you are stressed, pushing yourself too hard, distracted, and running around in a scattered manner from this task to that activity, you tend to hold your breath. Then, when you do breathe, it’s quite shallow.
Without even knowing it, you’re cutting off your life force energy and unintentionally limiting your capacity to be productive. (Remember last week’s post about Yin and Yang? In this case, the breath is Yin and you need more of it to balance the Yang tension you feel in your body.)
Your brain needs oxygen to think. The limbs of your body and your fingers (and every other part of your body) need oxygen to respond fully. In short, if you want to get stuff done, you need to breathe.
What Can You Do?
Well, thankfully, it’s quite simple: Just breathe!
Each time you notice you are holding your breath. Each time you notice you feel tense. Each time you are frustrated at what you can’t seem to figure out or get done. Just breathe.
The Bottom Line
If you want to perform at a higher level, putting forth your best effort, then I invite you to experiment with breathing more mindfully.
You might be surprised at how quickly you feel a sense of ease come into your body, a wave of relief washing over you, and a positive shift in your overall well-being.
And best of all, with a consistently mindful breath practice, you’ll benefit from the steady improvement in the quality and quantity of your performance — on the job and in your life at large.
Next week I’ll teach you about a critically important Eastern performance energetic principle related to how your feelings, thoughts, words, and actions directly affect your performance and productivity.
And if you want to do more than just dip your toe in this ocean, I invite you to travel with me to Bali for my next Performance Breakthrough Retreat, October 26 – November 5. Registration closes end of August and only a few spots remain. More details at YourPerformanceBreakthrough.com/Bali.
Erin Owen brings ancient Eastern practices to Western performance as a performance breakthrough coach and author.
Photo by Andrea Castelletti