Your peak performance requires clear, focused thinking
Now, here is the secret!
Would you like to feel better in less than ten seconds? If so, try the following exercise, called “Three Slow Breaths.” As you do, keep your eyes open, and don’t stop reading.
Feels good, doesn’t it?
Don’t stop reading.
On your next breath, take a deeper inhale.
Hold it and count to one.
Make this exhale a little longer than you usually do.
Stop at the end of this exhale and count one.
Next, inhale even a little more deeply than last time.
Hold the inhale for two counts.
Very slowly, exhale this time.
Hold after exhaling for two counts.
Now, return to normal breathing.
What just happened?
You stopped worrying for ten seconds! Your concentration was on your breath, which keeps you in the present moment. For those ten seconds you were Here & Now. You were not reliving a fearful experience from the past nor were you projecting into a future in which that fear would repeat. With your attention on your breath, you were experiencing the power of the present moment. For ten seconds, you were not worried about losing your job, a sick relative, your child’s report card, or the day you will die. You were in the present moment.
Here & Now.
Welcome to peace of mind and to the presence of mind.
Welcome to a state of fearlessness.
If you’re anything like me, you scan the table of contents looking for the chapter that tells you how it’s done, the secrets, the answers, and the keys to the kingdom. Why? Because you want answers now!
So here’s your answer. Now you know how to calm down and how to use three slow breaths to bring peace of mind. Good news! This breath exercise will work for you anywhere, at any time.
Try doing it ten times in the next twenty-four hours—at work, on the phone, in the so-called express lane at the supermarket, in traffic, in an elevator, at a restaurant when your three-minute egg hasn’t arrived after ten minutes. And don’t worry; no one will know what you’re doing.
Fred’s Everyday Stress Tips
An unreasonable or overwhelming demand on the nervous system.
1. Live today only. Cling to no animosity regarding yesterday. Holding resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.
Take three slow breaths.
2. Take a slow breath and say a short affirmation, prayer, or mantra. Take two slow breaths. Continue breathing.
3. Carry with you something small that reminds you of peaceful times—a lucky charm or a talisman. When agitated, pull your object out of your pocket or purse and hark back to a moment of tranquility.
4. Sit down, close your eyes, and visualize yourself in your favorite place in nature. Use all of your sense memories.
5. Step outside. Feel the sun on your face. Say “thank you” for the day.
6. Laugh out loud and decide to be happy. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Laughing makes us breathe deeper.
Worry not. Here’s why—take your pick.
1. My grandmother said that worrying was like her rocking chair. It gave her something to do, but it didn’t get her anywhere.
2. There is a Tibetan proverb: “If a problem has a solution, there is no need to worry about it. If there is no answer to the problem, worry will do no good.”
3. My grandfather said that worrying was a way of praying for what you don’t want.
Fred’s Rules of Non-Engagement
1. Avoid arguments in general, but especially with people who are not in the room with you.
2. Do not engage.
3. If engaged, do not escalate.
Never, ever pass up a good opportunity to shut the f**k up.