From the moment we are born we are given an incredible superpower, one that enables us to self-regulate, focus, be present, perform at our best and continue living! Most of us take this superpower for granted resulting in it being an automatic reflex or function that goes unnoticed, rather than a well-honed superpower that sets us up to be consistently at our best.
On a recent call with a senior executive, who arrived flustered, overwhelmed and stressed out, I asked a couple of questions to help him settle and be present. I quickly realised that we wouldn’t get very far unless he was able to be grounded and present. I suggested we take a moment to pause, step back and breathe. He responded rather skeptically, uncertainly and a little annoyed too.
It took us around 5 minutes to close our eyes, focus on our breathing and slowdown from the incredible speed of his day. Once we were done, I asked him how he experienced the exercise. His response was one of amazement. His tone of voice (this was a virtual call) was deeper, clearer and more vital. He expressed a sense of calm, clarity and relaxation that he hadn’t experienced in a long time and asked if we could use the remaining time to plan out his next day/week/month. I noticed how sharp, clear and composed his mindset was and how nimbly and quickly he was thinking now.
As we ended the 45min call, he expressed wonder at the simplicity of the exercise and the profound impact it had on him plus an eagerness to practice this going forward.
When we met a month later, he reflected that taking 3-5 minutes twice a day had transformed his energy, thinking, focus and leadership (of himself and others.) I am still in contact with him beyond our coaching partnership and he still gets great value out of using his breath as a superpower every day.
So, here are a few practical ways to build your breath as a superpower.
· Start your day with 3-5 minutes, with your eyes closed, and hands on your stomach noticing the stomach rise as you inhale and fall as your exhale. Keep your attention on your stomach and use slightly deeper breaths at first to help you focus and then allow your breath to return to its normal natural flow
· In your day, take a few deep breaths and as you exhale, each time, feel the breath in your gut/stomach and notice it moving down into your feet and toes(which are placed on the ground). Do this for a minimum of 30-60 seconds and notice the impact
· Between meetings take 30-60 seconds to observe your breath, if no-one is around, push your chair back and close your eyes while doing this. All it takes is 30-60 seconds
· In meetings, at traffic lights, walking between meetings, put your hands on your stomach and notice the rise and fall of your stomach (rather than flicking ineffectively through your mobile device feeds)
· Before an important meeting or presentation use the breath to anchor and centre you- resulting in a calmer, sharper and more focused presence
Experiment and notice the results for yourself as you build your breathe as a superpower. It’s often the things that are in front of us and are under our noses (literally in this case!) that enable us to be more energised, focused and impactful. So, go ahead, don’t be shy to use your breath as a superpower. Soon enough it will begin to serve you and others-after all, isn’t that why we have superpowers in the first place!