I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Slow Your Home, and the guest was Scott Eblin, an executive coach who helps managers improve their leadership presence by being fully present. He had such practical wisdom to share that applies to everyone, not just executives. He also shares one simple but powerful tip to start living mindfully today.
Living Mindfully: A Definition
Eblin defines mindfulness as having two parts: awareness and intention. Awareness of what is going on around me and awareness of what is going on inside of me (mentally, physically, emotionally) in reaction to what is going on around me. He states that once we are aware, we can then be intentional about what we are going to do or not going to do.
Two Principles and a Practice
When asked by Brooke, of Slow Your Home, what people can do to start living more mindfully, he starts with two insightful principles:
- The only person who is going to take care of you is you.
- As you’re looking for a way to change your situation, don’t look for a 100% solution. Look for a 5% solution. Ask yourself, “what little thing can I do today or this week that will make a difference?” The 5% solution over time will add up.
When Eblin makes the first point, he encourage us not to wait for our employers to implement wellness programs or family friendly policies. It is up to us to make self care and healthy practices a priority.
The 5% Solution to Living Mindfully
His encouragement for a 5% solution really struck me because it’s my philosophy when trying to implement any change in my life. My solutions have been incremental 5 minute solutions when trying to instill new and healthy habits like exercise, decluttering, or prayer.
What is the 5% solution that will help me progress, versus the 100% solution that promises “perfection” (which is largely unattainable). He repeatedly shares “progress comes incrementally, then suddenly.”Progress comes incrementally, then suddenly - YES! Quote from @ScottEblin Click To Tweet
His mantra reminded me of the times that I have seen a building being constructed, then being shocked one day when it’s totally done. I always say, “Wow, that went up fast!” In reality though, it didn’t – progress was incremental, then sudden.
The Secret to Start Living Mindfully
So, what is the secret? The secret to start living mindfully right now is to take 3 deep belly breaths. Everyone can do it. It doesn’t require you to change anything about your circumstances at work or home. It just requires you to take a minute and do it. It’s simple, effective, and accessible.
The important part is to get air all the way down to your belly. To know if you are doing that, you can place your hand lightly on your belly, breathe in for 4 counts, hold it for 2 counts, and breathe out for 4 counts. You should feel and see your hand rising and falling as you breathe in and out. Repeat 3 times.
Eblin encourages us with the fact that taking 3 deep belly breaths, or taking a 10 minute walk, will counteract the “fight or flight” response from chronic stress and stimulate the “rest and digest” response.
His book, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative, goes into all of this in greater detail, and I’m excited to read it!
How are you trying to live mindfully? Does it include deep breathing?
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