I recall a conversation that took me quite a while to shake off. It was with a leader who was giving me feedback on my leadership style. The content was full of accusation, it was delivered aggressively and when I apologized for interrupting 20 minutes in, to ask for some examples, I was told that he ‘had not finished’ and my interruption was ‘what he was talking about’. When he finished 45 minutes later I was told to present my strategy for the business for the next 12 months. Not share my side of the story. It was a typical ‘yoursation’ not a conversation where both perspectives were considered.
One thing that kept me present in the conversation was breathing. Yep. Just one simple… slow… breath… after the other. And the voice inside my head that told me to ‘find the gold’ in the feedback so I could learn from it. It was such a difficult and stressful conversation and breathing allowed me to focus on the outcome – not having an outbreak.
When we find ourselves in difficult circumstances or conversations, we are not only trying to navigate the other persons reactions we are trying to self regulate all at the same time. It’s a real challenge, especially when the other person is not playing fair. As we know, the only person you can control in these situations is yourself. Then this we can own and focus on – self control.
When we breathe slowly it always has a direct affect on our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. It slows down our blood pressure, sends endorphins to our brain and tells our stress reactors, our fight or flight responses, to slow. It helps us stay in the moment. So the better we are at breathing calmly the better we can deal with situations. But that’s not the only benefit.
Breathing is proven to improve our health and wellbeing. Just watch a 2 minute video from Dr Andrew Weil who is known and voted as one of the top 100 most influencial people in the world. Dr Weil continues to be a pioneer for integrating medicine and mindfulness in treating patients and the results are measurable.
If you want to understand more watch this incredible documentary made by Connection TV that proves that mindfulness works. Or watch Sara Lazar’s TED talkto see the improvements it makes in improving anxiety, depressions, insominia and pain; increasing people ability to stay focused and their quality of life.
I can attest to the difference taking time to breath through meditation and being more mindful has made in my life and the conversations I have every day. I react less, I own more and I am happier as a result.
Go on. Do it! You’d be crazy not to. And the people around you will thank you.