Living in the Moment
We have the power to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world”.-
Jill Bolte Taylor, Stroke of Insight
During a Positive Intelligence coach training session, I rewatched a powerful video (from 2008) on the importance of living in the moment. Today Jill Bolte Taylor’s story seems more relevant than ever. After a sudden stroke at age 37 changed the course of this neuroanatomist’s life, she chose to focus on the learning.
As Bolte Taylor so passionately expressed in her “Stroke of Insight” TED talk (with over 28 million views to date!), events are ultimately neutral; meaning they’re neither good nor bad, but open to individual interpretation.
Your brain creates stories out of life experiences, often amplifying the negative and putting you at the core. Your partner ignores you, so you assume they must find you uninteresting. Your colleague interrupts you again, clearly, you’re invisible. This prediction may very well come true if you’re less likely to speak up next time because of it. It’s easy to take these fear-based stories as fact and adapt our responses to fit this narrative.
In Jill Bolte Taylor’s words “you have the power to choose, moment by moment” whether to see the same event as either a problem or an opportunity and decide to respond accordingly. The challenge is, we’re usually so swept up in the moment, we don’t have the chance to choose.
Right now, it’s more common than ever to feel overwhelmed, too distracted to focus, or choose to align our actions with our priorities. Things are changing too quickly to get our heads around, so it’s easy to get stuck in a stress-driven pattern of thinking.
Which is one reason I’m so drawn to breathwork. It’s a way to tap into the strong link between neurons responsible for controlling breathing and the region of the brain responsible for arousal and panic. Regulating your breath is a way to regulate your emotions. Breathwork helps to eliminate the feeling of overwhelm as you get in the habit of moving from worrying about the past or future and into the present moment.
In a 2017 research study, Mark Krasnow of Stanford, Jack Feldman of the University of California, Los Angeles, and their colleagues discovered this relationship is anchored through the diaphragm, the only organ in the body that is skeletal muscle designed for voluntary movement. You can use the breath to immediately take control of the diaphragm, so breathing represents a bridge between the conscious and unconscious control of the body.
If you’re feeling too overwhelmed to get clear on your goals, figure out your next move, launch your project or change your life, begin by learning to use your breath to manage your inner dialogue.
In the words of Tony Robbins “Breath is the key to physical and mental well-being, and if done properly, it can boost energy, relieve pain, and transform our lives.”
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