Before my 2019 Word of the Year is revealed, give yourself a gift: Take a momentary tour of your consciousness and assess your emotional state. Start by inhaling deeply. Go on. Pull the air through your nostrils. Does it tickle a bit? Is the air cold or warm? Feel how the air fills your lungs. Notice how your chest expands. Ahhhh. Now expel the air, slowly. How does that feel?
Congratulations, you’ve just practiced mindfulness! For those of you who have committed to meditation & mindfulness as a New Year’s resolution, take one more moment to give yourself a mental fist pump. Celebrate the fact that you’re on your way! I’ll stand by.
Meditation and mindfulness have become important practices in my life. For full disclosure, I’m not a traditional meditator by any stretch. Like most of my productivity practices, I’ve adapted meditation to best serve my needs. I formally meditate, as in I “find an upright position where I’m both comfortable and alert”, 4 to 5 times a week for about 20 minutes per sitting (“mediation lite” for my TM-practicing friends). But whether it’s a one-minute meditation before a business meeting, or just a single cleansing breath, I’m tapping into the power of meditation and mindfulness every time.
I use these quick hits of existence to check in with myself. The deliberate inhalation serves as an anchor, bringing me to the present— a real-time assessment of what I’m feeling. In a fleeting instant I attune physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally: “What is my state?” Are my hands clenched? What’s that slight irritation right below my consciousness? Is it anxiety? Judgment? Defensiveness? Impatience? Excitement? Then I release luxuriously, simply letting go. That sweet exhalation of breath is the turning point responsible for settling down my entire nervous system.
Once the breath is expended, I have a choice of what to breathe in again. Instead of anxiety, I can choose to breathe in gratitude, hope, or even humor. You get the picture. With each release, one becomes capable of choice. This, my friends, has inspired my 2019 Word of the Year: Release! This word will also serve as the model for DRIVEN’s explorations throughout the coming year, including the different angles and dimensions of “Release” and an intentional modification: “Re-lease”.
The Variations on “Release”
As my friend and colleague Dom DiPasquale once observed, “You are the CEO of your life”. Yet, due to the lightning-speed pacing of our lives, we often end up in-trance, trapped on that professional hamster wheel, perpetually on the run and frustrated because we never quite arrive. Do you ever feel like you’re either holding your breath or out of breath? By pausing and intentionally releasing thoughts, feelings and actions that don’t serve us, we clear enough mind space to re-lease life, and design the ideal life we deserve to enjoy.
As it turns out, we humans have a lot to release. Besides mindfulness about breathing, these are some of the practices I’d been working with when the word “release” presented itself:
Physical Release: Unbeknownst to us, we walk around clenched. Check in with three spots and mindfully unclench: your jaw, your hands and your butt cheeks. To go one step farther, massage the the vagus nerve. You can stimulate it by giving yourself a head massage at the back of the skull where it meets the neck.
Mental Release: “Empty your mind.” Bruce Lee was not only a kung fu master but also a great philosopher (admired for it post-mortem, unfortunately). This saying, along with “like water my friend”, refers to releasing, letting go, and being open to influence.
Emotional Release: When walking up a waterfall in Jamaica, the guide kept reminding us, “If you slip you slide. If you slide, you fall.” As I challenge catabolic emotions like anxiety, impatience, defensiveness, frustration etc., I came up with my own chant: “When I release, I can expand. When I expand, I can absorb.” And I can actually feel myself calming.
Spiritual Release (aka: What makes life satisfying to me): My training as a Conversational Intelligence® Certified Coach has guided me to think aspirationally instead of in terms of goals. Releasing rigid expectations and goals allows us to be more creative and agile— not boxing in our thinking to fit a concrete goal.
In my exploration of how releasing the stuff that doesn’t serve our lives can lead to growth and satisfaction, I’m only scratching the surface. Throughout 2019, I’ll share thoughts, ideas, challenges and action plans in your weekly Tuesday note from DRIVEN and in our monthly Drive Thru. Next week’s blog article will discuss my attempts to release my perfectionist tendencies (I call myself a recovering perfectionist.) And besides my voice, look forward to hearing from others who specialize in such areas of personal development, especially through DRIVEN’s blog. And finally, we’ll be synching DRIVEN’s monthly OfficeHours (3rd Fridays at noon) to these areas of exploration.
Make this your year of clarity and control. Take a few moments now to decide what you would like to release. Write down the thoughts, feelings and actions that no longer serve you, and join the DRIVEN team in our journey as we re-lease our lives, our work and our impact.
If you’d like to engage on a deeper level, and are interested in learning about individual coaching, schedule a complimentary consultative session HERE.
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