My to-do list is 21 items long today. When I think about my list, my breath quickens and body tenses like a jittery racehorse aiming for the finish line. I can spend an entire day – nay, sometimes a week – in this mode. But I’ve learned to notice the warning signs: shoulders lifted toward the ears, breath too shallow to notice, body too held to relax, disconnection from my surroundings. When I am aware, I can quickly transform to a more calm state by changing the focus to my internal environment.
First I notice my breath. Without any attempt to change it, I just notice where it is constricted. For a moment, I don’t have to DO anything since breath expands with simple attention. To enhance the effect, I take several full, deep breaths, immersing myself in the act of drawing in energy and releasing unwanted tension from every part, every cell in my body. I follow the swell of inhale from ribcage to toes and the discharge of negativity as it flows up and out through my nose.
Then I tune into the many other internal rhythms. Heartbeat, digestion, craniosacral, lymph flow. Slowing down to sense the subtle – even when I can’t feel it, even when I just imagine the rhythm of cerebrospinal fluid pulsing around the brain and spinal cord, even when my brain is crying that this is nonsense, we have work to do – I get in touch with my internal resources and less attached to the tension in my external muscles. I lose rigidity and gain sway.
Refreshed, I see the to-do list with new eyes. It is no longer an endurance race fueled by nerves and a whip. I am in the flow of accomplishment, handling tasks with finesse and ease. When I lose the flow, I simply need to slow down and rediscover it inside myself.