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Pilar Gerasimo

I don’t know about you, but in my world, there are days where it feels like every moment is spoken for — or worse, being fought over.

Too often, from the time I wake up until the time my head hits the pillow, I’m scheduled. I keep a pad of paper by my bed because many nights, even after my head hits the pillow, my brain is still busy making lists of things for my body to do.

For the most part, I’m busy doing things I love, things that I believe are worthwhile, things that I believe help make a positive difference. But even so, there are many times when I wish I could feel less busy, less frenetic, a little more centered and at peace.

I want to feel more often the way I feel at the end of a good yoga class. Or sinking into a hot bath. Or settling into a nice long meditation.

[callout]I’m alive, conscious, and breathing. I’m doing OK. There’s no need, in Byron Katie’s wise words, to “argue with reality.” I can just be here now and be fine with that.[/callout]The problem is, it’s precisely on the crazy days, when I am most hungry for those sorts of relaxing activities, that I’m least likely to have them scheduled. And on those kinds of days, if something isn’t scheduled, it probably isn’t going to happen.

That’s why I’ve come up with a two-minute calming ritual I can squeeze in around the nuttiest of itineraries.

It requires no special equipment and can be done just about anywhere, even when I’m feeling frantic, reactive, or hopelessly behind schedule.

I call it “The I-Am-Here Cure.” And it’s a combination of a classic 4-7-8 relaxation breath along with some body-mind tricks that I’ve experimented with and found work well for me.

Here’s what you do:

  • Wherever you are, come to a complete stop (if you’re driving, pull over). Set down anything you are holding.
  • Stand or sit with both feet flat on the floor. Gently pull your chin back so that your head isn’t jutting out ahead of your body (a classic rushing posture we tend to unconsciously adopt).
  • Inhale slowly through your nose, counting to four. As you inhale, straighten your spine, drop your shoulders, and lift your head. Gaze straight ahead at a particular spot on the wall, or a particular area on the horizon.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven, resting the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth.
  • Exhaling through your mouth (with your tongue still in place), expel all the breath in your lungs over a count of eight.
  • With lungs empty, hold your breath for a count of three, gently blinking your eyes on each count, retraining your eyes on the same spot each time you reopen them.
  • Allow yourself to breathe in again through your nose, feeling the sense of relief as air comes into your lungs.
  • Keep your lungs filled for just a moment, then slowly exhale while saying to yourself, silently or aloud: “I . . . Am . . . Here.”

Speaking this simple, factual statement from a still, conscious state reminds me that, whatever my worries about the future may be, at the moment, I just am where I am.

I’m alive, conscious, and breathing. I’m doing OK. There’s no need, in Byron Katie’s wise words, to “argue with reality.” I can just be here now and be fine with that.

Often, even that little bit of present-moment reality is enough to help get my wits about me. And from there, I can proceed with a more conscious sense of calm to whatever comes next.

So, that’s what works for me.

This issue of Experience Life is filled with lots of other fun ideas and powerful perspective shifts to help you discover what works for you. From more effective ways of approaching weight loss to more nuanced ways of resolving conflict, plus some smart ways to avoid overscheduling yourself in the first place.

Oh, and if you are looking for another rewarding way to spend two valuable minutes, may I suggest you go grab our incredible new enhanced digital edition for iPad from the App Store? (The first time you download the app, the current issue is free.)

That way you can keep this and future issues of Experience Life (with lots of fun interactivity and bonus content) always at your fingertips and ready to share with the people you love most.

Thoughts to share?

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