Slow down and breathe

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Two minutes of running as a beginner and I was gasping for air. How did people run for a mile? I couldn’t make it around the block. I asked my fast-footed sister for advice.

“You’ve got to slow your breathing down,” she said. I had no idea how to do that, but on my next run, I focused on my breathing and tried to slow to a reasonable pant. And guess what? It worked. It seems that focusing on your breath, a common mantra in yoga, works like magic in stopping that fish-out-of-water heaving I thought was inevitable.

Slowing down has turned out to be my favorite Jedi mind trick lately. When I’m about to start a complex writing project, slowing down and finding my place in the moment increases my focus and productivity. And much faster than my past strategy of frantically jumping in and flapping around like a chicken in a swimming pool.

This blog post is a prime example. I get the idea for writing a blog post about slowing down, so when I finally bring the laptop out and start drafting it, I feel this urgency to write it, all at once. Not over hours or days, but now, in this minute.

So I take a breath. I notice where I am. I remind myself that there really is no hurry. I get the words out of my head and onto virtual paper, and then I stop. I let the work breathe, and I come back to it, sometimes in half an hour or sometimes in days. I re-evaluate it, work on it some more. Usually I improve it, sometimes I scrap it. Slowing down the process from rough draft to final often helps me take the work to the next level of creativity and quality. Kinda like how slowing down your breath allows you to run further (I’m up to three miles now) and, later, faster.

Slow down
Slow down
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