A mistake many commit on their frenzied journey of life is to opt for instant self-gratification. Liquor, drugs and sex give relief, but the hormone dopamine released by the brain through such short term pleasure soon wears off. Immediately then prolactin is released, and that causes the exact opposite effect of irritability and depression. Again one succumbs to high speed, thrills and pleasure just to keep up the momentum to be an achiever.
This volatile fluctuation of neurochemicals in our body weakens our immunity. Diseases strike at the slightest provocation, the body ages faster and overall life slumps on a downward spiral. The best way to get out of this vicious cycle is to pause and improve self-awareness.
Three ways to improve self-awareness
“Remember today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. Was it really worth it?” – Dale Carnegie
There are three simple and effective ways to improve your self-awareness and the resultant productivity:
1. ‘Present’ practises
We all breathe but are we conscious of it? Try deliberate, slow breathing- inhale deeply and then exhale slowly.
In my seminars I often ask participants to place their hands on their stomach and feel it as they inhale and exhale. When you breathe in, does your stomach come out or go in? What happens when you exhale? The class is often divided with half of the students claiming that their stomach goes in during a deep inhale and the other half is unsure. The point driven home is emphatic: we don’t even know how to breathe, something which even animals do so naturally. Our disconnect with self and nature is acute; we should therefore first learn to breathe normally and consciously.
A simple technique is to inhale deeply to the count of four, hold the breath to the count of eight and then exhale slowly to the count of eight. Focus on the sound of your breath; listen carefully as you inhale and exhale. In no time you’ll catch your mind wandering. Gently bring the mind back to breathing and in ten minutes you’ll be surcharged with fresh energy.
A five minute break, a few times during the day or even one ten minute breathing break could make your day more productive.
In case you are wondering if it’s practical to relax daily, given your hectic schedule and tight deadlines, ask yourself a simple question: ‘Can I afford to ignore it? And what are the long term costs involved in going against nature?’ I once read a nice quote that said, “In making a living today, many no longer leave room for life.”To be continued..