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Take a Breather: Well-Being Practice

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This is the suggested Well-Being Practice for week two of the challenge. If this practice does not work for you (for whatever reason), then you can choose from one of our 3 Foundational Well-Being Practices. If you are a veteran player or these three practices are not new to you, then feel free to select from our comprehensive list of Well-Being Practices.

This Week We’re Going to Take a Breather

Simple Instructions:

  1. Some time during your work day, set a timer for anywhere from 1-5 minutes.
  2. Sit still, close your eyes, and breathe slowly, but comfortably.
  3. As you breathe in, notice the air going in. As you breathe out, notice the air going out.
  4. When you notice your mind wandering, go back to noticing the in and out of your breath — this may happen every second when you begin. 🙂

Watch this video for an explanation of this Well-Being Practice from Whole Life Challenge co-founders Andy Petranek and Michael Stanwyck.

Why Is It Important to Take a Breather?

We all want some time when we’re “off.” Off from email, work, errands, and other tasks and chores that take up so much of the day. Many us work faster, harder, and more in an effort to create this “time off.”

But trying to keep up with life is a bit like running on a hamster wheel — the faster you go, the faster the ground under your feet starts moving. Speeding up in the hopes you’ll get to the end faster only makes it more exhausting.

But there is a way to have your time off every day.

Just stop. Just for a minute. Stop.

Have you ever seen a hamster wheel move when the hamster isn’t running? Taking a minute or two (or five) to anchor yourself to this moment in your life can give you time like you wouldn’t believe.

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The amazing thing about time is that so much of what it “is” depends on your attention. Life happens one moment at a time. If you can get yourself to stop focusing on the moments that are coming and simply pay attention on this one right now, then you can make the time you have last much longer.

We’re going to try it out, right now. Open a timer and set it for one minute. You’re going to close your eyes and breathe slowly, but comfortably. Just thinking about air going in and out.

But before you start, I’ll warn you, here is what’s going to happen — your brain will start to deny this can work, it’ll think about the end of the minute, wondering when it’s going to be over, thinking about how a minute is never going to be long enough to feel rested.

And if you set your time for two minutes your brain will start flipping out wondering when this freaking longest-two-minutes-of-my-life will be over! And lots of other variations. That’s fine. It’s actually good. As soon as that happens, put your attention back on breathing in and breathing out.

Note: Why is it good that our brain does all that crazy chattering? Well, for many of us it’s one of the rare times we notice our brain is always ranting in the background. It’s good because it means we’re getting practice in taking our thought-energy back.

And, I know, you might not yet see how you could ever get enough time out of this practice to feel like you’ve actually reclaimed any of your life. Don’t worry. We’ll get there together. We’re going to start simply. The good news is that this doesn’t require more time in the day. It takes making the time you have yours. And it only requires something you already have — your breath.

For More on This Practice

Lorin RocheDid you realize that every time your breath cycles, you’ve experienced a tiny meditation?

Inhaling, building tension, then exhaling and relaxing — this is the same pattern that occurs when you meditate. And meditation is as natural to the human body and mind as breathing.

Whether you’ve never meditated or you feel you could go further with your meditation, you need to get to know Lorin Roche.

From discovering that thinking about your to-do list is both natural and useful to letting go of how to meditate “correctly,” there is something in this podcast for everyone. Click here to listen.

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Michael Stanwyck
Michael Stanwyck is the co-founder of The Whole Life Challenge, an idea that developed during his seven years as a coach and gym manager at CrossFit Los Angeles.

He graduated from UCLA with a BA in philosophy as well as a degree from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, and feels food is one of the most important parts of a life - it can nourish, heal, and bring people together.

Michael believes health and well-being are as much a state of mind as they are a state of the body, and when it comes to fitness, food, and life in general, he thinks slow is much better than fast (most of the time). Stopping regularly to examine things is the surest way to put down roots and grow.

He knows he will never be done with his own work, and believes the best thing you can do for your well-being starts with loving and working from what you’ve got right now.