One of the simplest ways to calm and focus yourself before a meeting or an important discussion is to practice abdominal breathing; this is as simple as sitting down and spending a few minutes focusing inwards on your breath. Abdominal breathing helps you get more oxygen into your lungs, gives you something to focus your mind on, and slows your heart and breathing rates. This in turn helps you to be calmer and more focused. Although it takes a bit of practice in the beginning, it will soon feel natural and effortless.
When you focus inward on your breath, you will notice that your breaths become deeper and slower, thereby calming your nervous system. If you practice abdominal breathing on a regular basis, you will notice that you are generally calmer and better able to focus. In addition, you will be more in touch with your intuition as well as more effective and resourceful.
Exercise: Abdominal Breathing
- Sit up tall with one hand on your navel.
- Relax your belly, close your eyes, and inhale deeply through your nose so that the hand over your navel is pushed outward (your belly should swell like a balloon).
- Exhale deeply through your nose and notice how your navel comes back in towards your spine.
- Relax your belly even more and breathe deeply without forcing the breath.
- Continue for a couple of minutes, breathing deeply and slowly.
Barb Pierce, BEng, MBA, PCC, is owner and principal coach at Coaching Horizons. Her book, Become a Coach Leader One Conversation at a Time, explores how leaders can empower others by asking questions that promote learning and providing a safe place to take risks. Barb is now offering yoga classes, coaching instruction and one-on-one coaching at her new wellness centre at the Thoburn Mill. coaching-horizons.com