“Science has validated the power of breathing and mindfulness to enhance our well-being. Sandy Abrams' advice is a simple but incredibly effective way to make mindfulness a part of your life and help you thrive in our always-on world." --Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global Technology has revolutionized the business sector. Whether you're an entrepreneur, employee, CEO, or executive, you're likely feeling the effects of less humanity and more technology. Our minds are distracted, our attention spans are shortened, we want everything on demand, in boxes are never empty, our energy is frequently negative, we're addicted to social media, and we're sleep deprived. This cannot be the new normal. Breath is the antidote!
Breathe to Succeed shares the transformative power of breath in business. Even just three deep breaths at key moments can be nothing short of miraculous. With Abrams's fast, simple, and effective breathing techniques, you'll become more mindful and engaged and experience better moods, a calmer perspective, and positive energy that will translate to next-level productivity, creativity, and clarity. Breathe to Succeed will teach you how to:
- Utilize a variety of simple breath techniques to access your optimal energy and manage your emotions in the moment.
- Become self-aware of your negative thought patterns/behavior and rewire your brain with positive new habits.
- Activate the power of your mind to breathe through challenges, make better decisions, and reach goals effortlessly.
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About the Author
Sandy Abrams is the founder of Moisture Jamzz, the author of Your Idea, Inc., and a contributor on HuffPost and Thrive Global. She credits her entrepreneurial success to her nearly 30 years of yoga and breath practice. She has consulted as a small business thought leader, content curator, and social influencer for brands like Capital One, LegalZoom, Sage software, and Marriott. Sandy also leads Breathe Like a Boss! and C.E.'Om workshops to share the power of breath for success. She lives in Los Angeles, California.
Read an Excerpt
THE (UNDERUTILIZED) POWER OF BREATH FOR SUCCESS
When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.
Before I had my "aha" moment for a beauty product idea and built it into a multimillion-dollar business (Moisture Jamzz), before I wrote my first small-business guidebook (Your Idea, Inc., Adams Media, 2009), and before I built my entrepreneurial/small-business consulting business, the only thing I was known for, way back in 1989, was "the girl who always left yoga class right before Savasana." Sanskrit (an ancient language of India) for "corpse pose," Savasana is the last pose of yoga class where you lie still for several minutes. Being still made me anxious. Savasana seemed like a complete waste of time. I'd stare at the ceiling as my mind swirled into to-do lists and my heart set off to race. I saw no value in those last five minutes of class. I had places to go and people to see. I had no respect for stillness. I wasn't wired for it. "Namaste, see you tomorrow!" I'd nod to the teacher and slip out the door sideways.
Slithering out of yoga class pre-Savasana was a total rookie move that was offensive both to my teachers and the practice of yoga. It was also a disservice to my mind and body. But at that time, I wasn't capable of questioning my disdain for stillness or even to simply recognize the value of those precious moments at the end of class. The teachers began to pull me aside and ask why I bothered making the daily effort (sometimes twice a day) to attend yoga class but left before it was over. They'd kindly urge me to complete the traditional practice. Instead of faking it, I decided to try to experience what they all considered the "most important pose." When it was time for Savasana, I awkwardly stayed on my mat with eyes wide open, but I wasn't finding any answers in the ceiling fans, so I closed my eyes. Only there, in my internal darkness, was my body finally moved to take a long, deep breath, allowing me to quietly settle in. How was it that one simple deep breath could magically ease me into a "space" of centering that I had never arrived at before? Ever.
That powerful yet peaceful place where I could be still and quiet and absorb all the goodness of the practice ... that was Savasana. Aha! Savasana is the reason that we do an entire yoga flow class in the first place — to get to a place where our mind and body can happily be still. Instead of Savasana making me tired, as I feared it would, it was completely rejuvenating. It felt like my mind and body were holding hands and smiling. I felt whole and connected, focused and energized. Therein was my truth; when I owned my deep breath, I could connect my mind and body and take control of my pace, my mood, and my attitude ... on and off the mat. The indelible lesson of simple deep breathing had been formed and I'd never look back. Breath is an extremely underutilized tool for success. We have to do it to stay alive, and yet, the tool remains untapped in the lungs of stressed-out, overworked people all over the globe. I hope to change that, one deep breath at a time. I'm compelled to share my story of breath and its full effect on my entrepreneurial life in hopes that doing so will help many others in business on so many levels. Not everyone has the capacity or desire to do long-form meditation, but we can all tap into the empowering benefits of 3DB (three deep breaths) as meditation.
Three deep breaths (3DB) has given me more inner strength than I could ever have imagined. 3DB is the best way to begin to get to know the power of your breath. Once you begin to own your breath, you'll never have to experience a challenge on your own again. Your breath will always be with you to support and empower. I initially shared my enthusiasm for breath in 1998 when I wrote my first article in the spa industry magazine Pulse. In my article, titled "02 Breathe!," I shared my experience with breath after almost ten years of practice and told how it sustained me in business and in life as a new mom. But in that pre–social media time, there was no engagement after it published and I was busy building a business, so there was no further conversation. Now that meditation is mainstream and the business sector has become what it is today, the timing could not be better to share my (even deeper) enthusiasm with breath for success.
When you enhance your breath, you connect to your mind and body, and this connection allows you to be in sync with your positive and strategic thoughts to "breathe your goals to life." With mindful breathing, you'll begin to access everything inside you that will have you performing at your highest level, feeling a sense of control and limitless potential. It will bring more value than you can fathom at this moment. Improving your breath and mindset is what leads you to finding and exemplifying attributes of success. Qualities like patience, persistence, confidence, nonjudgmental behavior, clarity, creativity, and compassion are easily accessible through breath and will help tremendously in business. When you're moving from a place of inner strength and positive intentions, you solve problems easier, make better decisions, have clearer lines of communication, and build a culture of respect that leads to long-term success.
EMPOWER YOURSELF WITH BREATH
Breath can be your closest comrade in the battle of business. It will always be with you as a first level of defense against what can be the most brutal force on the field: your own (negative) mindset. Breath facilitates that connection to finally liberate you from feeling driven by habitual negative thoughts and emotions. There's a vulnerability that entrepreneurs face while trying to juggle all aspects of a business until we have the means to either fully learn a process or bring in people who are strong where we are weak. Until then, we have to learn to roll with the punches as new and unusual situations arise daily. We can find empowerment from Breathing Like a Boss to get back up each time we feel defeated.
When others tell you that your ideas sound silly and ridiculous, when the manufacturer that you need is nowhere to be found, when your comments aren't being heard in a meeting, when you've been overlooked for a promotion, when someone else got the sale or took the opportunity, when you get that sideways look that makes you feel completely inept or ignorant when you're just trying to learn something — breath is the tourniquet.
Enhancing your breath from the automatic shallow breathing pattern allows you to control your energy by connecting to the corresponding part of your brain that regulates emotion. (More in Chapter 2 about the power of the mind.) Tal Ben-Shahar, PhD, says, "Shallow breathing is a reaction to the unyielding stress of modern life — and is itself a cause of further stress, which leads to more shallow breathing." You may lose many fights, but you're in it to win the battle, right? You can begin to fill the well of doubt or negativity with each deep breath. Shallow breathing brings shallow results.
BREATH IS THE NEW MEDITATION
Sure, it seems that most people want to meditate; they like the idea of it, but there's a real disconnect between wanting and doing because of the time and effort involved to just sit still. Meditating for a full session every day is a difficult sell for many, let alone the stereotypical Type A's with short attention spans or an overworked and time-crunched employee, corporate leader, or entrepreneur. Breath is the first step. Meditation is frequently thought of singularly in regard to finding enlightenment and feeling Buddha like — calm and chill — but it's so much more. One deep breath can be considered a meditation. It's science; it's not mystical. Breathing Like a Boss covers a big swath that includes not only calm and chill but also a plethora of other positive emotions to help you take charge, accomplish your goals, and up the ante with productivity.
Enhancing your breath is ground zero, the perfect place to begin to feel the benefits of meditation without having to reserve a chunk of time or master the art of stillness. It meets you where you are. Mindful breath is meditation at the speed of todays on-demand business lifestyle. There's abundant power in even one deep breath, but 3DB is still my go-to several times a day. It's my reset button and nobody's even the wiser. You can be completely inconspicuous while you're regrouping your energy. 3DB is an easy way to begin to experience the power of your breath and the freedom and strength that it brings. Imagine how much better and more productive your work will be when you begin to take advantage of mindful breath. With each deep breath you inhale, you can bring in something positive while letting go of what's holding you back with every exhale.
As with meditation, many different types of breath techniques are available as well as endless ways to enhance them. (Learn more coming up in Chapters 2 and 3.) You can begin and end with 3DB (three deep breaths) and still have life-changing results. Or you can dive deep and go wide. I look at breath practice in the same way that I see entrepreneurship: we all need to find our own unique way by doing. I hope to open your mind to the idea that owning your breath can be completely transformative and easily integrated into your day to add a sense of ease in reaching your goals and enjoying your journey to full-blown success — whatever that means to you. We all have different ideas of what success is, so be true to yourself. Finding clarity on your meaning of success will also become easier with breath practice.
IT'S TIME FOR YOU TO BREATHE LIKE A BOSS!
If you let a negative mood or energy ruin your day, that's usually when things go awry, right? It's when we experience the broad, intense range of emotions that business can evoke (sometimes all before 10 A.M.!) that it's up to each of us to stop, refuel, and refocus with breath. We forget (or may not have ever fully understood or believed) that how we think and feel is a choice! Without my breath practice to help tap into my confidence and inner strength back when I was launching my business, I definitely would have given up at several difficult milestone points. But I chose to breathe, stay positive and strong. I had to.
Without breath and mindfulness, I wouldn't have been able to ignore the salesman at the fabric cutting company who chuckled and condescendingly told me that my order was way too small for their production requirements. I stopped in my tracks because I needed reinforcement. I could easily have said something nasty and stormed back to my car, but instead, I took my 3DB, refueled with positive intention (and some chutzpah), and calmly marched with purpose around to the back cutting area to speak with the manager. I confidently pleaded my case for smaller minimums; I needed help meeting current demand but had to start small. Apparently, the manager saw potential and made an exception. That felt much better than the alternative. I went on to become one of their biggest customers. Breath.
Simultaneously, without the power of breath and positive mindset I wouldn't have had the fortitude to walk in and out of well over fifty sewing contractor offices while struggling with a language barrier to find the right match for my difficult-to-sew product. Mission accomplished, but it was long after I would have given up if it weren't for my breath as a guiding force. I still have one of the original sewing contractors from those (difficult) days working with me twenty-five years later. Breath. Without my breath practice priming me before important phone calls, I never would have sounded confident enough to talk with big corporate buyers. I landed a large chain store account before I even knew what "PO" meant. Seriously. I was outside of the business world; my degree was in broadcasting journalism. "Purchase Order" wasn't in my lingo yet. When the buyer mentioned it, I had to quickly call my friend who was in sales for the translation. You don't know what you don't know, so sounding confident can go a long way until your confidence actually comes from experience. Breath also helped me through many challenges with technology at times of complete frustration — from learning electronic data interchange, or EDI (electronic methods for purchase orders and shipments), to later dealing with things like algorithms and search engine optimization (SEO). Innovations in technology make it pretty difficult for non-techies like myself to keep up with digital marketing. Tech in the digital marketing space was unlike most other aspects of bootstrapping where a small business entrepreneur can fake-it-till-you- make-it. Breath.
Energy that is positive, clear, and confident allows for the kind of mindset that will make better decisions, and it's our daily decisions (even the ones that seem small) that lead us closer (or further away) from our goals. Breath brings tenacity for endurance and long-term persistence. It never gets old, and it's always empowering. So many things are out of your control every day at work, so utilize the one thing that you can control — your breath and therefore your thoughts, emotions, energy, and actions.
BREATH IS READY WHEN YOU ARE
Breath will meet you right where you are. No need to hold onto the stress, anger, or frustration and wait for the evening gym workout, run, or yoga class. You'll still get there, but you can begin to manage your situation right away with breath. Nobody knows exactly what you need to hear in a challenging moment better than you do. Begin to silently speak up to yourself in the moment. Show up for yourself. Tell yourself that you're going to be fine, that you can do it, breathe slowly and deeply with the intention of mustering up your inner strength. It's in there; breath will bring it to you. Exercise classes are awesome — I'm a big fan of the collective energy of a daily yoga class — but for the other twenty-three hours of the day, you are your best teacher and biggest supporter. Take the inspiration from classes and personalize it. That's where the "aha" moments happen; the real transformation happens inside. You are in control of your thoughts and emotions. 3DB and you can "turn on a dime." No need to wait for an outside source to recalibrate and turn a bad situation into a win.
When you learn how to be self-aware (coming up in this chapter) and upgrade your breath, you'll make mindful business decisions rather than hasty ones. You'll build meaningful long-term business relationships rather than simply conduct transactions. You'll tap into your creativity instead of just working from random or mediocre ideas. You can expand your energy and mindset by activating different kinds of breathing techniques and swapping your automated shallow breath for higher-performance oxygen while detoxifying your body at the same time. Breath is the catalyst that will begin to change the way you reach your goals. You'll communicate with your brain and instruct it to help your mind and body think and feel in a way that will lead to expansion — more success, more opportunity, more abundance. You can take control. It's hard to imagine how something so simple can be so transformative.
BREATH IS FOR SUCCESS ... AND WELLNESS
There's an SOS that I'm hearing loud and clear within the business sector. We are a little over a decade into using smartphones and our fully immersed digital business lifestyle has no real boundaries. We are expected to be available 24/7/365 ... and we don't always mind! Maybe it's an excuse to have our eyeballs attached to our screens. Maybe we enjoy the distraction. Maybe we're addicted. Maybe we love what we do. Regardless, this connected lifestyle can lead to a warped sense of busyness that's easily mistaken as productivity and constant connectivity leads to low-level chronic stress.
Technology is only going to continue to increase in our lives, but we have human needs and limitations that need to be managed. Experts have said that our brain and body are not designed for this current lifestyle of excessive screen time (more on this in Chapter 4). The power of breath can answer this SOS and bring much-needed relief to refocus and manage our digital stimulation and distraction. It's in moments of enhanced breath that you can feel like you're in Savasana basking in the goodness of silence and stillness, recovering and recharging. Utilizing your new favorite breath technique at key moments in business will make you more mindful and productive. Breath is at your beck and call. Breath also has compounded benefits that stick around long after each exhale.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Breathe to Succeed"
Copyright © 2019 Sandy Abrams.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The (Underutilized) Power of Breath for Success 11
Chapter 2 Understanding the Power of Your Mind 47
Chapter 3 Breathe Your Goals to Life 77
Chapter 4 Digital Wellness: Unplug to Recharge 107
Chapter 5 Turn Your Morning Routine Into a Powerful Ritual 139
Chapter 6 C.E.'Oms: Visionaries of Mindful Business 173
Chapter 7 The Student Becomes the Master: Owning Your Breath 213