Regular readers of my blog know that I’ve learning to manage my e-mail volume so that it doesn’t overwhelm me on a daily basis. My April 5 blog post outlined a series of steps I’ve been taking to get my e-mail under control. I’m still following those tips for the most part (although I sometimes fall off the weekly planning routine wagon) and e-mail is much better. That doesn’t mean I don’t still feel overwhelmed. So today, I want to share a second technique with you, and believe me, it’s something completely different.
The technique is from Suzanne Zeman, somatic business coach and author of the book Listening to Bodies, A Somatic Primer (http://www.somaticbusinesscoach.com/). Suzanne’s coaching practice combines traditional business coaching and somatic coaching. Somatic coaching is coaching that brings awareness to the body and how the body is responding (often unconsciously) and shaping our responses to our world.
What Suzanne taught me is to breathe and to become aware of my body’s length, width and depth, particularly its width. Focusing on width, Suzanne says, “you can experience confidence in your capacity to hold more commitments.” OMG that’s what I need—confidence that I can hold all my commitments!
So I tried breathing in the way she taught and focusing on my body and extending my width outward. I know this sounds weird, but it worked. I don’t know that I necessarily got more done, but I was much calmer and less overwhelmed, more able to see that I would get it all done eventually. That means I am doing a better job discerning what needs to be done, better at coming up with more creative short cuts, and more energized and cheerful when I have to work longer hours. In short, I’ve expanded my capacity to hold more commitments! I’ve been trying this for a few weeks now and am amazed at the difference it makes.
If you want to try it, here are her instructions (they are in her book):
“To open your width, bring your breath to the mid-torso level, feeling your ribs expand and relax and in inhale and exhale. Then extend your energy in the horizontal direction, by expanding energetically through the sides of your structure. You may want to open and lift your arms, as though holding a giant ball—this can help you open your energetic width to become a more open container for all that you’re holding. Let yourself open to this dimension when you feel overwhelmed, alone and despondent, or when you want to securely hold all the commitments you have made to the people you care about. Continue practicing opening the dimension of width, and note your responses to the following:
What do you experience as you ‘get wider’?
How do other people appear when you open this dimension?
How do you experience your capacity as you widen your structure?”
Isn’t this interesting? If it appeals to you, give it a try. The results are fascinating. (BTW: yesterday’s e-mail took less than 30 minutes total to process).
Plum Cluverius, PCC is an executive coach with over 30 years experience in leadership development. She lives and works in Richmond, Virginia.