Breathing through the thrumming.

As individuals, friends, family members, co-workers, and leaders, each decision we make right now feels tense, filled with landmines of unanticipated consequences. Our chests feel tight, our bodies wound. The low hum of modern stress is now pulsing feverishly but still with the unsettling difficulty of directly naming and confronting it.

“Breathe, smile, and go slowly” –Thich Naht Hanh

It feels right now like it would be irresponsible to take a breath, smile, and slow down. Work is precarious. Others depend on us. Our household, organization, and community needs us driving forward.

“Breathe, smile, and go slowly” –Thich Naht Hanh

To slow down is to overlook a piece of important news, to miss an important deadline, to fail to protect our organization, our staff, our niche from the devastation that the pandemic and the economic fall out are causing.

“Breathe, smile, and go slowly” –Thich Naht Hanh

Breathe in.

Breathe out. Feel the deep breath opening up our tight chests.

Smile. Feel that very moment, that flicker, of relief from the pulsing.

Go slowly. Pick one thing to focus on right now. On a hard day, that may be as simple as making sure everyone is safe, fed,and has been heard. On a better day, we pick one priority on our to do list at a time to focus on. Set a timer. 20 minutes. Breathe, smile, re-assess.

As much as it may feel like we are taking precious time away from knowing what is unfolding in our quickly changing world, acting on our urgent to do lists, and planning for all contingencies…taking the time to breathe, smile, and slow down allows us to create the space for thoughtful decisions, for input from those around us, and for helping others bring their best selves to bear.

You’ve got this. It is precisely because of the uncertainty of this time, that we need all of the tools we can use to find our breath, our joy, and ourselves.