Great leaders can withstand fire, and yet also know how and when to cool down in order to keep their equanimity.
In our last blog, Embrace the Heat, we talked about soaking in the sun and soaking in feedback in order to grow.
What’s next? Learn to take your temperature the mindful way, so you know when to stay in the heat and when to find shade.
Did you know, the lotus flower is a thermoregulator? It (along with only two other plants) can keep a consistent temperature even when the external temperature fluctuates significantly.
How? Through regulating its oxygen intake.
We as humans can do the same. We can regulate our breath (called pranayama in sanscrit) to stay cool even when situations heat up, or to heat up when we need a boost of energy.
Of course knowing how to use a breathing technique to stay calm and focused is one thing. Developing the self-awareness to know when to use which technique is also a skill.
When we have excess heat or fire we may feel cranky, agitated, defensive, or harsh. When we lack heat or fire we may feel lethargic and slow.
How do you take your inner temperature?
Through mindfulness. One of the reasons I believe meditation is such a useful business and life practice is it allows us to catch, and correct much more quickly, imbalances which arise, before we go to extremes.
Sometimes after meditation we have greater clarity about a key decision. Sometimes our emotions will calm or shift or soften. Sometimes this noticing, this mindfulness, means not responding; instead trusting the body, or situation, will find its way back to neutral.
Even the noticing and observing which happens through meditation changes our inner state. This is Heisenburg’s uncertainty principle -- we cannot know the position of an object and know its velocity simultaneously. Literally as we measure our position (current state or inner temperature), our velocity (the speed on our path) may change. We may slow down or speed up.
Develop a habit of “checking in” with yourself throughout your day. On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your level of frustration? When 7 or higher, try a cooling breath. On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s your level of lethargy? When 7 or higher, try an invigorating breath like strong inhales or one of the 25 easy tips from The Energized Executive.
Think about a car, or any high performance piece of machinery. Consistency is key. Operating within a set range is critical. Can you perform in the same precise range as a high-end espresso machine? Can you treat your body, breath and mind like your car, and make it reliable, quick and safe?
Yoga is the reduction of the fluctuations of the mind -- Sutra 1.2, adapted from Rev Jaganath Carrera
Isn’t your life’s performance, in business and beyond, dependent on this level of mastery, this degree of self-awareness?
I’ll be sharing more tools in the next blog on how to be disciplined, consistently, to stay in this peak performance zone. Check back in or sign up for our newsletter to get new content such as blogs, videos and special tools.
When do you feel most in the zone? When are you at your best? How do you know you’re in that state? I’d like to hear what this feels like for you! Please comment below, and I’ll share your story in future content with our leadership community.
Thank you & be well,