By Nicole Merritt
I recently came across a LinkedIn post on mindfulness which was an article shared by the extremely talented, intelligent and inspiring Arianna Huffington. Set aside the fact that I have a completely platonic woman crush on this admirably successful yet humble woman, I am also equally intrigued by any information that can help me be a better me — hence, my immediate mental attraction to the article, titled “Tony Robbins Breaks Down the 10-Minute Exercise He Does Every Morning to Have More Energy.“
More energy? Hell yes, I need this!
I sure as heck need more energy because between balancing children, work and marriage, I am freakin’ drained. As I looked a little closer, I noticed Huffington’s intro teaser referenced the word “priming;” a staple notion of Robbins. And no ladies, he is not talking about what you put on your face pre-makeup application. What Robbins is talking about is the fact that he has spent 30 years practicing this so-called “priming,” which is rooted in yoga and mindfulness.
AGAIN, WITH MINDFULNESS? I MEAN C’MON…
Stop right there. Yoga again, really? Are we really talking about yoga and meditation and being “one” with ourselves again?
Well, I haven’t embellished too far (and frankly, don’t put a ton of stock) into yoga and meditation. And although I strive to be, the fact is that I am seemingly incapable of being one with myself. Like for real, I am never at “peace;” I’m always melting down about something, rushing to the next thing, or feeling guilty for having some balance for more than a minute at a time. Am I the only one that finds it hard and sadly discouraging that the rest of the world seems to be able to find and keep a level of even keel sanity and happiness while I am walking around like a basket case?
According to Robbins, “Whenever you want to make a change or improve something, the first place you want to prove it is in your mental, emotional state,” and “If you do something from a pissed off state, from an exhausted state, from a frustrated state, from a weak state, it won’t matter what you do. The thoughts are weak when you’re in a weak place. The actions are weak.”
Man, so does this means that I have been performing as a mom, as a wife, as an entrepreneur, and as a human in a sluggish and fragile state?
Of course, my first immediate reaction to this is defensive. How in the world, with how hard I work, could I be operating in weak mode instead of beast mode? But, I kind of get where Robbins in coming from and why Huffington thought this was such an important message to relay.
MAYBE HE’S ON TO SOMETHING
“But I don’t have time for this,” is something I can totally picture telling my husband. You know how Robbins responds to this kind of excuse — he claims that “If you don’t have 10 f—ing minutes for your life, you don’t have a life.” Well thanks for being so blunt, Mr. Robbins. Geez. But, no really — thanks for being so blunt, cause actually, well, you are right.
According to the article, published by the Business Insider, priming involves 4 steps:
STEP ONE: Breathing
Let’s delve into step one a bit — breathing. Okay, I do this — all day, every day; so, what of it? Well apparently, I am not breathing correctly.
According to the Business Insider, “Robbins created his own version of an ancient yoga technique called Kapalabhati Pranayama breathing” which involves “Sitting straight with your eyes closed,” inhaling “deeply through your nostrils while simultaneously lifting your arms in a shoulder press motion, and then exhale forcefully through your nostrils while bringing your arms back to your body, palms up.” Okay, I sure as heck don’t feel like I would do this in public, but after trying it in the privacy of my own room, it did feel pretty calming. According to the article, Robbins “does three sets of 30 with brief breaks in between” and he contends that the exercise should leave you “feeling energized.”
STEP TWO: Gratitude
Gratitude. Okay, now this is something that I could get into. I am really trying to focus lately on expressing more gratitude to and for my family. More often than not, I exude gratuitous behavior to strangers, acquaintances, and even friends but I struggle to always show it to my children and my husband. According to the article, Robbins believes that every morning each of us should try to “think of three things he’s grateful for, spending about a minute on each.”
Okay, that sounds easy, right? Well, not so much actually.
It is Robbins’ suggestion that the way to spend that minute on what you are grateful for is by experiencing the moment as if you’re actually reliving it. Instead of just thinking “I love my kids and I am grateful for them,” I should instead be thinking of a specific moment I can recall where I truly felt gratitude for them, recall why and how I felt it, and to bring that feeling back to the surface. Robbins contends that if I am grateful I can’t simultaneously be angry or fearful. This is important — if I start my day with frustration or fear, I am setting myself up for failure. By beginning my morning gratuitously, I am finding some positivity (either in the present moment or via a moment that has passed), and I am riding the coattails of that fulfilling emotion, allowing it to be my internal driver for the day.
STEP THREE: Connection
Oh, crap. You are expecting me to truly connect with others while feeling depleted and emotionally exhausted? Well actually no, and thank goodness for that. Robbins’ idea of “connection”, according to the Business Insider article, is “based on Buddhist meditation” and involves your mind and energy connecting with the outside world, not necessarily your body or words. In total truth, most of the time I am actually dying for adult conversation, but there are definitely those days and early mornings where I am completely content not making eye contact or speaking to anyone, even my spouse. According to Robbins, creating the connection he is encouraging involves doing this:
“Imagine a light flowing into the top of your head and then spreading into the rest of your body, strengthening and healing you. When it has flowed through your entire body, then visualize that energy flowing out from your body to the world around you. You can focus on loved ones, as well as total strangers who may be in your vicinity.”
Now although I am slightly weary of this exercise, I do notice a significant change in my interactions with my children when I come from a place of understanding and love; ultimately leaving them happier and better behaved which in turn makes mommy happier, and I would say better behaved as well. So, with this step I will choose to imagine a “light of positivity” flowing through my body and into my children’s bodies. When I think about this exercise giving me the power to help my children have better days and put them in a great headspace, there is no reason I shouldn’t partake in this exercise often.
STEP FOUR: Visualization
Step Four of priming involves “visualization of success,” and this one is easy for me to get behind. I am already a believer in if you visualize success in a certain endeavor you can almost “will it” to happen. Robbins shared with the Business Insider that you cannot merely “think about making it happen,” but you have to “see it as done.”
Sometimes you come across these articles that lead you to believe if you read them and implement some of the suggestions, they can change your life drastically — they will transform you into the perfect parent, have the perfect relationships, and make only perfect business decisions. While I usually scoff at contentions of that sort, when I take the time to truly delve into them and give the legitimate ones the credence they deserve, I can typically find something in each article that helps me become a better person, something that I always strive for — to keep changing and developing into a more balanced, optimistic, and well-rounded person and parent.
Nicole Merritt is a wife, mother of three and the Owner and Founder of jthreeNMe, an imperfectly authentic peek at real-life marriage, parenting, and self-improvement. jthreeNMe is raw, honest, empowering, inspiring, and entertaining; it’s like chicken soup for those that are exhausted, over-stressed and under-inebriated, yet still utterly happy. Nicole’s work has been featured by Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, BLUNTmoms, Everyday Family, Best Life Online, marriage.com and SheKnows.
Do you practice mindfulness? As a little exercise for you and your kids: when you’re feeling overwhelmed (or the kids are), encourage them to close their eyes, listen to the sound of your voice only, block out any distractions around them, ask them to breathe in with you to the count of 7, and exhale to the count of 11 (if that is too long, inhale to 5 and exhale to 7). Repeat this sequence 4-5 times. Then let them open their eyes and see if they a notice a change in their state. They can also go to the bathroom at school and do this quietly in a stall when feeling stressed.
Happy Motivation Mindful Monday!