Life at the Beach

My daily life is my “life at the beach.”  Vacations are enjoyable, but my daily life of work, time with my kids, time with my partner, and pursuing my interests is frankly more rewarding and thrilling than any vacation.

Yesterday I worked in the sun at the pool-side, spending time developing articles and moving cases toward settlement in between dips in the pool.  I felt joyful, peaceful, and powerful.  My partner studied Ayurveda and designed yoga routines next to me, then switched to preparing for the next day’s discovery meetings with several personal injury clients.  As the sun moved through the sky, we turned our pool-chairs to face the lake and continued learning, creating, and making money for clients.  Through the entire afternoon I stayed dialed in to joy, peace, and power.

beach

My experiences of joy, peace, and power were not caused by the pool or the sun or the lake or my beautiful partner.  Those states were not caused by learning or writing or settling cases.  I could have been anywhere and felt the same states of joy, peace, and power.

Those states were intentional choices made upon waking yesterday morning.  I felt joy because I chose to feel joy.  I felt peace because I chose to feel peace.  I felt powerful because I freaking chose to feel powerful.  And I chose those states because I determined that those particular states would serve me best in my unfolding day.

Just as I chose and choose similar states today.

Life’s a continual beach, and it is a continual beach because of a daily practice of envisioning, creating, and sustaining optimal life here and now.  Optimal life and experience is not caused by traveling somewhere else and doing something out of the ordinary.  Nor is it a reward somewhere out there or down the road at retirement (whatever that is).

Optimal life can be manifested every single day.  Optimal life flows from designing, choosing, and cultivating all the joy, excitement, compassion, and any other love-based states we want, and then envisioning outcomes and taking action each day in alignment with those states.

We don’t have to travel to beaches or go on cruises to find joy and excitement because joy and excitement and all other love-based emotions and states are immediately accessible to us here and now.  Power and love and ecstasy and happiness are always and already within us.  We just need to practice tuning ourselves in and working to cultivate and sustain those states.

When we live daily life in our optimal states, then every situation becomes transformed.  Anywhere becomes our mountain lake.  Or our walk in the forest.  Or voyage at sea.  Or life at the beach.

Four-Sided or Four-Part Breath

When working with clients in my legal practice and on State Design, one of the most effective foundation techniques I teach them to practice is the four-sided or four-part breath.  This breathing technique may be practiced while sitting or standing, and the benefit of proper practice is a settling of the mind and body.

I emphasize proper practice because I have seen plenty of people start breathing in some random, rapid, and shallow way and wonder why the four-sided breath technique is not working.  The reason is that they are not practicing the technique at all by randomly, rapidly, and shallowly breathing.  Obviously any technique cannot work if the technique isn’t being practiced correctly.

Proper practice also involves routine practice.  The four-sided breath improves in quality and effect over time.

Proper technique begins with placing the tongue on the roof of the mouth behind the teeth and touching the tongue to the palate.  The light pressure of your tongue at this spot stimulates the pituitary gland.

Sit in a chair or on the floor with a straight back or stand with a straight and neutral spine.  Relax the arms and shoulders, especially if using the technique while standing.  Gently draw your breath down into your lower abdomen, inhaling for 3-4 seconds.  Pause and hold for 2 seconds.

Exhale fully for 3-4 seconds, focusing on exhaling as completely as possible.  Don’t force the air out harshly, but do try to thoroughly empty the lungs, as the quality of your next inhale will ride on the quality of your exhale.

After the exhale, pause and hold for 1-2 seconds, then gently draw the breath back in to the low abdomen over 3-4 seconds and repeat the cycle.

If using the four-sided breath in the midst of a challenging situation or negative state, repeat the cycle for at least 4-5 rounds and allow the mind and body to settle.

I encourage clients to dedicate time to practice this technique for 10-20 minutes every day.  During practice, allow your thoughts to rise and fall as they will.  Acknowledge the thoughts and let them go, returning to the breath.  No matter what arises, positive or negative, simply note it and return to the breath.  Longer-term practice of the technique will help make the centering and calming effects practically automatic and readily accessible in any situation.

In my legal practice, I can use this technique during hearings and depositions and during intense negotiations and meetings.  At home, I can use the technique when the children are acting like hooligans.  At times when I find myself in a fear-based state like anger, I use the breath to shift into a chosen optimal state.

The four-sided breath allows me to stay centered and focused in and through any situation and creates the space necessary to intentionally choose my optimal states and responses.  In daily life, I use the four-sided breath to center myself, choose to embody a state of joy or power or compassion, and then reengage the situation before me.

I have seen clients use the technique to shift from anxious and fear-based states to joyful and love-based states in a matter of a few minutes.  I have seen clients shut down anxiety and shift to power and love after a few rounds of breathing.  The four-sided breath settles the mind and body and creates the space to choose your optimal state and engage life from that chosen state.  The key, as mentioned before, is proper practice.