Corage: Breathing Space

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Space to slow down and breathing is important, especially in the frantic holiday season.

By Sally Eames

This morning I slept in. I did it because I could. Fridays are my catch-up day and because I admit I really don’t work well before 9am. So I’ve built a schedule that includes evenings for work but not early mornings. Most of the time.

I also slept in because I needed it. My life has been a blur of activity — I’ve been really busy — since the last week of September. And I’ve let my self-care fall by the wayside in many instances. Because there’s been so much going on business-wise, there’s not been a lot of time for grocery shopping, for visits to the healers I normally see weekly. There’s been no time on my beloved roof — though Chicago’s weather plays a large part in that — and no morning dreaming and thinking time like I reveled in all summer. Which, it turns out, is vital.

I have discovered that if I don’t deliberately make time, my psyche starts taking it anyway. I lie in bed thinking, still not ready to move, for extended periods of time because I need to be quiet and dreamy for some parts of my day if I’m going to be effective. I need to be rested and solitary, without rushing from obligation to obligation, from project to project. Don’t get me wrong, I am thoroughly enjoying all of the opportunities coming my way as a result of this activity. I’ve just also become aware of how important rest is in letting me face the world at my best, fully present and alive. I need rest to do my best coaching.

And I’m not an anomaly. I’ve talked with so many people lately who are becoming more aware that they need space for self, for rest, for rebuilding in their lives. One client of mine has put together a very busy calendar for this month, but made sure to build in a couple of hours a day to do whatever she wants. Another has discovered that as winter sets in, he is exhausted by mid-week, and so Wednesday nights are for staying home, being quiet and going to bed early.

Even big deal leaders are aware of the need for room to just be in their lives. The most effective CEOs plan time in their calendars to read, to think, to give their minds room to rest and work. We all operate at our best when we have opportunities in our lives to absorb, think, learn and be.

Breathing by ReadingFor those of us in the northern hemisphere, we’re getting the opportunity right now to observe that even nature takes time to regroup. Trees are bare, animals have migrated south or are hibernating; even though the modern world doesn’t slow down much the planet has created a time of darkness and sleep.

So I encourage you to make some time for yourself this month. Carve out space to rest, sit in silence, meditate, dream. Build moments into your days where you get to experience new information. Take a class, attend a lecture, attend a concert. Here in Chicago, there are all sorts of opportunities for free experiences. Curl up in a chair with a cup of tea and a favorite book. Or just go to bed early — or sleep in — one day a week. Give yourself breathing space.

And while I’m thinking about it, how are you breathing right this minute? As you inhale, how deeply into your body and your lungs does your breath go? If you focus on breathing from your belly, drawing air in from just below your navel and filling from there, what happens to your mood? Your mind? Your energy level? While you run the frenetic maze that is December, take a moment now and then to draw five deep breaths that you release easily. Give yourself a pause, an actual breathing space two to three times a day and see what happens.

What keeps you from quiet, solitary time?

What might happen if you sat in silence and listened to yourself?

What could you achieve if you gave yourself the gift of rest this month?

Sally Eames, CPCC, ACC operates Corage Coaching. She is a Certified Professional Co-Active coach and a graduate of the Coaches Training Institute. She is also an International Coach Federation Associate Certified Coach. For the full text of this column, please visit her blog. For more information on her work as a Co-active coach, please visit her site at

Justin Shimko

Justin Shimko is an award-winning writer and political analyst. He began as a reporter in his college days at the University of Oklahoma, writing for The Oklahoma Daily (rated as one of the best collegiate newspapers in the nation) and The Oklahoman, the statewide newspaper, winning awards from the CSPA and the Society of Professional Journalists. He later moved on to research and writing work for a number of political campaigns. His email is [email protected]

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