Published monthly by Sharon Eakes, Hope Unlimited, LLC
FOCUS: Breathe
Disciplines: Personal Mastery, Systems Thinking

"I haven't breathed for ten days."
Wonda, New Orleans resident, ten days after Katrina

The English language is full of expressions related to our breathing:
I'm so busy I can't catch my breath!
The view is breathtaking!
Give me some breathing room!

Usually breathing is unconscious - we just do it. We only think about it when there's some problem - we catch a cold and our nose is stuffy, or we have a cough. My 90+ year-old mother uses oxygen to help her breathe well. That's increased my awareness of my own breathing.

Breathing is the ultimate systemic activity. With each inhalation the lungs fill and the heart rate increases to counteract the pressure of the lungs on it. With each exhalation we release, relax, and our heart rate slows down. Everything is affected by our breathing, our blood, our muscles, our energy, our mood. Conversely, circumstances inside and outside affect our breathing....when we are hurried, busy, cold, afraid or angry, our breathing becomes shallow. When we are relaxed and happy, laughing or singing, our breathing is slower, deeper.

If you carefully watch the flow of your breathing, you'll find still points in the midst of the constant change. These are right when you finish breathing in, before you begin to breathe out and at the bottom of the exhalation before the beginning of the next breath.

In their book, Living in Balance, Joel and Michelle Levey offer, "The greatest strategy there is for whenever you're feeling particularly frazzled, scattered, and out of balance is simply to return to the awareness of your breathing."


1. Become more conscious of your breathing. Several times a day, stop and notice how you're breathing. Take several deep breaths.
2. Find the still points in breathing - at the top of the in-breath and the bottom of the out-breath.
3. Mimic these very small moments in the rest of your life - stopping for at least a moment when you finish one activity, before begining the next.


Please join me for a 45-minute telegathering to explore the topic of conscious breathing further. Call Friday, October 14 noon Eastern (11:00 a.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. MT, 9:00 a.m. Pacific)
1-425-818-9401 X925 No need to register....just call at that time!

Also, if you haven't already signed up for the Systems Thinking in Action Conference this year, go to and check it out. The theme is compelling, "Embracing Interdependence," and it's in San Francisco, November 14-16. I'd love to see you there!
Reach me: 1-888-907-HOPE (4673)or e-mail I am a personal and executive coach. I love to hear readers' responses.

Each month FRESH VIEWS focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. Please forward it to friends and colleagues. My purpose in writing FRESH VIEWS is to nurture, prod and encourage readers to think and talk about these topics with their families, friends and colleagues. Mine is only one view. Multiple conversations may deliver us to insights only hinted at here. Such a process sustains the vitality of learning relationships, learning families, learning organizations and learning communities.

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