Stopping is the best antidote to stress. Stop to think, to look, to listen, and to reflect. Stop and have a helpful thought like, “I don’t need to tense my neck muscles so much while texting.” Stopping is the bedrock of the Alexander Technique. Stopping is also the basis of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. It’s easy to stop. But it’s hard to have the discipline to do it. If we are working under time pressure, the last thing in the world we want to do is stop.
That’s why I love “Two Feet, One Breath” – a mindfulness technique developed to help busy physicians deal with their stress. Doctors with no time for prolonged meditation sessions practiced pausing an instant before entering an exam room. In that pause, they simply felt both feet on the floor and took one conscious breath. The result of incorporating this tiny stop into their day was less anxiety, less depression and less burnout.
The Alexander Technique version “Two Feet One Breath” might include a constructive thought like, “Let my neck be free. Let my head float up. Let my spine lengthen…” But the genius of “Two Feet One Breath” is simplicity. Simply stopping, even without constructive thinking, puts the breaks on stress. And that’s important!