Do you approach life with a sense of urgency?

I am coming off a full fall speaking schedule, an eight-day trip to the east coast to visit family and colleges and a travel-induced cold. As I look at what needs to be done this week at work, I can feel my heart and mind start to speed up. But, even though I know there is a sense of timeliness around many of my projects, I refuse to manically dive in to work, plowing through my to-do list. Why? Because I’m aware that my state of being –and how I choose to “be” while getting things done– is everything.


Does the thought of slowing down and approaching life more mindfully make your heart race, as you look at the mountains of obligations, daily tasks, household chores and work duties before you?

Moving thoughtfully and with intention is easier said than done; it requires a radical paradigm shift for most of us. This mindfulness practice asks us to distinguish our inner life from our outward productivity and asks us to be willing to release old habits and ways of being (read more about living inside-out).

When I was thirty years old, I was an public relations director at a very stressful international job. I fit the persona of an overachiever, and I loved the strokes that came with work success; I was addicted to having a super busy mind, schedule and life. I was also exhausted and began to wonder if I could sustain this pace and level of constant mental gymnastics. Over time, my job, relationships and well-being began to suffer from my speeded-up life.

I began working with a great therapist named Frances. She coaches clients how to slow down on the inside so that you can actually be more effective and wise in all areas of your life. For a long time, I thought (somewhat smugly), “This will never work for me. She just doesn’t understand my world. How can I slow down and still get things done?” Successfully juggling and anticipating solutions for ten  different projects simultaneously was my hallmark! But slowly, as I took in her mantra, “Beware of a sense of urgency,” I integrated her coaching into my life and began to understand the connection between my inner state of being and how I see and respond to my outer world.

This revelation started to have a big impact on my daily experience: I lived more in the present, my anxiety decreased, and my mood improved in large part from creating more space between my thoughts and my reactions.

From stillness also came discernment: I began to see what really mattered to me, and my life purpose and path became clear. And, by slowing down, I actually became much wiser and more creative and effective at work.

My work with Frances during my early thirties led directly to my model for balanced living that I live by today. Learning to live more in the present moment, managing my energy and saying no, asking for and receiving help and practicing self-care have been life-changing skills (and this model is what I now teach at workshops around the globe). Living these practices over the past 18 years has had a profound and lasting impact on who I am.

In many ways, remembering to slow down and pause—especially when your plate is really full—is a best-kept secret. And, it’s the only way I know to navigate this crazy, 24/7, chaotic world we live in. Now, our challenge is to remember that we are constantly creating and relating from our current state of being. Who do you want to BE today?

  • Winter is an ideal time to reflect and re-assess  by taking a retreat. Join me Dec. 21 from 1-5:30 p.m. for a Winter Solstice Silent Meditation Retreat for men and women at McKinney Roughs Nature Preserve, Austin, TX learn more OR  Jan. 25-27 for New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health (Western MA) for a deeply restorative winter self-care retreat. Packages at Kripalu start at just $500; reserve your spot today learn more.
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Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/author/speaker Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women experience balance through the art/science of self-care, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum.  She is the author of three books on life balance and mindfulness including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 16-year-old son. More on her background here.

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