Oasis in the Overwhelm™
60 second strategies for balance
in a busy world
Oasis Strategies have helped people from all walks of life find balance and enjoyment. Try them for yourself.
You know how it goes. Something hits you wrong and you fly off the handle. Just like that.
Yesterday morning I was absorbed in to-do details yakking at me. I thought I was managing the clamor fairly well. But then one e-note, in the midst of a ton of others, grabbed me.
Can we change the time and place of our meeting today?
Normally a request like this wouldn’t throw me. But I had carefully choreographed this gathering to suit five people with incredibly busy schedules and who were coming in from various geographic regions.
Just like that, within a matter of seconds, my whole being changed: mind racing, heart pumping wildly, indigestion brewing, snappy responses crackling.
How quickly it can happen. And over the slightest thing.
I caught myself. Meltdown immanent. Time for an Emergency Three-Breath-Countdown.
Stop. Right now. Exhale. Let it go. Now inhale. Invite in fresh air. Do it again. Exhale. Really let it all sail out. Now bring in freshness. One more time. Exhale. Inhale. Ah, better.
After I cooled, I returned to emails with a clearer mind and a less stressed body. The fifth e-note pulled me in. My dear friend Kay had just returned from Asia and was shocked to find that her husband of 14 years was departing. “I am pouring out my heart to heartfelt women friends — the best remedy there is.” She included a link to a commercial from Thailand that she said made her think of us.
I decided to watch. It helped me remember that yes, sometimes you don’t even need 60 seconds.
In a few seconds, I can fly off the handle, or I can choose to do something tiny. It can make a huge difference for someone else. And for me.
Ever have one of those days when your mind traffic makes Atlanta Airport schedule look like child’s play?
According to an April 2014 list from Airports Council International, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is the busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic. But Atlanta may not be #1 for long. The report adds, “Beijing is catching up.”
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the busiest of us all?
Ay, ay, ay, that ever-present push to catch up and get ahead.
In my dad’s day, being busy was a medal of honor, a virtue, a sign that you were taking your work seriously. Current data shows that chronic busy-ness is often the fast route to heart attacks, scattered focus, increase in non-productive addictive habits, decreased motivation, and messed-up relationships, among other dire consequences.
When I find my coach clients — and myself — in that crazy-making pressure zone, it’s time to stop. Literally stop. And re-direct the internal mind traffic.
A simple 60-second Strategy can do it.
No need for brain surgery or a trip to the gym. No product to order. Just you and 60 seconds to do the Oasis Strategy I call 4-D, which stands for 4 Directions.
In the photo above, Del Martinez is anchoring my chair as I lead his 80 colleagues in a 4-D Speed Clean. They took the opportunity last Friday to do a Group 4-D to clear the clutter from their minds and give their bodies a stretch.
Here’s how you can begin the practice for yourself.
Set the Stage:
Unplug: whether it’s 3 AM, 10 AM, or 8 PM, turn off your cellphone. Get some distance from your iPad. Turn off TV, anything electronic.
If partners, kids, co-workers are around, let them know that you need private time. If useful, hang a Do Not Disturb sign on your door.
Loosen your belt or anything else that may constrict your breathing.
Stand. Exhale deeply. Make space for your spine and head to lengthen up easily towards the ceiling.
Let your arms hang down loosely. You don’t need to carry a thing. Feel your connection to the earth. Let your entire weight go to gravity.
Now that you are firmly planted, you are ready to do the actual 4-D.
That’s it. Take another breath or two to enjoy yourself.
Remove your Do Not Disturb sign.
You’re ready to go back into the next minute – with whatever attitude you choose.
Simple, yes? Too simple to make a difference? Try it.
You’ll be amazed at how this sixty-second tool will increase your effectiveness—and your sanity.
Be your own air traffic controller. Redirect your physiology, your fatigue level, your emotional outlook.
Give yourself an Oasis in the Overwhelm. What have you got to lose, besides stress and clutter? Click here now to destress.
Your mind will be squeaky clean.
This article, co-authored by Millie Grenough and Oasis Facilitator Karin Joy Whitley, appeared in www.Huffingtonpost.com on Tuesday, May 27.
Maybe it’s a phone call, an accident, or an unexpected diagnosis that stops us in our tracks.
Both of us, Millie and Karin, know that everyone experiences events that reach to our core and change the way we think, act and feel. All of a sudden we realize that from that minute forward, we will never be able to return to the way that things were before. Life happens!
We are interested not just in what happens to us, but rather in what we personally can do in 60 seconds, with whatever life pitches our way.
I must be as hard-headed as Arianna. Both Arianna and I were pretty hell-bent on doing as much as we could to make this world a better place. I guess we both needed drastic measures to help us change our deeply-grooved patterns. Arianna woke up in a pool of blood. I flew off my bicycle, had three concussions and a ruptured kidney.
After my near-death accident, I finally got it that unless I made some serious changes in my frantic pace, I wouldn’t be around to see a future with my children and grandchildren. Lying in my backyard hammock during my months of recuperation I created four simple (and free) 60-second strategies to help me live a saner life. I called them my Oasis in the Overwhelm. They worked for me. Since then, they have helped thousands of people in all walks of life: coaches, police officers, military and medical personnel, clergy, educators, hassled parents and challenged young ones.
When my mother, passed away at 83, they listed her death as “failure to thrive.” How ironic that phrase is! For the last ten years of my mom’s life she focused totally on how to survive, not on how to be alive. Watching her struggle day after day really woke me up. It’s clear that we have choices each day, each minute.
I dedicate my life now to inspire others to find energy, joy and passion within themselves, and to share that with those around them. I know that simple acts of kindness, changes in attitude or a humorous moment can make a huge difference, whether at work or at home. As a corporate trainer and coach, I see how 60 seconds can change the mood at a meeting or during a one-on-one conversation and create a positive mental shift.
From Millie and Karin:
In our future blogs, we will share these powerful 60-second strategies and will give you practical examples of how people are using them. As Arianna says in her latest book Thrive,
“There are scientifically proven ways we can live our lives differently — ways that will have an immediate and measurable impact on our health and happiness.”
We will fill you in on the latest neuroscience research that verifies why these simple Oasis Strategies can help you re-wire your own brain to greater health and happiness.
I, Millie, will post my experiences interacting with individuals in the military, education and medical sectors.
I, Karin, will share how I incorporate these techniques and other wellness initiatives in the corporate arena.
We would love to hear your stories, and respond to your questions. Please share. Thanks!
Twenty-five coaches from the New England Chapter of International Coach Federation played around with doing that last Monday at the Doubletree Hotel in Westborough, MA.
As they dove into the 60-second Strategies, skepticism melted into belief: “The 4-D put my mind and body into an entirely different place.” …“I felt my whole attitude shift when I did the Cue-2-Do.”… They got it. They also got that to really make it change their life, it’s about doing it, practicing it, helping form new habits, establishing fresh life grooves.
I enjoyed their questions: “Which of these strategies work best for a corporate client?”… “How would you introduce 1 Stone to a busy executive?” My examples helped: the VP engineer who used the 3-Breath-Countdown to tame his road rage and his anger control with staff; the CEO, who had already suffered two heart attacks, who began to carry his stone in his pocket to remind him to Chill with Mil. Just doing it makes the difference.
Enormous thanks to Stefanie Marisca, Anne Jolles, Brianne Krupshaw, Karen O’Donnell and all the other ICFNE coaches for their warm reception. I look forward to offering an Oasis Training in Massachusetts in the Autumn. Meantime, I send all of you strong vibes for continuing to do it.
I had the good fortune to spend face-to-face time with both these groups this month. On March 1 I was a guest presenter at the Annual Conference of NABLEO (National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers) in Rocky Hill, CT and had the chance to interact with inner-city police, women and men. Eleven days later I flew to Southeast Asia. After 36 hours and three different planes, I reached long-isolated Myanmar, the country of Aung San Suu Kyi, where I met with young grassroots health workers who are dealing with HIV-AIDS education, prevention, and treatment.
What do these opposite-side-of-the-world groups have in common? Lots!
Both have dear ones who suffer from ongoing violence and less than optimal health in their neighborhoods. Both face stark trauma on a daily basis. Both look for root causes to radically alter the reality of the cities and villages they live and work in. Both recognize their professions as missions. Both are greatly challenged to balance their passion for the good of others with their own well-being. Both are hungry for justice and for peace.
It was a tremendous privilege for me to be invited to enter both these worlds. I am not Black, nor a police officer, not Burmese, nor a grassroots health-care worker. How enter their worlds in a respectful way? I wrestled with that question long and hard.
Finally came up with: do my best to practice what I preach in my coaching, in my Oasis Training, in my day-to-day life: be present in each moment, meet each person exactly where she/he is, listen with my whole mind and body, receive the love that is present all around me – in each person, each place – share whatever I have that might be useful, and do what I can to bring out the best in each person, each place.
Gangbusters, it worked!
NABLEO and Myanmar gave me wisdom that continues to deepen. And I gave them the simple Oasis in the Overwhelm strategies which they dove into and made their own. Anthony, a New London police officer commented, “I learned how to relax/have a way to get more clarity.” Thapiang, one of my guides in Myanmar said, “I love that 4-D Dump… now I can dump whatever (he loved that word!) and make room to bring in good stuff.”
The photos will give you some idea of the joy that I experienced with both groups.
NABLEO Conference Banquet, L to R:
Millie Grenough, Mubarakah Ibrahim (an Oasis Graduate), her husband Shafiq Abdus-sabur, President of NABLEO & New Have Police Officer, two of their four children
Mywe Saung Beach on Bay of Bengal, Myanmar, L to R:
Gin Pi, Millie Grenough, Thapiang. Both gentlemen are from the state of Chin, close to the India/Myanmar border, and both play guitar proficiently. We shared many songs, in Chin, Burmese, and English. (They knew Tequila Sunrise in Burmese & English!)
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Oasis and Millie Grenough are the Premier Sponsors for the February meeting of International Coach Federation, CT Chapter, February 28, at the Courtyard Cromwell. Millie will highlight the power of Oasis Strategies, both for the integrity and effectiveness of coaches, as well as powerful strategies to share with their clients. Coaches will be invited to join the 2014 Oasis Elite Training Program which begins on April 4. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates receive 14 ICF CCEs and an Authorized Oasis Facilitator certificate. ICF Meeting open to all coaches and their guests. Info and to sign up click here.
The Greater New Haven Region of NASW has invited Millie to present her Oasis Strategies at the regional meeting on Feb 18 at Connecticut Mental Health Center, 34 Park Street, in New Haven. The meeting is open to professional and student social workers, and others in the mental health field. Info and to sign up: firstname.lastname@example.org or (203) 624-7530. 1.5 CECs available.
Solving Gun Violence and Racial Profiling Through Community Policing
Millie will join with Black Law Enforcement Officers from around the nation on March 1 to probe ways to stem gun violence in USA cities. The conference at the Sheraton Hartford South Hotel in Rocky Hill, CT is open to anyone involved in work in inner-city communities. Info and registration at www.NableoConference.com.
Health psychologist Kelly McGonigal packs a wallop in a 14-minute TED talk. She apologizes for years of making stress the “bad guy” and then offers solid research demonstrating how stress can be used to build resilience and greater health. As with the Oasis Strategies, it’s all in how we interact with stressful situations that makes the difference.
Oasis or overwhelm?
Dr. McGonigal’s talk reminded me of when I heard Dr. Shelley Taylor a few years back. Remember how we were taught that the basic normal response to threat or danger was fight or flight? Dr. Taylor found that this f-or-f theory was based almost entirely on studies that involved only male subjects. From Dr. Taylor’s work with females, humans and animals, she found that it was quite the opposite: the first response was not fight or flight; rather it was tend and befriend. She pointed out that we are hardwired to give and receive comfort and support in time of trouble: we do whatever is needed to preserve the species. The hormone oxytocin kicks in big time to make this happen.
I was delighted to hear Dr. McGonigal talk about oxytocin as a stress hormone that actually triggers our social instinct in times of challenge. As she says, we can view the stress signals not as foes, but as “This is my body helping me rise to this challenge…it’s the biology of courage…of resilience.”
Thanks to Coach Jackie Johnson, a colleague and Oasis Training Grad, for pointing me to Kelly’s talk. Look for the full talk on YouTube.