Slowing down allows us to review our work before finalizing in an effort to catch careless errors that might not have been made if we were in a rush. When I took the CPA test, slowing down and reviewing my work was crucial to my passing all 4 exams! Increased quality of work leads to increased fulfillment and sense of pride in one’s work.
I had the pleasure to interview Robert Eyler. Robert has been involved in health and fitness for over 16 years. He grew up in San Diego and attended college at the University of Redlands where he double-majored in Business and Accounting and minored in exercise science. Robert also played football for four years at the University of Redlands. Robert is a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance, which acknowledges the completion of a yoga teacher training with a Registered Yoga School (RYS). Robert is also a Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Fitness Nutrition Specialist and Behavior Change Specialist. He is credentialed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Furthermore, Robert is a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the State of California and has been a CPA for 5 years. Rob also leads a National Health and Wellness Initiative for the 5th largest accounting firm in the world. He sends weekly messages to the entire Firm, which encourage mindfulness, healthy living, exercise, nutrition, meditation and other daily practices that elevate the frequencies of all employees on a physical, emotional, and psychological level. He also coordinates monthly health and wellness lunch and learns and healthy eating choices for an office of 200+ individuals in Irvine, CA. Rob leads nationally broadcasted workshops on the importance of stress management, anxiety reduction, teamwork, and social interaction in the workplace. Rob also teaches yoga and has been flown across the Country to lead yoga and meditation classes at his Firm’s National trainings. Robert currently resides in Huntington Beach, California.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
Growing up, I was inherently drawn towards numbers. I counted anything and everything under the sun. I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) at a very young age (as well as Depression and Dyslexia). Rather than letting OCD consume me, I utilized & leveraged this perceived “disorder” to my benefit. I graduated college with a bachelor of science in both Business and Accounting (double major) and a minor in exercise science.
After climbing the corporate ladder for 5 years and relying on my addiction to Adderall and caffeine to get me there, I eventually experienced what many would call “a mental breakdown.” In the midst of crisis, I quit my job, packed my bags and traveled “the world” for 2 months. By slowing down and taking the time needed to get my head straight, I came to a profound realization: the height of our creativity and productivity is not generated through constant thinking (the mind), it is generated through silence. Through taking the time to slow down and gather our thoughts and ourselves.
Paradoxically, after taking 2 months off from generating any sort of income, I had made the most money I had ever made in 2018. By intently slowing down and being with my feelings and emotions rather than trying to mask them with drugs or caffeine, I was able to realign my true self with my true intentions. Rather than approaching clients, projects and people in general with a GET mentality, I learned to approach them with a GIVE mentality. I cultivated feelings of empathy, love, and compassion for others AND for myself. This elevated not only the quality of my work, but the relationships I developed with others as well.
With this, I rooted in my passion for helping others. My purpose on this earth is to spread love and joy to all beings and I utilize my expertise in finance, health and wellness to do so. For quite some time, I had no idea how I would ever merge finance and fitness/wellness. By slowing down, I am able to leverage my experience and connections in the business and finance world to develop the market required to thrive as a health and wellness professional! It wasn’t until the last 2 years when everything started coming together. And now, I wake up each day as if it were the weekend, with a smile on my face, passion in my heart, and love for all! I am grateful I GET to do what I do every.single.day.
According to a 2006 Pew Research Report report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?
Working in the world of Finance, every project is deadline driven. Clients want their deliverables yesterday! It is no wonder why the average person with no experience in mindfulness or meditation is entirely consumed with anxiety and stress on a daily basis in an attempt to meet impossible deadlines!
Tone at the top: One of the causes of individuals feel “rushed” is a poor Tone at the top. If our organizational leaders, the people we look up to, are stressed and are not mindful of their presence and the way they are perceived by others, they quite literally force-feed their subordinates the stress they are experiencing!
Inability to live in the Now: All suffering in this world (including the feeling of being rushed) is a result of one either living in the past or living in the future. As far as being rushed goes, this is a result of one’s inability to live in the Now and one’s tendency to fixate on future outcomes. No suffering has ever been generated by truly living in the here and now, in the present moment. It is only when we let our minds wander into the future that we experience the detrimental effects of “being rushed.” It is imperative that our world slows down. Our sanity depends on it!
Lack of planning: Many feel rushed because they are unorganized and lack skills pertaining to proper planning and organization. If one does not have a to-do list and solely relies on one’s mind to perform the day’s tasks, there is no doubt that one will experience cortisol baths multiple times per day! Our society has an obsession with busyness. Not productivity. Busyness. We are constantly moving. Constantly doing. This obsession with go, go go leaves us feeling mentally and physically drained. It only takes 15 minutes to write out a to-do list for tomorrow’s tasks, however many of us see these 15 minutes as wasted time that could have been better spent submerged in “busyness.” It is a tragedy that needs to be addressed!
Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?
Increased Stress Levels (Cortisol): Being rushed inherently increases stress, which subsequently harms one’s productivity, health and happiness. When we are stressed, our bodies release a toxic hormone called cortisol. A dramatic secretion of cortisol in the body can result in a weakened immune system, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, increased blood pressure, a shorter lifespan, moodiness, irritability, depression and general unhappiness! These side effects result in decreased productivity and poor health.
Increased stress levels can also result in decreased metabolism, meaning you burn fewer calories when stressed (or rushing) than you would in a more balanced, positive state of mind! This too, results in unwanted weight gain and poor health.
Increased Anxiety: When we are rushed, we often generate unwanted feelings of anxiety. Heightened anxiety levels have the power to diminish one’s productivity by rattling/scrambling one’s focus. It has been scientifically proven that unmanageable anxiety and stress is directly correlated with a shortened lifespan! Meaning — our aging process is directly correlated to the amount of time we are consumed by our very own negative thought patterns (about the past or the future). Simply put, an increase in anxiety and stress speeds up the body’s physical aging process.
Productivity: Being rushed also harm’s one’s productivity in that one is more susceptible to making careless mistakes as one rushes through an assignment in order to move onto the next one. This results in poor work output.
Happiness:Being rushed harms our happiness because we are not living in the present moment! When we are rushed, we are consumed by our thoughts of the future. In truth, the present moment is all we ever have. There is never a time when one’s life is not “in the moment.” As Eckhart Tolle so eloquently states: “emotions are the body’s reactions to thoughts.” Being rushed is rooted in damaging thought patterns, and these damaging thought patterns create damaging emotions (anxiety).
As Eckhart Tolle says, In order to overcome these feelings of being rushed, “we must be at least interested in what goes on inside of us as what happens outside. If we get the inside right, the outside will fall into place. Primary (most important) reality is within (inside), secondary reality without (outside).”
On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?
Increased Productivity: Slowing down allows us to review our work before finalizing in an effort to catch careless errors that might not have been made if we were in a rush. When I took the CPA test, slowing down and reviewing my work was crucial to my passing all 4 exams! Increased quality of work leads to increased fulfillment and sense of pride in one’s work.
Increased Joy and Happiness: When we slow down and learn to enjoy the “process” or the “journey”, rather than the “outcome” or “destination”, we experience immediate positive changes in our mood, presence, and overall happiness. The reason why so many of us rush is because we have bought in to the illusion that true happiness, success, achievement, and satisfaction is found in the completion of some future event, instead of the present moment. However, true happiness, success, achievement and satisfaction is found in the NOW. It is found in every inhale. It is found in every exhale. By slowing down and learning to enjoy the process, one can quite literally BE happiness. BE success. BE peace. BE love. Paradoxically, slowing down results in an increase to productivity and one’s overall sense of well-being!
Increased Quality of Relationships: By slowing down, we improve the quality of the relationships we have with others and ourselves. We learn to cultivate feelings of empathy for others. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another individual. However, when we are rushed, we tend to only focus on how WE feel. This lack of empathy typically leads to escalations of conflict, and feelings of isolation, bitterness, anxiety and high stress! The harder we push, the more likely we are to be met with resistance. Conversely, by slowing down, we learn to take deep breaths, relax, and listen to others. Slowing down allows us to actually listen and understand where our counterpart is coming from. By being able to “place ourselves in somebody else’s shoes,” we are better able to understand where that person is coming from and thus strengthen the relationship. As the saying goes, “God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.”
Heightened Creativity: Our best ideas do not come from thinking, doing, or moving. They come from silence. After climbing the corporate ladder for 5 years and relying on my addiction to Adderall and caffeine to get me there, I eventually experienced what many would call “a mental breakdown.” In the midst of crisis, I quit my job, packed my bags and traveled “the world” for 2 months. By slowing down and taking the time needed to get my head straight, I came to a profound realization: the height of our creativity and productivity is not generated through constant thinking (the mind), it is generated through silence.
Feelings of aliveness:By living in the now, every second of the day has the potential to be full of healthy energy, love, excitement and positivity!
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
Meditate: Meditation (silence) has been proven to enhance memory, creativity, and awareness! Additionally, it can boost individual performance, productivity, and leadership skills! The goal here is to accept our reality as it is: pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Whether we are soaring through the air or lying on the ground, meditation teaches us to be present with what is. Note that meditation does not fundamentally change who we are. If we are hardworking and ambitious, we will continue to be. Instead, what may change over time is the way we work and our relationship with our goals and ambitions. As our meditation/mindfulness practice builds, we develop new skills and capacities. We cultivate the skill of concentration so that we can focus more intently and increase productivity. We learn how to slip into a state of flow so we can access deeper sources of creativity. We become more calm and clear headed so that we can prioritize more effectively. We learn to let go of our fixation on end results, so we relax into our goals, take risks with greater ease, and enjoy the process.
Simply put, this practice has changed my life. I dedicate 20–30 minutes to meditation on a daily basis. In my opinion, meditation is most effective when we practice first thing in the morning, before we grab for our phones, enjoy the first cup of coffee, and open our computers to check e-mails. Meditation works best when the mind is calm and the moment immediately upon waking up is typically the most calm our minds are each day. This can also be an effective practice when implemented during stressful times throughout the day. The moments when we do NOT want to sit for a 10-minute session are the moments when we NEED to sit!
There have been times when I have been ultra-stressed with a problem at work that I simply could not figure out how to solve. When I decide to pause, take a step back, and meditate. I eventually come back to the problem at hand with a new, fresh, and creative perspective! Making time for silence throughout the day increases productivity and is the MOST EFFECTIVE tool that can be utilized for slowing down!
Recommendation: Download the Calm App from the App Store onto your mobile device. This App offers different programs (7 days of Calm, 7 days of Sleep, Breathe) that teach the basics of mindfulness.
Write out 5 goals you hope to achieve within the first few hours of waking up: This technique has been instrumental to my increased ability to slow down and get more done! Before going to bed, I slow down, take out a pen and a sticky note and I write down 5 goals I intend to crush within the first 2 hours of waking up. These goals can vary and don’t need to be specific. Feel free to write down the same or similar goals for 2 consecutive days, but try to switch them up. Examples of goals I write on a consistent basis include: “wake up at 4:30am. NO SNOOZE!”; “Journal 1+ page”; “meditate in the AM for 30 minutes”; “no coffee until 8am”; “no Adderall for the day.” By crushing a whopping 5 goals before you even step into the office, you are flooded with serotonin, dopamine, and a whole lot of self-confidence that propels you forward and contributes to you owning your day! It all starts with slowing down before bed, and taking 5 minutes to write out your goals!
Gratitude Journal: Immediately upon waking up, I resist the urge to grab for my phone, check e‐mails, scroll through Facebook, or check CNN alerts! Rather, I grab for a pen and paper and jot down 3 things I am grateful for! Examples of things I am grateful for include the clothes on my back, clean water, the gift of mobility and a roof over my head! The human brain thinks roughly 60,000 thoughts per day. Approximately 90% of these thoughts are Negative. The practice of gratitude quite literally re‐wires one’s brain by shifting perspective and allowing oneself to tap into the awesomeness that is interwoven within most situations, circumstances, and events. This contributes to increased productivity through improved mental health and happiness. Just 21 consecutive days of this gratitude practice will result in the development of this astonishingly transformational habit!
Bonus:My friends noticed a change in my demeanor within the first few weeks of committing to this practice. As a result, I created a Gratitude Group text message group where we all contribute 3 things we are grateful for immediately upon waking up! By slowing down and taking the time to work on ourselves, we fill our lives with an unspeakable amount of positivity and productivity!
Pause in between moments (3 deep breaths):I learned this through Sam Harris’ Waking Up course. Throughout the day, especially during transitional moments, I incorporate brief moments of mindfulness by taking 3 deep breaths. Situational examples include being in my car before I start the engine, getting up from my desk, before entering a meeting and deciding to leave my house. During these times, I pause, and take 3 deep breaths. I have learned to punctuate my life with these pauses, creating a crystal clear scene. During these pauses, I feel into my body. Feel my body standing or walking. Or reaching for a door handle. And in these moments, as I observe myself, paying attention the one who is seeing, waves of peace flood my body and I am better equipped for the next task at hand.
Daily Gratitude Notes/Texts:There are Super Powers to be had through the practice of gratitude. I set a reminder in my phone every day that goes off at 10am to send a daily gratitude note/text to somebody in my life. I keep it short, sweet, simple and to the point. Set a daily reminder in your phone to text or call somebody in your life and let that individual know why you are grateful for him/her. Keep it short, sweet, and heart felt. This individual could be a family member, friend, colleague, or even an adversary (BONUS POINTS). The awesome part about this practice is you will feel all blissed out from sending the message and simultaneously, the sweetness they receive from you “out of the blue” has the power to make their day! The magic about this practice is in its ability to take us out of our heads and transport us to the present moment. This helps us to slow down and enjoy the Here and Now! Note: While some of the responses I have received from this daily practice have been heart-warming and fulfilling, keep in in mind that these gratitude notes are for you and you only so, drop all expectations and pay no mind to the recipient’s response, or lack thereof. This purpose of this practice is to increase gratitude in your own life!
Morning Cocktail: I learned about the following practice from Aubrey Marcus’ book, Own the Day, Own your Life. I modified the recipe a bit as follows:Mix 24 oz. of water (room temp.) with 4 grams of sea salt and ¼ lemon squeezed. Spring water has the right balance of what you want (useful minerals). The small pinch of sea salt into the water helps reset the balance and the lemon adds refreshing nutrients to the cocktail to help optimize your water! Before bed, I slow down and prepare this for consumption immediately upon waking up. I liken this to the oil that starts your car. You lose over a pound of water overnight just from breathing and it doesn’t take much more than that to initiate the deleterious effects of dehydration. By drinking this immediately upon waking, we effectively hydrate our bodies. This helps to get the body going and functioning at peak performance. By taking 3 minutes out of your night to prepare for the next morning, you are setting yourself up for a more productive tomorrow!
How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?
I define mindfulness as being aware and conscious in the present moment. Mindfulness is also the ability to bring the mind back to the present when it wanders off. If we are aware and conscious in the present moment, there can be no suffering. Suffering is only caused by our tendency to obsess over the past or future.
Let me provide an example. Admittedly, I have historically struggled with Adderall. In fact, I have a craving for it right now. As I reach for the bottle to grab a pill and temporarily cure my anxiety, I pause in an attempt to create space between the emotion/feeling and the action. Rather than giving into the craving, I choose to pause and sit with these emotions, noticing everything that comes up. In the present moment, I am okay. I have learned that suffering occurs because I am projecting future pain or future feelings of discomfort if I do not take the pill. By effectively sitting with these emotions and doing nothing, I allow the feelings and emotions to arise and dissipate within minutes. It is the suppression of our emotions where much of our pain resides. It is not enough to simply notice when we are stuck in a feedback loop of negative emotions. It is imperative we allow ourselves the time needed to pause, self-reflect, and overcome!
Trust. Surrender. Release.
Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?
By incorporating the practices I have outlined above, one can successfully integrate mindfulness into their everyday life. To recap:
1. Create space between your thoughts and your actions. The space created has the power to change your life!
2. Pause. Make time for silence. Meditate! Whether for 3 minutes or 30 minutes, meditation will have a positive impact on one’s life!
3. Keep a gratitude journal and write down 3 things you are grateful for immediately upon waking up on a daily basis!
4. Send out daily gratitude notes
6. Read daily devotionals in the AM to help maintain a positive mindset throughout the day.
7. Perform random acts of kindness
8. Cultivate empathy for all beings by effectively stepping into your counterpart’s shoes.
9. SLOW DOWN!
Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?
Meditation: Our Company has a wellness room that employees can go in reenergize and be in silence. It is also equipped with a massage chair and books for leisurely reading. If your Company does not have Wellness room, when stress picks up during the day, go outside, go in your car, go somewhere quiet and mediate for how ever long you need!
Do not eat lunch at your desk: Get up, recruit others, and go outside or in the break room to eat lunch. Our stress is typically at its highest at our cubicle or in our office. We tend to associate where we work (our desk or cubicle) with stress. We must give our body the physical and psychological break it needs in order to reenergize and refocus on the day’s tasks. If we fail to step away for an hour and decide to eat lunch at our desk, we are not giving our body the break that it desires from stress.
Cut caffeine off 6 hours before bedtime: Our levels of cortisol are normally highest in the morning when we need to get things done and lowest in the evening as we unwind from a hard day’s work. However, when we increase caffeine intake towards the end of the day, we tend to produce an increased amount of this hormone. This increased production of cortisol can lead to further lack of sleep due to insomnia, headaches, heightened blood pressure and other sleep problems.
Get up, Stand Up: For every hour I sit, I get up and stretch or go to the bathroom for 4–5 minutes. I also participate in Standing Meetings! Standing is like walking: It increases energy, burns extra calories, tones muscles, improves posture, increases blood flow and ramps up metabolism!
Managing By Walking Around (MBWA): Rather than sending e-mails to clients and coworkers who are in the same room, I go over and talk to them! This increases the quality of relationships with others and interpersonal skills. I was first turned onto this by something I read about the UPS CEO. He does not call any of his employees; he walks over and talks to them. This also helps to increase physical activity during the day! When I first started, I only sent emails to clients, because I was too scared, timid, & lazy to go talk to them, and they hated this! So now, I get up and engage in human interaction!
Take a Beginner’s Mentality: I attempt to take a beginner’s mentality in everything I do. My tagline on Linked In says “Expert at Nothing.” A beginner, not knowing much of anything about the subject at hand and forced to make decisions, may look at many possibilities. An expert, given a certain circumstance, will have thoughts pouring down a funnel of experience and/or education framing his or her thoughts. By developing a beginner’s mentality, one is able to learn much more and progress further than if one already assumes one knows everything.
6 Deep Breaths (Mindfulness Study): Most of the time we are engaged in shallow chest breathing, otherwise known as ‘stress breathing‘ rather than the deeper belly breathing which is how our bodies need us to breathe. Anxiety and anger tend to make breathing rapid and shallow, while breathing is likely to become slow and deep when people feel relaxed. By controlling your breath, you can control how you handle your emotions! They say, “take a breath.” It’s not a breath. It’s six. Six is the amount that it requires to get that physiological response.
A Japanese study looked specifically at the connection between deep breathing and blood pressure. The deep breathing technique consisted of the first study group taking 6 deep breaths in a 30-second period, while a second study group just rested for 30 seconds. With a sample of over 20,000 participants, the results clearly indicated that the systolic BP readings of the first group dropped by an average of 10 mm/Hg — thereby indicating the positive effects of using deep breathing to lower blood pressure!
Directions: Sit up straight to allow your lungs to inflate and deflate without any hindrance. Place your hand over your belly button. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your hand rises as you fill your diaphragm with air for 4 seconds. Hold your breath for 4 seconds, then breathe out fully through your nose for 6 seconds and feel your belly as it deflates. Push ALL air out. Repeat 6 times. 84 seconds of slowing down will significantly improve the quality of your thoughts and emotions!
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices
Podcasts: Oprah (SuperSoul Conversations); Aubrey Marcus, Tim Ferris (The Tim Ferris Show); The Model Health Show
Books: The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle); The Untethered Soul (Michael Singer); The Power of Kindness (Piero Gerrucci); Own the Day, Own Your Life (Aubrey Marcus); Mastery (Robert Greene); Buddha’s Brain (Rick Hanson); The Happiness Advantage (Shawn Achor); The Power of Habit (Charles Duhigg); A New Earth (Eckhart Tolle); A Complaint Free World (Will Bowen)
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Life is a Journey, not a Destination”: A mentor imparted this wisdom to me at a young age.My whole life, I have always been working towards something. Whether it was working through past trauma, healing open wounds, working towards a promotion, or working on bettering myself through a proper diet or more exercise; it has always been something! I (as well as many others) have an inherent need to master my surroundings, to improve my life, and to achieve pure, intentional happiness.
This quote reminds me how crucial it is to not rush the process. Bumps in the road to achieving our goals will inevitably spring up during our journey. A seed planted today will not sprout a towering tree by tomorrow. Though it might feel that nothing is happening at first, a seed must grow roots down into the earth before it can pierce through the surface of the soil. As we walk our walk and follow our path, we will inescapably encounter ups and downs; blessings and hindrances; gifts and challenges; trials and tribulations. Like any art form or skill set, we grow stronger over time. As we move forward, we cultivate deeper awareness and patience. I remind myself on the daily that every tiny step is part of the process! Every small and dedicated act nudges me forward. As my mentor told me many years ago, “life is a journey, not a destination”. So, enjoy the ride!
I will end on this, a quote from Yung Pueblo: “I am not fully healed. I am not fully wise. I am still on my way. What matters is that I am moving forward.”
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I encourage everybody to love themselves wholly and fully. We cannot expect to change the world until we change ourselves. To be of service, we must be fit for service. Before taking off on an airplane, in case of an emergency, the flight crew requests everybody to secure their own oxygen masks before helping the individual next to them. Life requires this same thought process. I cannot help to fill another’s cup if mine is completely empty. In order to spread love, we must first BE love. This is why I believe in being the most kind, nicest, compassionate and empathetic person I can be. By living up to my fullest potential and becoming the best person I can be, I coincidentally initiate a subtle yet profound movement. I do not possess any grandiose ambitions to change or manipulate the entire world. My message is one of love and like attracts like. If we come to the table with an abundant heart, we have the power to spread love across the entire planet!
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!