Intermittent Pauses. Plan pauses in your day to slowdown, reflect and integrate. Even if it means, taking a few intentional breaths. Often, taking these short, timed breaks give more momentum in a project and even, energy.
I had the pleasure to interview Neelam Tewar. Neelam is an entrepreneur and a two times TEDx speaker — she mentors experts, authors, consultants and coaches to help them amplify their income, influence and impact with story, strategy and spirituality. She travels the world to give talks on conscious entrepreneurship, evolved leadership, creativity and functional spirituality; and was recently invited to speak at a UNESCO World Heritage event. Neelam will be in South Korea, Japan, India, United States and Singapore to host talks/workshops with educational institutions and corporate houses in 2019.
Thank you so much for joining us, Neelam! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
Iworked for over a decade in the advertising business in New York City. It was clear about 4 years ago this wasn’t the right career path for me. I was unhappy and depressed, living a life that did not fulfil me because I knew I had more to contribute to others than I was settling for. I wanted to work for myself while I traveled the world; in June of 2016, I bid adieu to the advertising world, my life in NYC and moved to Austin where I wrote my first book of poetry. I was raised across four continents so wanderlust is second nature to me. I bought a one way ticket to India to explore the country and what followed is nothing short of magic, in that I now work out of Asia while serving my clients internationally.
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?
Women are maven multi-taskers and might take on a bit more than we need to. When we don’t set effective, strong personal boundaries on our time and what we will and will not do, we’ll find ourselves in situations that are less than ideal for our energy, productivity and health. I know women will often put more pressure on themselves to ensure they have taken care of everything/everyone that needs their time and attention, often to the detriment of their own self-care which is not a sustainable approach long term. Prioritizing, communicating and being honest with both ourselves and others can help alleviate the feeling of being rushed.
Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?
Gosh! It’s a terrible to feel we’re chasing time. When we are rushed, we can direct judgement our way i.e. something as simple as “I’m always late” can get programmed into our subconscious, and affect our sense of self. In the long run, it can affect our minds and slowly seep into our core beliefs about what we can do/are capable of doing which in turn can affect our self-worth and self-esteem. As a result, our mental health can suffer, so can our emotional, physical and spiritual well being. It’s important to take baby steps and learn to be kind to ourselves.
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?
Something I learnt along the way that has served me well in my entrepreneurial and creative life is the idea: “Slow down to speed up”. We’re living in an achievement, success driven world and it seems that the general rule of thumb is that one must be “busy” to be productive. It’s almost counter intuitive to try something different, taking in a few breaths and deliberately slowing down. I’ve found that in the responsibilities I juggle, overwhelm can set in if I don’t make an intentional decision to chalk out time in my day where I am doing absolutely nothing. This includes keeping the phone on another floor, or room and talking a short walk or hitting the gym. Or watering plants in the garden. Something simple that creates a pattern interrup in my day allows me to see the big picture of the work I am doing….and step into my day more powerfully with intention.
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?
1. Wake up without an alarm
Waking up to an alarm can be jarring. The only times I use one is when I am traveling. When we wake up to our body’s natural cycle, it feels peaceful and un-rushed. If you must keep an alarm, set the ring tone to something soothing like water or wind sounds. It will connect you to nature on the outside, and inwards before the demands of the day come at you.
2. eMail Detox
The first thing I used to do soon as I woke up was check e-mails. I now keep the phone either in another room or on airplane mode away from the bed. Stay away from digital devices at least 2 hours after you wake up. I find, I don’t feel rushed to respond to everyone and I go in about 2 times a day to reply to my messages.
3. Intermittent Pauses
Plan pauses in your day to slowdown, reflect and integrate. Even if it means, taking a few intentional breaths. Often, taking these short, timed breaks give more momentum in a project and even, energy.
4. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
I try to drink about 1.5 ltrs of water a day. It might seem like a little thing but being adequately hydrated keeps the brain in an optimal state, digestion in check and when the insides are nourished, balance is restored to the body.
5. Activate compassion
Our day is filled with tasks and things we must accomplish and we can put pressure on ourselves to complete our (often never-ending) to-do lists. It’s vital to not beat ourselves up and choose to be commpassionate toward ourselves. Be soft with yourself when you notice any harshness or negative self-talk coming through. Move on with loving kindness toward yourself, and you’ll notice you can direct this to others that cross your path as well.
I love guided meditations of all kinds. Pick an area you might be having a challenge with and listen to a guided meditation for about 15minutes a day. It’s centering and gives insights on what’s going on, on the inside so the outside doesn’t consume us or our energy. I have found that this place of integration comes the ability to make healthier choices with our time and priorities.
How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?
Being deliberate, compassionate and intentional in every thing I do whether it’s a small task or something that is substantial to either my business or personal goals. At any given time I am working at least two to four different timezones, and if I am not careful, it can eat away at my energy that my clients rely on me (my brains, and heart!) for. I ensure I plan my weeks well ahead of time and with both mindfulness monitor who I take on to support with their businesses. Mindfulness isn’t a strategy or a tool to use when you need it. It’s a way of being and life-long practice that lets you understand yourself better, so you can be in greater service to your path and people you are meant to serve.
Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?
It’s in the simple things really, how much can you slow down so you’re asking yourself the right questions about where you are in your life, your goals and whatever your (big) dream is. Being thoughtful and not being consumed with what that end result will “get you” (i.e. fame, fortune, recognition). Integrating mindfulness can keep you focused and help you connect with yourself, others in a deeper more meaningful way. The simplest approach I have found to integrate mindfullness is being intentional in everything you do. If you’re eating, remove distractions. If you are with your loved ones, keep the phone away. Stay in the moment as much as you can. Train the mind to work for you and not the other way around. The possibilities in the Now are limitless.
Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?
I keep binaural beats or soft chants playing in the background when I am at work; often if my work doesn’t require too much concentration, I’ll pick some affirmations tracks (from youtube or podcasts — there are some that go as long as 4hours!) and let them run. I love how it lifts the energy of the room and helps me approach all my tasks with love, peace and a giant smile.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices?
Anything by Pema Chodron and the Hay House publications, Wayne Dwyer podcasts are great to listen to on a loop. At the turn of the year, I went on a 10 day Vipassana retreat where you stay in silence for the time you’re there. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to deepen their understanding of mindfulness and meditation. This year I plan to go back again.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The Buddha said, “to understand everything is to forgive everything”. We all go through our shares of loss, failure and betrayals in this journey of life. When I first read this quote, I felt a peace take over me as I was grappling with failure i.e. being wrongfully fired from a job. I tried to make sense of it and somehow stumbled on this timeless wisdom. We must forgive easily, not just others but ourselves too. Take the lesson, and move on. Anything other than forgiveness is too heavy a burden to carry especially where you’re going next.
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. 🙂
We’re in this together. Now more than ever humanity needs to come together and love each other…and we need to be there for each other.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!