Three Deep Breaths

Finding Power and Purpose in a Stressed-Out World

Thomas Crum (Author)

Publication date: 01/01/2009

Bestseller over 25,000+ copies sold

Three Deep Breaths

•  By the author of the bestsellers The Magic of Conflict and Journey to Center
• Uses a story format to teach a simple and effective technique for achieving calm in the midst of chaos and transforming stress into positive energy


By the author of the bestsellers The Magic of Conflict and Journey to Center

Uses a story format to teach a simple and effective technique for achieving calm in the midst of chaos and transforming stress into positive energy

These days all of us lead hectic, stressful lives. And most of us react to difficult circumstances by struggling against them, which only creates more tension. Three Deep Breaths provides a welcome alternative--a simple technique that you can use, no matter how busy you are, to transform tough situations into positive, energizing experiences. It is a mind/body technique that combines the "cognitive-restructuring" capability of the brain (the ability to change our attitudes and perceptions of the world) with the calmness and presence of an aligned, centered state of being.

Thomas Crum illustrates this radically simple technique through the story of Angus, who is struggling to break through the negative habits that lead to anger, exhaustion, and poor performance. We follow Angus as he learns to use the Three Deep Breaths to maintain clarity and purpose in the midst of seeming chaos, to redirect negative energy to more positive purposes. By working with our breath, by being aware of it and using it as a focusing tool, we can open up a whole new world of possibility.

The quality of our lives depends not on whether or not we have conflicts but on how we respond to them. All it takes to change your life is Three Deep Breaths--which you can do in an instant, anywhere, at any time.

•  By the author of the bestsellers The Magic of Conflict and Journey to Center
• Uses a story format to teach a simple and effective technique for achieving calm in the midst of chaos and transforming stress into positive energy

Read more and meet author below

Read An Excerpt

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Overview

•  By the author of the bestsellers The Magic of Conflict and Journey to Center
• Uses a story format to teach a simple and effective technique for achieving calm in the midst of chaos and transforming stress into positive energy


By the author of the bestsellers The Magic of Conflict and Journey to Center

Uses a story format to teach a simple and effective technique for achieving calm in the midst of chaos and transforming stress into positive energy

These days all of us lead hectic, stressful lives. And most of us react to difficult circumstances by struggling against them, which only creates more tension. Three Deep Breaths provides a welcome alternative--a simple technique that you can use, no matter how busy you are, to transform tough situations into positive, energizing experiences. It is a mind/body technique that combines the "cognitive-restructuring" capability of the brain (the ability to change our attitudes and perceptions of the world) with the calmness and presence of an aligned, centered state of being.

Thomas Crum illustrates this radically simple technique through the story of Angus, who is struggling to break through the negative habits that lead to anger, exhaustion, and poor performance. We follow Angus as he learns to use the Three Deep Breaths to maintain clarity and purpose in the midst of seeming chaos, to redirect negative energy to more positive purposes. By working with our breath, by being aware of it and using it as a focusing tool, we can open up a whole new world of possibility.

The quality of our lives depends not on whether or not we have conflicts but on how we respond to them. All it takes to change your life is Three Deep Breaths--which you can do in an instant, anywhere, at any time.

•  By the author of the bestsellers The Magic of Conflict and Journey to Center
• Uses a story format to teach a simple and effective technique for achieving calm in the midst of chaos and transforming stress into positive energy

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Thomas Crum

Thomas Crum is an internationally known author, seminar leader and martial artist. He leads workshops and trainings for organizations and major corporations throughout the world, including former hot spots such as the Soviet Union, Northern Ireland, and South Africa. He had the fortune of co-leading a session in Indonesia with the Dalai Lama. Tom is the author of Journey to Center and The Magic of Conflict (both published by Simon and Schuster), as well as many audio and video products dealing with conflict, stress management and peak performance. He is a unique; experiential; keynote presenter, with engagements at many international conferences and associations including the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), the American Management Association, Franklin Covey, the Ken Blanchard Company, Systems Thinking in Action, National Speakers Bureau, and the Global Institute for Leadership Development. Tom is founder and president of Aiki Works, Inc. (also d.b.a. Thomas Crum Associates) through which he offers a wide variety of programs to support individuals and organizations – from keynote addresses to multi-day trainings. His Magic of Conflict program, designed to help turn conflict into successful relationships, has supported thousands of employees at all levels of management in corporations, government, and non-profit organizations.  His most recent contribution to the workplace is his Three Deep Breaths workshop, which focuses on turning stress into vitality, pressure into power, and busy-ness into Being. Tom's work is not only applicable to the workplace, but also to every aspect of our lives; such as relationships, family, and athletic performance. The Journey to Center workshop is a five-day intensive training held each fall in Colorado. It aims to help individuals and teams to deeply integrate the work into every aspect of their lives, especially relationships. And for those among us who like to ski or play golf, Tom hosts residential programs in his hometown of Aspen, Colorado, integrating his work with these outdoor sports. The Magic of Skiing workshops are held in conjunction with the Aspen Skiing Company each winter. In the summer, Tom hosts the Magic of Golf workshop, with his son, Dr. Eric Crum, former captain of Stanford University golf team and teammate of Tiger Woods. Tom has received the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) Vision Award for his role in the design and facilitation of training programs. A former systems analyst with a BS in Mathematics from Bucknell University, Tom was a teacher and director of the Aspen Community School, a humanistic charter school for grades K-8.  He co-founded the Aspen Academy of Martial and Healing Arts, and has taught meditation and the graceful martial art of Aikido, which optimizes the use of energy, focus, and balance, for over thirty years. With singer/song-writer John Denver, Tom co-founded the Windstar Project, an educational center dedicated to environmental sustainability and the peaceful resolution of conflict. He served as executive director of that foundation from 1979 to 1985. Tom and his wife Cathy live in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where they have raised three children. For more information on Thomas Crum Associates; programs and products, contact

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Table of Contents



Foreword by Mark Victor Hansen

Acknowledgments

Chapter 1: The Wrinkle

Chapter 2: The Lift

Chapter 3: The First Breath

Chapter 4: Centering

Chapter 5: A Master Teacher in Disguise

Chapter 6: The Second Breath

Chapter 7: Possibility

Chapter 8: The Third Breath

Chapter 9: The Mystery

Chapter 10:
The Journal

Chapter 11: Practice, Practice, Practice

Afterword
About the Author

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Excerpt

 Three Deep Breaths

9781605092911_0020_001

The Wrinkle

He probably never would have looked at his reflection at all, if it hadn’t been for something his daughter said. He would have done what he usually did—go downstairs, get on his computer, and wrestle with deadlines and dilemmas. But tonight, while he was tucking her into bed, Angus noticed Sierra looking at him intently.

“Why do you have that big line on your face, Daddy?”

“What big line?”

“This big line here,” she said, tracing with her finger a line on his brow that extended down between his eyes.

“I guess it’s from worrying too much,” was Angus’s truthful reply.

“What are you going to do?” his daughter persisted.

“I’m not sure.”

He kissed her good night and reached to turn off the light.

“When I’m not sure of something I just ask my teacher.”

“That’s a good idea, Sierra. Now, go to sleep,” he said, closing her bedroom door.

“And my teacher says the answers are always there, Daddy,” he heard her call out. “You just have to look for them.”

That was when he caught his reflection in the hallway mirror.

It answered back unflinchingly.

Behind that professional demeanor and that successful-looking suit, that crisply pressed shirt and silk tie, lurked something Angus didn’t like. Something unnerving, like driving a car with loose brakes. The headset from his cell phone was still dangling around his neck, keeping him connected, but connected to what? He focused in on his tired eyes and the wrinkles on his brow. So this was the result of all this striving for success. Angus put both hands on the little table under the mirror to get a closer look. Sure, he had a good job, a loving wife, a wonderful eight-year-old daughter, a nice home. Wasn’t he supposed to be happy? What was this miserable feeling and what was behind this sad and bewildered face?

The image didn’t look at all like the person he wanted to be. He saw right through the efficient business-suit exterior to the stressed-out, “no time available” man he had become.

What are you going to do about it? he thought. The mirror, Zen-like, reflected back only his confusion.

Angus’s cell phone rang, but for once he did not answer it.

Oh, I’m connected all right! PDA, cell phone, Internet, fax messages, 500 cable channels, the whole cyberspace nightmare! You would think if anybody had access to the answers it would be me. But I’m just like everybody else, walking around with a headset on, appearing to be mumbling to myself. It used to be if we were on the street talking to ourselves, we were considered crazy.

If only there were a delete button for dastardly days. Or maybe a do-over one. What was worse, this had been just a typical day for Angus. It had started with the alarm clock jack-hammering the billion neurons of his brain into consciousness. He had reached up in such a knee-jerk stupor that he knocked the clock off the table onto the hardwood floor, dividing it into two clocks, neither of them working. Alarm. That was the perfect start for Angus’s day—frenzied —like fire ants in his boxers.

Had he set the alarm for an hour earlier, he would still have sabotaged himself. Some people travel in the fast lane, some are stuck in the slow lane. Angus was stuck in the late lane. Even when he planned extra time, he would squander it away in the shower in a hypothetical debate, bullying one of his colleagues into accepting one of his ideas, until the hot water ran out. Then he would notice the time, and the panic would begin anew.

Angus had rushed through the kitchen and kissed his daughter with the early morning pleasantry, “Sierra, I’m going to make it to your soccer game this afternoon.” He went to kiss his wife, Carly, but his cell phone rang, so he answered it instead.

“Hello? Yeah, hello, Robert. Oh yeah? I figured that would happen. I’m surrounded by idiots, that’s what I think of it.”

Grabbing his coffee mug, he had rushed out the door with an affirmative grunt to his wife’s query, “Coffee for breakfast again?” Carly could only sigh, looking down at the eggs she was about to scramble and then helplessly at her daughter.

“Sierra, he’s just really busy these days. He’s got big challenges at work. Don’t be disappointed if he misses another game.” She managed a smile for her daughter, and then quickly looked back at her eggs, disguising her own frustration.

But of course, Angus had missed the importance of that moment. He was deeply lost in the oblivion of the preoccupied, roaring down the highway, talking in his annoyed business voice to Robert on his cell phone, jacked up on coffee and anxieties, acting like an NFL linebacker blitzing on third down.

“All right, Robert. We’ve got problems. I’ll be there soon.”

He slammed the cell phone shut.

“Don’t! Don’t you dare!” he screamed at the traffic light turning red. The longest red light in the city, and I have to get it.

He had taken another gulp of his java while simultaneously flicking on the radio and dialing his office assistant on his cell phone. Angus could multitask with the best of them, a skill essential to the chronically late.

“Hi, Kelly. If Sterner gets in for our meeting before I do, tell him I’m on my way. I’m stuck in a major traffic jam!” A lie, of course, but not from his perspective. Everything was always major.

“What’s that, Kelly? What does Harold want? A meeting tomorrow? Okay, okay, tell him I’ll be there. See if you can free up my schedule.”

Harold was his boss.

That’s when Angus had started to sweat. He loosened his tie and unbuttoned his collar. Isn’t this red light ever going to change? He could feel his heart pounding. Then he did that thing he always did under stress. He escalated. He took one worry (Why does the boss want to see me?) and created a catastrophic scenario around it (I’m over budget, I’m not meeting deadlines, I’ll get fired, Carly and Sierra will disown me, I’m going to die). He had perfected this apocalyptic spiral of despair: he was a world-class down-hiller on a slippery slope.

Angus had been eyeing Eddy, the homeless guy who worked the red-light traffic for loose change. This had always irritated Angus and today it downright killed him. He wanted to yell, “Hey, Eddy, how about lending me a buck? You’re even, and I’m down $18,000 in credit card debt!” But the light turned green, so Angus jumped on the horn instead.

The guy in the red truck in front of him made the obligatory gesture, which caused Angus, with a maniacal gleam, to accelerate around him, barely making the right-hand turn onto the freeway. He screeched to a halt behind the slow line queuing up for the freeway entrance. He had saved no time whatsoever, but to him, he had just sacked the quarterback.

But then came the guilt, the remorse, the worry: Somebody could have gotten hurt and it would have been my fault. Anger one minute, guilt the next.

He eventually wheeled into the packed company parking lot, smoldering as he looked for a space. He noticed one up front near his building, as well as a car approaching from the opposite direction with its blinker on. Another quick acceleration and Angus casually swerved into the space before the car could make the turn. It was rude, he knew, so he feigned innocence, although in the rear-view mirror he recognized the driver as an elderly woman who worked in his building.

At least it’s not a fellow employee. I’m late and I need the space. This is an emergency.

He grabbed his briefcase and ran to the building.

“Mornin’, Angus,” came the happy, singsong voice of Daisy, the groundskeeper, who had been watering some small fir trees.

Some days that woman annoys me. Actually, most days. Doesn’t she ever have a bad day?

He gave her a professional nod of recognition.

There is just no graceful landing possible from a horizontal position three feet off the ground. The garden hose that tripped him, combined with the speed at which he was moving, launched him skyward like a wounded condor, arms and briefcase flapping for balance. And losing. Prone on the sidewalk and cursing, Angus gathered himself up and hobbled into the building before Daisy, a big, lovable woman capable of carrying the perplexed Angus easily over one shoulder, could get there to help.

“Whoa! That was some flight, Angus! Are you still in one piece?”

Without looking back, Angus waved her off. Can this day get any worse?

It did. But there is no need to describe the rest of the misery that Angus created. More pulse-racing battles with time, anxiety rushes, and ego-related tailspins, real and imagined.

Angus had hoped that he could relax at home that evening, but all he saw were rush-hour stand-stills, a hundred e-mails, a disappointed daughter whose soccer game he had missed, and a detached wife who had had about enough of his unavailability.

And that was when his daughter had said, “The answers are always there, Daddy. You just have to look for them.”

Angus found in the mirror the worry wrinkle that Sierra had pointed out. He traced it with his finger as if to erase it, but it did not go away. In this moment, for the first time, Angus recognized the truth of his situation.

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Endorsements



"In Thomas Crum's wonderful story you may discover what you felt has been missing...until now."

—Dr. Spencer Johnson, author of the bestselling Who Moved My Cheese? and The Precious Present

"Three Deep Breaths is an incredibly unique and effective approach to dealing with stress--if used correctly, it could add years to your life."

—Stephen R. Covey, author of the bestselling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness

"Three Deep Breaths is a wonderful and caring story about the power of centering and good choices. You will find yourself learning, breathing, feeling, and healing."

—Charlie Eitel, Chairman and CEO, Simmons Bedding Company

"I read Three Deep Breaths in one evening--New Year's Eve! I could not put it down. The message is congruent, simple, and profoundly life changing. I personally felt the book was written for me, even after years of leadership and enlightenment study and practice."

—Greg Link, President and Co-Founder, CoveyLink Worldwide

"In today's world where there never seems to be enough time, Tom shows us that connecting to our purpose, achieving balance, and gaining power are only 'Three Deep Breaths' away."

—Jacqueline Catena, Vice President, Management and Organizational Development, Sony Pictures Entertainment

"I have spent my life in the mountains. Tom's powerful little book helps get me to the top of the highest mountain of all--my own life."

—Klaus Obermeyer, Founder, Sport Obermeyer, Ltd.

"Three Deep Breaths is a joyful and entertaining read that is of universal relevance to present day citizens on this planet. Global CEOs and entrepreneurs who face ever more intensive scrutiny and stressful choices will find the holistic tools learned therein particularly useful."

—J. Roberto Delgado, Chairman and Chief Executive, Transnational Diversified Group

"Master teacher Tom Crum has crafted another gem. You will enjoy the delightful story of Angus, but more importantly, you will learn as he learns, grow as he grows. Tom Crum finds a way to boil down sage advice to its core, bringing hope, laughter, wisdom, and common sense to your daily life."

—Lieutenant Colonel Hal Bidlack, PhD (retired)

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