Miraculous Meditation

January 23, 2017

meditation suit

When I do these leadership programs, the participants always ask me,  what’s the one thing that I could do that would make the biggest difference?  I understand the question.  We are all busy.  We can’t do dozens of things.  We can’t commit to an hour in the gym, seven days a week.  We can’t go on a sabbatical for a month.  So what is that one thing that can make a huge difference?  It’s meditation. We strongly emphasize this in our courses.  In order to create well-being, in order to be productive, in order to tap into that higher power, we must have reflection time each day.  It doesn’t have to be long.  It can be as little as 10 minutes.  But it has to be consistent.  I probably average four to five days a week where I sit down and be quiet and not do any planning or worrying or problem solving.  Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, says that anyone who is trying to attain personal mastery should practice some form of meditation.

Studies have shown that meditation increases focus and changes physiology.  It reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, and increases DHEA, the “youth” hormone.  It relaxes you.  It increases problem solving.  It increases your energy levels.  Harvard Medical recently found that regular meditation actually changes the expression of genes and lengthens the telomeres.  Shortened telomeres indicate aging.  So it actually reverses the aging process.  So if it does all of these amazing thins, why doesn’t everyone do it?  For some it seems too “new age”.  For some, it seems cult like.  They think that it conflicts with their religious beliefs.  But think of it as just an exercise in concentration.  You can apply your own belief system to these techniques so that you are comfortable with it.

Here is a very simple meditation technique:

Take a deep breath in.  Breathe out and think the number one.  Breathe in again.  Breathe out again.  Think the number two.  Breathe in again.  Breathe out.  Think the number three.  Breathe in a fourth time.  Breathe out and think the number four.  Then start again at one.  Other thoughts will enter your mind.  Politely dismiss them and go back to breathing and counting.  Do this for around 5 to 10 minutes.  Set a timer if you need to.

You will no doubt find this hard at first.  But the more you do it, the more you will be able to focus.  Not only during the meditation, but in all areas of your life and work.  You will be more relaxed, more resilient to stress, and you will have more energy at the end of the day.


Things My Dog Taught Me: Continually Improve and Innovate

April 3, 2014

joss 5-2-05 005This is my 101st post.  Wow.  That’s a lot of blogging.

When our dog’s back hips started going, we were very concerned.  My wife’s father had MS, and he had a contraption called wally walkers.  It was a simple device, an elastic strap that went over his shoulders and clipped to the front of his shoes.  It gave him just enough lift to be able to lift his feet and walk on his own.

So we thought about how we could apply this to our dog, Joss.  We bought some dog shoes, took some old suspenders and hooked the suspenders to the front of her dog shoes.  It was miraculous!  Without these walkers, she dragged her back legs behind her.  With the suspenders hooked up, she walked just fine.  This enabled her to walk unassisted for months.

When there is a problem, it calls for innovation.  And innovation is about taking an idea or a concept in one area and apply it to another.

When Joss could no longer walk with her wally walkers, we had another problem.  Of course, Andrea’s dad ended up in a wheelchair.  So we looked into dog wheelchairs and found one.  Joss was just fine with this setup.  See the photo above.  She thrived in her wheelchair, took walks, ate, did her business, and loved her life.  From the time Joss developed hip problems to her death, we innovated and allowed her to have good quality of life until the end.  This was a span of around five years.  That’s five more years of enjoying our beloved pet because we chose to innovate instead of giving in.

So when you have a problem, there is always a solution.  It just takes a little thought and innovation.

What, Me Worry? by guest blogger, Dr. Andrea Robbins

August 22, 2013

worry 2How many of you are worriers?  Do you worry that your project will not get completed in time, or that you will not have enough money to put your kids thru college, or that a space ship will land on your roof and perform scientific experiments on your family?

Many people regard women as inherent worriers, and sometimes I wonder if childbirth does flip a “worry switch” in women. Women do tend to worry a lot about their children and frankly I suspect that they think it proves that they love their kids.  But I think men are also guilty of worrying. It’s just about different things. Men worry more about financial matters.

I dated a guy that worked in the evenings. This was prior to mobile phones. He always said that he’d call me on his way home, or to my house to pick me up for a date. He didn’t. Ever. And every time he didn’t call I worried that he was dead in a ditch. I called the hospitals to check the emergency rooms. I called the police departments to see there had been an accident. I just knew that if he didn’t call me, it was because he was dead in a ditch. Guess what? He wasn’t dead in a ditch. Ever.

I finally learned that he was inconsiderate; not dead in a ditch. I then decided that the odds were in my favor that he was not dead in a ditch because 100% of the time I worried that he was in a ditch, he wasn’t. So I chose to “bet the odds”.

How much have you worried about that never, ever happened?  Could you “bet the odds”?

Would you like a simple way to stop worrying? It is truly simple, yet not too easy.  Worry is a habit that can be broken.  Did you know that your brain can think only one conscious thought at a time?  It can coordinate your digestion with your heart and breathing rate, yet it can only think one conscious thought at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth. But that’s another blog.

So the secret to stop worrying is to replace worry thoughts with positive thought substitutes. So when you start to worry about whether you’ll have enough money to send your daughter to college, think instead about the time you taught her to ride a bike.  In the middle of the night when you know you hear aliens land on your roof, plan your anniversary dinner for your spouse. Replace worry thoughts with positive thought substitutes.

To find out how stressed you are, and to create positive change in your life go to change-you.com and begin the journey to a happier, worry free life.

Also get the app, Tao of Emotional Intelligence for inspirational thoughts to improve optimism and increase emotional intelligence.

Body Talk part 4 What is my body telling me? Or how do I know if I’m stressed? by guest blogger Dr. Andrea Robbins

June 18, 2013

headacheHeadaches are the first and most common sign of stress.  Stress tightens the muscles of the neck and back which in turn affects the flow of blood to the scalp and brain.   Did you know that the scalp is a muscle?  It is, and is connected to the muscles of the neck.  When they get too tight it literally pulls on the scalp muscles and causes pain.  How many of you checked have headaches once a week? Or twice a week? Or every day?   While many of you think that it is normal to get frequent headaches, I want you to realize that only a handful of headaches each year is considered normal.  It is however very common to get headaches.  But if we were to find a dozen or so people who had pneumonia, would you consider it normal?  Headaches are your body’s way of telling you that you are under stress. Taking pain relievers only makes it worse.

Pain in the neck or lower or mid back is the second most common sign of stress. When you feel tense do you rub your bicep? Or you forearm muscles? You don’t say “It must have been a tough day at the office, my bicep is killing me!”  Our larger back muscles are more susceptible to stress and tighten because of it. Think how many times you reach up to your shoulders and try to rub the tension out of them.

Fatigue is the next sign of stress.  This is also so common that it is considered normal. But it is common because so many people are living lives which are too stressful and too full that many people feel fatigued nearly every day.  Do you wake up feeling like you must drag yourself out of bed in the morning, or need a pick me up in the middle of the day, or feel like you can’t make it through the day without a nap? Do you spend part of every weekend “catching up on sleep”?

Next blog we’ll look at ways to mitigate stress. Meantime, a great article. 33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep  http://tinyurl.com/297fsme  

Body Talk part 3 Fight/Flight by guest blogger Dr. Andrea Robbins

June 11, 2013

jackhammer 2I like to teach people in ways that they will understand. Most of you have seen or worked on a construction site. You recognize the Bricklayer and The Jackhammer Operator.  The jackhammer operator is in the business of destruction. The bricklayer has the job of construction. Both of these processes are equally important.  If there is a hardscape and you must dig a foundation on which to erect a building, the  operator must perform his part before the bricklayer begins the construction of a new building.  Our bodies work in much the same way.  There is a balance in the destruction and breakdown of diseased, old or injured tissues before the way can be prepared for the construction of new and healthier cells and tissues.  The tissues and organs breakdown and repair themselves continually and in differing rates, so that in seven years you have all different tissues than you had before, however, some are already breaking down again and ready for repair.  That balance is controlled by your nervous system.bricklayer

Stress has a negative impact on the nervous system.  How many of you have heard the term fight or flight syndrome?  This describes our body’s ability to handle very stressful or life threatening situations.  Let me give you an example.  A caveman must go out to hunt a saber toothed tiger for meat for his family.  When he is confronted with the snarling, clawing tiger he must choose to fight or to flee. The first thing that happens is that adrenaline is released. In this instance, his body reacts by giving him extraordinary physical ability to handle an extraordinary situation.

Can you think of any example in your life?  Have you had to pull a drowning victim from a lake? Or grab your child from running in front of a car? What did you feel at the time? And what did you feel after the danger had passed?

So what does this have to do with our everyday lives?  I haven’t had to kill a tiger lately or go hungry. Have you?  But we face stressful situations frequently in our life that cause the same responses to a lesser degree.  It’s called adrenalin leak. The problem with it is twofold.  One problem is the amount of breakdown or destruction that occurs. It is not in balance with the construction of new cells. Secondly when adrenalin continually leaks, we may find that we have run out at a most inopportune time. Deep breathing is a great tool to get out of fight/flight syndrome. Stop what you are doing. Right now; or after you read the next sentence!  Take 10 deep breaths with your eyes closed. Do this every 2 hours. You’ll feel better!

Body Talk part 2; or Physics Like You Never Learned It In School by guest blogger Dr. Andrea Robbins

June 4, 2013

azaleasEntropy is the second law of thermodynamics. But don’t worry I won’t bore you with physics. I’ll teach it to you in an easy way. And make it applicable to you!! The Law of Entropy states that any system if left to itself will approach equilibrium or randomness.

Here’s what that really means. There was a large overgrown lot next door to a church in the inner city. People had dumped garbage, old bedsprings and rusty car parts in the lot over the years. The weeds had grown head high and had nearly covered the rusty junk. A recently retired churchgoer asked the pastor if he could take on the lot as a garden project. He worked diligently for a whole year removing the junk, pulling weeds and planting trees, flowers and bushes. Each season the garden bloomed with flowers and fruit. Even in winter the naked branches of the trees made silhouettes against the winter sky. One day the pastor came along and said to the gardener “look at what the Lord has done.” The gardener retorted back “don’t you remember how it looked when God had it by himself?”

Our bodies are a system.  The automobile example in the previous blog is a system.


So any system left ignored will NOT get better, stronger, prettier or more functional.  Aging is a function of entropy.  Stress related conditions are functions of entropy.

Have you ever heard that you get a whole new body every seven years?  It is partially true. It would be nicer if we could trade the old one in and get an entirely new one every seven years but that’s not how it works. The tissues and organs break down and repair themselves continually and at different rates, so that in seven years you have all different tissues than you had before, however, some are already breaking down again and ready for repair.

Your body talks to you when it is in need of repair. Its language is symptoms. Like the empty lot that had been ignored, your body will turn to chaos and work ineffectively. You must care for it diligently like the gardener, to have a body that is the masterpiece it was designed to be. Here’s a great video that explores ways to renew your body, mind and spirit.


Building Brent Darnell International: Brent Shares His Decade of Experience

February 13, 2013

What were YOU doing 10 years ago at this time? It may be hard to recall or even harder to realize that 10 years have passed so quickly. For business owner and emotional intelligence expert, Brent Darnell, this past decade has been a life changing journey toward pursuing a dream, learning the raw truths of growing a business from scratch and gaining a deeper appreciation for balance in all aspects of life. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Brent Darnell International, Brent candidly answers 10 critical questions about this memorable journey:

Give us the back story. Where did you work and what did you do before 2002?

Brent Darnell: I graduated from Georgia Tech with a Mechanical Engineering Degree and worked in the construction business for 20 years before starting my own leadership development firm. I was a program manager for a leadership development program for Skanska and loved the work so much I decided to go out on my own.

What exactly is Brent Darnell International – what do you do?

BD: We teach people skills to technical people and train them like athletes. We use emotional intelligence as a foundation for all of this training along with physical peak performance. My wife, Andrea Robbins takes care of the physical side of the program.

How were you inspired to create this business – What was your “Aha” moment?

BD: I saw a huge need in the industry. Most of these technically excellent people had trouble with the “people” side of the business. This was the missing piece for them. Over time, we added the physical component because we saw the tie in between the emotional and the physical. Also, I noticed that many of these folks were overweight and under a lot of stress. That ultimately affects performance as well.

What was the best piece of advice you were given when you first started this business?

BD: Business is all about relationships.

Was there ever a moment in your childhood or early on that you knew you might do something like this for a living?

BD: It’s strange, but it seems like I’ve used all of my experience and combined it into what I do now. I quit construction and became a full time actor and writer for three years. Those experiences have served me well. We use lots of improvisation for learning, and my experience as an actor helps me with training and facilitation, and my writing experience has helped me with the books I have written.

(Want to try some improv with Brent? Click here for a special upcoming event!)

What has been one of your most rewarding moments?

BD: I don’t know how many times people have thanked me for their experience in these programs. One man told me that he is not only a better leader and a better superintendent, but he is a better husband and father. But being named one of the Top 25 Newsmakers by Engineering News Record for 2011 was the most rewarding moment.  They told us at the awards banquet that statistically, you are more likely to win an Oscar than a Top 25 Newsmaker Award.  I was so humbled by being a part of that.

(Click here to watch Brent’s acceptance speech for the ENR Newsmaker Award.)

What is a significant obstacle you had to overcome?

BD: My second year in business, the work totally dried up. I rested on my laurels after the first year and did nothing to create connections and relationships. It was a hard, but good lesson for me.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

BD: I think everything I did, including all of the mistakes, has helped to make the company what it is today. You have to go through those setbacks to learn—and without them—you don’t grow.

What is one piece of advice you wish you could tell all other new business owners?

BD: It’s all about relationships. And don’t give up on your dream!

Now with 10 years under your belt, where would you like to see Brent Darnell International in the next 10 years?

BD: My aim isn’t to grow. It’s to deliver great service to a limited number of clients. My wife, Andrea and I also want to keep an eye on our life balance. We don’t want to take on too much work. We want to continue to make a difference. We are looking at ways to deliver this work to more people through webinars, more books, and larger groups. Technology is allowing us to explore those options.

In just 10 years, Brent has built an impressive business while still maintaining the healthy work-life balance that he has helped so many others to reach. With this experience and wisdom, it’s safe to say that Brent has graduated from “new entrepreneur” to a seasoned business owner in his own right. Congratulations Brent! There are so many companies and individuals who also wish to offer you their sincere thanks for choosing the path you did and helping to change their lives! Here are just a few…

“I think we have saved a couple of valuable employees for the company, but more importantly their home and personal lives as well. Well done my friend.”
-Jon H.

“Thanks for helping me change my life.”
-Tom W.

“Thanks for helping me change my life.”
-Tom W.

Read more testimonials for Brent’s work here.