Embracing The Gray Zone: Thriving, Not Merely Surviving, During and After Divorce We're the Calm Beneath Your Storm

When someone enters your life and changes it for the better, you want everyone to know this person. Kelley Black, Founder of Balancing the Executive Life™, a Naam Yoga Therapist, and Executive/Life coach, did just that. She has helped me to create a sense of inner balance and reduce my stress in a high-stress career as a matrimonial lawyer. Not only has my chronic physical pains from TMJ, shoulder and neck pain, and headaches been almost entirely eradicated, but I am also a more efficient and effective lawyer and a better managing partner because of her methodology. My clients have even remarked that I am able to "cut right through it" and get their cases resolved quickly and efficiently, and most importantly, with compassion.

Through simple and easy meditation and breathing exercises, Kelley gives you the tools to change the inner workings of your mind to think more positively and compassionately, and reduce anxiety and stress. Since divorce is one of life's most stressful events, I want to share with you Kelley's wisdom of thriving, not merely surviving, during and after divorce.

Scuba divers in the cold and murky waters of New England occasionally confront what they call the "gray zone." Imagine you are in full scuba gear and jump from a dive boat off the Cape Cod Coast. You plan to descend to the ocean floor, 65 feet below. At about 30 feet, you notice that, when you look up toward the surface of the water you see nothing – except for the boats anchor line disappearing into the grayness. When you look down, you see nothing again, except for the anchor line disappearing into the grayness below. All around you, you see nothing but gray. Welcome to the gray zone.

Divorce is often a lot like the gray zone. You find your life turned upside down and you step into the unknown filled with risk, uncertainty and ambiguity. By raising the bar on your personal leadership and self-management skills you will be better able to tolerate and eventually thrive on the uncertainty. In fact, just as divers do, you will begin to see and experience the beautiful world of the depths of the sea.
Imagine what could be possible by experiencing divorce with less anger, stress, guilt and self-abuse. Stress causes poor breathing, which increases susceptibility to a breakdown of bodily systems, illness, and more. With simple breathing exercises and the science of sacred sound (mantra or NAAM), you can reset and balance the autonomous nervous system so that the rest/relaxation (parasympathetic) response becomes stronger. Finally, by understanding and harnessing the power in your hands through the application of mudras, you can access, stimulate and heal every part of the body and brain.

My methodology integrates best practices from Executive/Life Coaching and Naam Yoga Therapies to help you gain clarity, forgive past wrongs, make amends, learn from any perceived failures, and bounce back even when things don't always work out the way you wanted them to.

Executives that I work with are using Naam Yoga self-management techniques to be better leaders and to achieve peak performance without burning out at companies as diverse as VNSNY, Microsoft, Booz Allen Hamilton, WICT, NBCU, and many small emerging companies. By controlling your breathing through simple and easy meditative exercises that take no more than 15 minutes, you will find that you can embrace the "gray zone," reduce stress and gracefully move into your next life's chapter.

The "hard" part is actually sitting down and doing these exercises on a regular basis. In our busy world, we often do not allow ourselves to disconnect from the screens (whether TV, Blackberry, i-pad, computer, and the like), the "to do" lists, and the constant frenzy of our work and home life. For a person who begins a meditative practice, it is often very hard to sit for even five minutes. But, for those of you who embrace that challenge, you will reap the benefits of a calm and focused mind.

Below are my top three meditative exercises for a person going through a divorce:

Exercise 1: Stress Reduction Breathing

woman in white shirt, sitting with her fingertips lightly pressed together

Using this hand symbol – Tatwa Mudra - will maximize the benefits of the breathing exercises.

Are you are feeling anxious, reactive and unfocused? If you answer "yes," do the following exercise to regain equilibrium. It is effective in as little as three repetitions.

When you breathe in, count to four slowly, and breathe in 2 counts through your stomach and 2 counts up through your chest. When you breathe out, also count to four slowly, and again focus on moving the breath through your chest and then your stomach. Sit comfortably on a chair or sit Indian style on the floor for this and the other exercises. Place your fingertips together as shown in the photo.

  • Inhale through your nose in 4 counts /exhale through your nose in 4 counts
  • Inhale through mouth in 4 counts /exhale through mouth in 4 counts
  • Inhale through nose in 4 counts /exhale through mouth in 4 counts
  • Inhale through mouth in 4 counts /exhale through nose in 4 counts

Repeat this cycle of inhale/exhale. I challenge my clients to do this pattern for three minutes, by setting an egg timer. Once they have mastered three minutes after two weeks or so, I then challenge them to do this exercise for five minutes.

Exercise 2: Anger Reduction Breathing
Negative emotions such as anger and fear are detrimental to our well-being including our physical/mental health. Anger compromises the immune system and often causes us to say and do things we may regret later.

When you feel anger rising — cool yourself down with a yoga breathing method called Sitali pranayama. Simply inhale through your mouth (and if you can, with a curled tongue) as slowly as you can, then exhale through your nose (tucking your tongue back into your mouth) as slowly as you can. You will feel benefits after three repetitions. Do this for up to 5 minutes, or until you feel cooled down. Sitali, which literally means to "cool" works like an air conditioner on an overheated system — reducing anger, reducing toxic heat in the body, boosting the immune system and facilitating receptivity and enhancing communication — all by taking a person out of defense mode. When done correctly, this breathing exercise can help transmute anger into its antithesis — creativity.

Exercise 3: Harmonize Your Speech
Doing the Light Poem causes you to feel compassion for yourself and your ex-spouse, and reduce anger and hostility, while helping you to slow the breath down. You should read this prayer as slowly as possible. First say the prayer using "me," then say it again using the name of your ex-spouse. When you change the way you feel about your ex by saying this prayer, you will find that your ex will respond by changing his/her negative feelings about you.

Light before me
Light behind me
Light at my left
Light at my right
Light above me
Light beneath me
Light unto me,

Light in the eyes of those who see me
Light in the ears of those who listen to me
Light in the hearts of those who think of me
Light in the hearts of those who speak of me

Light restore me to health
Light be always in my heart
Light be within me
Light establish me forever
Light be around me and preserve me
Light be before me and lead me
Light be within me and give me life
Light be near me and rule me
Light be beneath me and fortify me

I love the Light in those whom I may have offended, knowingly or unknowingly,
May the light be with them
So be it
So it is
It is done

Read Inspiring Stories of People Overcoming Challenges, Including Divorce

Do you want to carry the wisdom and inspiration of 20 strong and insightful people with you each and every day? If the answer is yes, consider purchasing a copy of Women on Fire: 20 Inspiring Women Share Their Life Secrets (and Save You Years of Struggle!). Each woman, including me, shares the details of a seemingly insurmountable obstacle and describes how she summoned the strength to overcome it and emerge stronger, healthier, happier, and more deeply fulfilled. The most important part of their message is that you can do the same!

Reading these inspiring stories, you will discover how you, too, can turn life's greatest challenges into your greatest opportunity.

Kelley Black

Kelley Black is the Founder of Balancing the Executive LifeTM, a Naam Yoga Therapist, Executive and Life Coach. She integrates universal principles with proven business practices to raise the bar on personal effectiveness and eliminate stress, and help people thrive, not merely survive.

For more information and to schedule a complimentary consultation, contact:

Kelley Black
Balancing the Executive LifeTM
Naam Coaching/Consulting
cell: 917-586-5554

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