Eric Lee, local stress relief coach at Inner Peace Today and author of 29 degrees: How To Live A Life of Inner Peace, Joy And Purpose Regardless Of Circumstances, lives for the joy of sitting with someone when they find their ‘aha’ moment.
He said, "it's just a joy for me to sit with someone and see them light up or have an 'aha' moment when they can identify an obstacle or something they're doing that holds them back or another way of doing things that is more effective for them."
One way Lee incorporates this into his coaching sessions is by teaching people how to interrupt their negative thinking patterns, acknowledging that he, too, has faced challenges with those patterns.
"I'm relatable with clients because I have had negative thought patterns myself that drove me for years. And I still have some. I'm sure none of us are totally clean. But I have learned to identify them and replace them with thoughts that are more helpful to me and more true." He said, "because a lot of times when I ask somebody, 'okay, where's that coming from? Or what is that thought?’ And they start to tell me about how they really feel, and a thought pattern comes up like, 'Okay, well, I'll never have a good job because my parents didn't have good jobs.' Well, we can look around and look at examples of 15 people probably like that, whose parents didn't have good jobs, and they are CEOs of corporations. So is it actually true that you can't get a good job because your past background says you can't?"
One of his clients, Kristen Baltrum, and his daughter, Erica Lee, a restorative justice practitioner, both see that reflected in their relationships with him. Baltrum said, "There's nothing I'd be afraid to share with him because he comes from so much experience in his own life."
Erica shared that her dad "is the wisdom-keeper of the family." She is proud of his vulnerability and that he shares his story and work throughout his life. Her dad has overcome quite a bit in his life, she said. He's battled addiction, something his mom struggled with as well. He's also gone through a contentious divorce, she added.
"I think it's very healing for family cycles when people do their inner work. There's a lot I don't have to do because he did that work. So I get a much higher starting point," Erica said.
She shared a section of her dad's book that she finds particularly meaningful.
"My dad writes a chapter in the book about death. The questions he asks are 'how do you want to be living? And, what do you want to say your life was about?' I think for some people, they hear those questions, and they know they need to relax more or savor life more. I think, for some people, it may be yes, and how do you want to lean in more; how do you want to be more active in things that truly matter?’ I think that all the practices my dad is putting in his book are guiding people to have more internal space so that they can make conscious choices to live on purpose..."
Eric gave some tips for finding inner peace throughout each day. First, make sure not to start the day in a rush. "Give yourself an extra 10 minutes to wake up. And if meditation is not your thing, sit there and plot out your day, he said, "and know where you're going."
The same holds for mid-day. "My second thing is to find a way to sneak away in the middle of the day, once you're caught back up with everything. (The part of the day when) the stress is starting to heap onto you, you build in, away from a lunch break, just a 10-minute time to go and sit in your car or sit in a private, quiet room,” he said. "Try to be quiet ... And when a thought comes into your mind, say, not right now, thought, just come back later, and I'll deal with you then. And focus on your breathing again, until you can clear your mind."
Lee was motivated to write 29 degrees: How To Live A Life Of Inner Peace, Joy And Purpose Regardless of Circumstances, to share his knowledge and some tools for finding inner peace with the world.
The name for the book came from a coaching session with a client who had all the material things going for him, a lovely house, a great job, etc. but found himself in a perpetual state of sadness. This interaction happened on a day where the temperature only reached 29 degrees. At that moment, it occurred to Lee that people could focus on it being 29 degrees outside, or they could make the best of it by enjoying the snow sports, lighting a fire in the fireplace or even drinking hot cocoa.
He began writing the book over the years, with 10 minutes, 30 minutes here and there, and though no one is happy about a pandemic, he found the good in that, too. "For 29 degrees, well, when I came up with that 29 degrees metaphor, at that moment, that day, I said, this is going to be a book one day ... But at that time, I wasn't ready to finish it," he said. "I'm not gonna take the blame or the credit for the COVID pandemic; however, when everything shut down, and I couldn't train, I couldn't work, I couldn't do anything, I dug in and said 'this is it.'”
For more information on Eric's story and his path toward Inner Peace, you can visit http://innerpeacetoday.com/. His book, from Dreamworld Press (2020), is available for purchase from Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/29-Degrees-Purpose-Regardless-Circumstances/dp/0970670125.