On a cold morning in November 2009, Cannon underwent more than 10 hours of surgery to remove six of the tumors. The last one couldn’t be removed because of its position in the brain, and doctors thought it might grow.
Empowered by his recovery, he embarked on a new career helping people become calmer at work and in their daily lives — and more productive at their jobs. In mid-2011, he opened a two-person consulting practice, Simple Truth, which coaches executives and offers corporate workshops that focus on the mind, the effects of stress and the benefits of meditation.
Later that year, Cannon published a book, The Simple Truth: Meditation for a Modern World (Walton Press, November 2011), based on his research and experience. He is planning a tour to promote the book and his ideas in California, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey and New York.
- Start meditating daily, even a little. Cannon concedes that trying to add meditation to a busy day can itself be stressful. So he recommends starting with just five or 10 minutes a day of "mindful meditation." This means sitting up straight, concentrating on your breathing (see below), and focusing on the present. After that, you may find you want to meditate longer, eventually building up to an hour or more.
- Identify your stress triggers. The next time you feel stress mounting, think about exactly what caused it. Focus on the emotions that were set off when that trigger was activated, then try to remember another time in your life when you had the same emotional response. The way an event affects you involves your past as well as the present, Cannon says. Use that insight to help separate a present event from past associations, and you’ll keep stress from escalating.
- Practice the 8-2-8 breathing method. If your heart starts to race, take deep breaths into your abdomen and pay close attention to the expanding and contracting of your belly. Feel it move against your clothing while you slowly count to eight on each inhale, let your breath settle for a count of two, and then exhale for another count of eight. Let your breath settle for a count of two before inhaling again, and repeat the process two more times. This will center you and help you regain your mental footing.
- Ground yourself. When you’re stressed, close your eyes and listen to the world around you: the hum of the lights, the sounds of nearby people and equipment. Embrace your environment, but be aware that you are separate from it. Relax in the knowledge that when you open your eyes, that environment will be there, but it will only affect you if you let it.
- Understand that stress is a part of life. Although everyone experiences stress, it doesn’t have to ruin your life. Instead of running from your problems, Cannon says, find ways to face your stressors and to calm yourself when they arise.