How People Learn to Become Resilient

Norman Garmezy, a developmental psychologist and clinician at the University of Minnesota, met thousands of children in his four decades of research. But one boy in particular stuck with him. He was nine years old, with an alcoholic mother and an absent father. Each day, he would arrive at school with the exact same sandwich: two slices of bread with nothing in between. At home, there was no other food available, and no one to make any. Even so, Garmezy would later recall, the boy wanted to make sure that “no one would feel pity for him and no one would know the ineptitude of his mother.” Each day, without fail, he would walk in with a smile on his face and a “bread sandwich” tucked into his bag.

The boy with the bread sandwich was part of a special group of children. He belonged to a cohort of kids—the first of many—whom Garmezy would go on to identify as succeeding, even excelling, despite incredibly difficult circumstances. These were the children who exhibited a trait Garmezy would later identify as “resilience.” (He is widely credited with being the first to study the concept in an experimental setting.) Over many years, Garmezy would visit schools across the country, focussing on those in economically depressed areas, and follow a standard protocol. He would set up meetings with the principal, along with a school social worker or nurse, and pose the same question: Were there any children whose backgrounds had initially raised red flags—kids who seemed likely to become problem kids—who had instead become, surprisingly, a source of pride? “What I was saying was, ‘Can you identify stressed children who are making it here in your school?’ ” Garmezy said, in a 1999 interview.“There would be a long pause after my inquiry before the answer came. If I had said, ‘Do you have kids in this school who seem to be troubled?,’ there wouldn’t have been a moment’s delay. But to be asked about children who were adaptive and good citizens in the school and making it even though they had come out of very disturbed backgrounds—that was a new sort of inquiry. That’s the way we began.”

Resilience presents a challenge for psychologists. Whether you can be said to have it or not largely depends not on any particular psychological test but on the way your life unfolds. If you are lucky enough to never experience any sort of adversity, we won’t know how resilient you are. It’s only when you’re faced with obstacles, stress, and other environmental threats that resilience, or the lack of it, emerges: Do you succumb or do you surmount?

Environmental threats can come in various guises. Some are the result of low socioeconomic status and challenging home conditions. (Those are the threats studied in Garmezy’s work.) Often, such threatsparents with psychological or other problems; exposure to violence or poor treatment; being a child of problematic divorce—are chronic. Other threats are acute: experiencing or witnessing a traumatic violent encounter, for example, or being in an accident. What matters is the intensity and the duration of the stressor. In the case of acute stressors, the intensity is usually high. The stress resulting from chronic adversity, Garmezy wrote, might be lower—but it “exerts repeated and cumulative impact on resources and adaptation and persists for many months and typically considerably longer.”

Prior to Garmezy’s work on resilience, most research on trauma and negative life events had a reverse focus. Instead of looking at areas of strength, it looked at areas of vulnerability, investigating the experiences that make people susceptible to poor life outcomes (or that lead kids to be “troubled,” as Garmezy put it). Garmezy’s work opened the door to the study of protective factors: the elements of an individual’s background or personality that could enable success despite the challenges they faced. Garmezy retired from research before reaching any definitive conclusions—his career was cut short by early-onset Alzheimer’s—but his students and followers were able to identify elements that fell into two groups: individual, psychological factors and external, environmental factors, or disposition on the one hand and luck on the other.

In 1989 a developmental psychologist named Emmy Werner published the results of a thirty-two-year longitudinal project. She had followed a group of six hundred and ninety-eight children, in Kauai, Hawaii, from before birth through their third decade of life. Along the way, she’d monitored them for any exposure to stress: maternal stress in utero, poverty, problems in the family, and so on. Two-thirds of the children came from backgrounds that were, essentially, stable, successful, and happy; the other third qualified as “at risk.” Like Garmezy, she soon discovered that not all of the at-risk children reacted to stress in the same way. Two-thirds of them “developed serious learning or behavior problems by the age of ten, or had delinquency records, mental health problems, or teen-age pregnancies by the age of eighteen.” But the remaining third developed into “competent, confident, and caring young adults.” They had attained academic, domestic, and social success—and they were always ready to capitalize on new opportunities that arose.

What was it that set the resilient children apart? Because the individuals in her sample had been followed and tested consistently for three decades, Werner had a trove of data at her disposal. She found that several elements predicted resilience. Some elements had to do with luck: a resilient child might have a strong bond with a supportive caregiver, parent, teacher, or other mentor-like figure. But another, quite large set of elements was psychological, and had to do with how the children responded to the environment. From a young age, resilient children tended to “meet the world on their own terms.” They were autonomous and independent, would seek out new experiences, and had a “positive social orientation.” “Though not especially gifted, these children used whatever skills they had effectively,” Werner wrote. Perhaps most importantly, the resilient children had what psychologists call an “internal locus of control”: they believed that they, and not their circumstances, affected their achievements. The resilient children saw themselves as the orchestrators of their own fates. In fact, on a scale that measured locus of control, they scored more than two standard deviations away from the standardization group.

Werner also discovered that resilience could change over time. Some resilient children were especially unlucky: they experienced multiple strong stressors at vulnerable points and their resilience evaporated. Resilience, she explained, is like a constant calculation: Which side of the equation weighs more, the resilience or the stressors? The stressors can become so intense that resilience is overwhelmed. Most people, in short, have a breaking point. On the flip side, some people who weren’t resilient when they were little somehow learned the skills of resilience. They were able to overcome adversity later in life and went on to flourish as much as those who’d been resilient the whole way through. This, of course, raises the question of how resilience might be learned.

George Bonanno is a clinical psychologist at Columbia University’s Teachers College; he heads the Loss, Trauma, and Emotion Lab and has been studying resilience for nearly twenty-five years. Garmezy, Werner, and others have shown that some people are far better than others at dealing with adversity; Bonanno has been trying to figure out where that variation might come from. Bonanno’s theory of resilience starts with an observation: all of us possess the same fundamental stress-response system, which has evolved over millions of years and which we share with other animals. The vast majority of people are pretty good at using that system to deal with stress. When it comes to resilience, the question is: Why do some people use the system so much more frequently or effectively than others?

One of the central elements of resilience, Bonanno has found, is perception: Do you conceptualize an event as traumatic, or as an opportunity to learn and grow? “Events are not traumatic until we experience them as traumatic,” Bonanno told me, in December. “To call something a ‘traumatic event’ belies that fact.” He has coined a different term: PTE, or potentially traumatic event, which he argues is more accurate. The theory is straightforward. Every frightening event, no matter how negative it might seem from the sidelines, has the potential to be traumatic or not to the person experiencing it. (Bonanno focusses on acute negative events, where we may be seriously harmed; others who study resilience, including Garmezy and Werner, look more broadly.) Take something as terrible as the surprising death of a close friend: you might be sad, but if you can find a way to construe that event as filled with meaning—perhaps it leads to greater awareness of a certain disease, say, or to closer ties with the communitythen it may not be seen as a trauma. (Indeed, Werner found that resilient individuals were far more likely to report having sources of spiritual and religious support than those who weren’t.) The experience isn’t inherent in the event; it resides in the event’s psychological construal.

It’s for this reason, Bonanno told me, that “stressful” or “traumatic” events in and of themselves don’t have much predictive power when it comes to life outcomes. “The prospective epidemiological data shows that exposure to potentially traumatic events does not predict later functioning,” he said. “It’s only predictive if there’s a negative response.” In other words, living through adversity, be it endemic to your environment or an acute negative event, doesn’t guarantee that you’ll suffer going forward. What matters is whether that adversity becomes traumatizing.

The good news is that positive construal can be taught. “We can make ourselves more or less vulnerable by how we think about things,” Bonanno said. In research at Columbia, the neuroscientist Kevin Ochsner has shown that teaching people to think of stimuli in different ways—to reframe them in positive terms when the initial response is negative, or in a less emotional way when the initial response is emotionally “hot”—changes how they experience and react to the stimulus. You can train people to better regulate their emotions, and the training seems to have lasting effects.

Similar work has been done with explanatory styles—the techniques we use to explain events. I’ve written before about the research of Martin Seligman, the University of Pennsylvania psychologist who pioneered much of the field of positive psychology: Seligman found that training people to change their explanatory styles from internal to external (“Bad events aren’t my fault”), from global to specific (“This is one narrow thing rather than a massive indication that something is wrong with my life”), and from permanent to impermanent (“I can change the situation, rather than assuming it’s fixed”) made them more psychologically successful and less prone to depression. The same goes for locus of control: not only is a more internal locus tied to perceiving less stress and performing better but changing your locus from external to internal leads to positive changes in both psychological well-being and objective work performance. The cognitive skills that underpin resilience, then, seem like they can indeed be learned over time, creating resilience where there was none.

Unfortunately, the opposite may also be true. “We can become less resilient, or less likely to be resilient,” Bonanno says. “We can create or exaggerate stressors very easily in our own minds. That’s the danger of the human condition.” Human beings are capable of worry and rumination: we can take a minor thing, blow it up in our heads, run through it over and over, and drive ourselves crazy until we feel like that minor thing is the biggest thing that ever happened. In a sense, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Frame adversity as a challenge, and you become more flexible and able to deal with it, move on, learn from it, and grow. Focus on it, frame it as a threat, and a potentially traumatic event becomes an enduring problem; you become more inflexible, and more likely to be negatively affected.

In December the New York Times Magazine published an essay called “The Profound Emptiness of ‘Resilience.’ ” It pointed out that the word is now used everywhere, often in ways that drain it of meaning and link it to vague concepts like “character.” But resilience doesn’t have to be an empty or vague concept. In fact, decades of research have revealed a lot about how it works. This research shows that resilience is, ultimately, a set of skills that can be taught. In recent years, we’ve taken to using the term sloppily—but our sloppy usage doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been usefully and precisely defined. It’s time we invest the time and energy to understand what “resilience” really means.

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Life ‘Unplugged’ – why technology is clouding our perception of beauty

Philosophers argue that beauty is essential to life itself, a value so dear to humans that it can overcome evils. But what if I told you that by going about your daily routines, you’re greatly diminishing your chance to harness the power of beauty?

What if by each email you send, app you download, and screen you touch, you’re making your life less beautiful?

“I’m realizing every day that sometimes the most beautiful things in life can’t be downloaded.”

Challenge yourself to find beauty in real life experiences beyond screens.

Challenge yourself to find beauty in real life experiences beyond screens.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ that it is completely unique to the individual. But what if we have it all wrong and beauty isn’t in the eye of the beholder?

“What if our perception of beauty is actually a response to natural selection – something pre-wired in our minds through centuries of Darwinian adaptations?”

In his TED talk entitled, ‘A Darwinian Theory of Beauty,’ Denis Dutton argues just that. After interviewing people all across the globe about their tastes in art, he found that perceptions of beauty transcend international borders. In almost every instance, people were drawn to images of natural landscapes over cityscapes, and generally preferred nature-themed paintings to any other subject.

Beautiful things transcend language and culture.

Beautiful things transcend language and culture.

“Consider briefly…the magnetic pull of beautiful landscapes. People in very different cultures all over the world tend to like a particular kind of landscape…that just happens to be similar to the savannas where we evolved. This landscape shows up today on calendars, on postcards, and in the design of golf courses and public parks.”

These pristine, ancient landscapes were considered most beautiful even by cultures who had never seen them before.

“Human beings everywhere find beauty in the natural – in the environments from which humans evolved.”

Find beauty in your own strength.

Find beauty in your own strength.

After listening to Dutton’s TED talk, I began to reflect on my own perceptions of beauty. As a city dweller, I rarely have the opportunity to spend time in beautiful natural landscapes – but as a Reebok employee, I do find myself reverting back to a more primal existence, one more closely linked to the humanity so highly revered by Dutton’s interviewees. At Reebok, we are encouraged to take an hour of our day to head to a boxing or Les Mills class, to yoga or to Reebok’s very own CrossFit Gym, RCF1, to do workouts grounded in functional movements using minimalistic equipment.

“Could it be that taking a step back from technology is the answer to bringing more beauty into our lives?”

I’ve certainly found that at the very least, this is true in my work outs. There’s something about jumping and running and sweating – picking up a barbell twice your weight, the sound of gloves against a heavy bag or your feet hitting the pavement, that awakens the same sense of beauty that I believe Dutton’s subjects felt from viewing these nature scenes.

“We think we need watches, and apps, fancy weight machines and treadmills, but all that these things really do is remove the natural, and thus the beautiful, from our workouts.”

Listen to your body and focus on your breath – no technology needed.

Listen to your body and focus on your breath – no technology needed.

By tracking every calorie, pacing around to hit our daily step goals and relying on a monitor to tell us when something is hard – we forget that our bodies, and what they can do, are amazing, beautiful, and natural.

And who’s to say that seeking the ‘natural’ should stop at our workouts? What about seeking out the honest and natural in the foods we eat? Research says that by eliminating added sugars in our diet, cravings subside and natural foods begin to taste sweet and delicious. And who decided that our work lives should be constantly ‘plugged in’? We’ve become conditioned to believe that shooting off an email to someone across a cube wall is normal.

“We’ve been overtaken by routine and overrun with choice – and it’s diminishing our human spirit.”

I’m not saying it’s necessary or realistic to go back to the pre-historic era, or ditch technology and innovation. That’s ridiculous. But maybe the key to finding beauty in our lives, and in the positive feelings it elicits, is a lot easier than we think… It’s in a face-to-face conversation, a wholesome meal, or even at the bottom of a push-up.

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Endless streams of creativity and…


#UnherdPro #Unherd #Promotions #Motivation #Toronto #Design #Creative #Typography #Blog

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6 Tips to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

By Jenna Birch


January is on the horizon, and it’s safe to assume a few goals for the coming year have at least flitted through your subconscious. Before you know it, the confetti will fall, the clock will strike midnight, you’ll raise a glass to 2015—and, suddenly, a fresh 12 months of promise will be ahead.

Ah, resolutions. Every year, well-meaning people want to get healthy, learn yoga, learn to meditate, bike more, hike more, eat more vegetables, eat less sugar—and, generally, those hopes and wishes die by February 1st. Why, exactly? Too many bite off more than they can chew. They’re not realistic. They’re easily discouraged. And they think of resolutions as once-a-year wishes, instead of creating a culture of positive change in their lives to last the entire year (and well beyond, too).

It’s time to reframe New Year’s resolutions by learning to set the right kind of goals and intentions—ones that spark positive steps toward the happy, healthy vision you have for your life. Here, experts spill how they coach their clients toward real change.

The Dietitian Says…

Make sure it’s specific

Keri Gans, RD, a dietitian and author of The Small Change Diet, says she typically has patients who start out the year with big resolutions that don’t last a week—and that’s just it. They’re too big. “It has to be specific and it has to be measurable,” says Gans. “If you want to eat healthier, you need to break it down: ‘I want to eat one piece of fruit everyday as dessert’ or ‘I want to eat a vegetable every night with dinner.’” She recommends recording your progress in a food log, so you can hold yourself accountable.

Make sure it’s realistic

Some resolutions aren’t feasible for every person. “Be honest with yourself,” says Gans. “Cooking dinner at home four nights a week shouldn’t be your goal if you are constantly traveling for work—you want to be able to realistically achieve your goal.” Since obtaining goals creates positive energy, it’ll fuel more success and keep you on track. If you are constantly over-reaching or not being honest with yourself about the type of goals that may work best for you, you’ll miss the mark and get down on yourself. So switch up that goal from nightly meals at home to daily salads at lunch—which you can grab while you’re out, or make yourself when there’s time.

The Personal Trainer Says…

Shine a positive light on your goals

“Doing your time” at the gym shouldn’t sound like a prison sentence. Try not to put such a negative spin on the positive developments in your life, like getting healthier or exercising. “It’s a mindset,” says personal trainer Jimmy Minardi, founder of Minardi Training. “I hear so much, ‘I need to burn the turkey,’ ‘food guilt,’ and so on—if you make negative promises to yourself, they won’t stick.” Walk into the gym knowing that 30 minutes there will lift your mood, not destroy your energy, and look for an activity you enjoy. “I love weight-bearing exercises, and getting outside as much as you can,” Minardi says. “Find fun. Join a class or a league, meet others having fun, and feed off their positive energy.”

Start with small goals, and then build

Let’s say you really want to try yoga, or maybe you’re interested in Crossfit or biking. Although you might be motivated and excited, slow down the train. Don’t commit yourself to five times a week just yet. “Goals are like a thousand-mile walk,” he says. “If you can’t do it once a week for three months, you’re not suddenly going to be able to do it all at once or regularly.” Start small. Try to fit your goal activity in once a week. If you like what you’re doing, and you achieve your once-a-week marker, you can add more days into the mix. “Find super-simple consistency, and you can build from there,” says Minardi. And don’t forget to keep track of your exercise goals and progress.

The Psychologist Says…

Make a plan for your resolution

It’s easy to get pumped about goal-setting, and forget about actual achievement in the hustle and bustle. “Once you have determined what your goal will be, make a plan and post your plan in plain sight,” says psychologist and counselor Karla Ivankovich, PhD, an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Illinois, Springfield. “Maybe you hang it on your mirror, maybe your refrigerator—but the visual reminder should include your goal, why you chose it, and a reminder of why quitting on yourself is not an option.” Listing the pros and cons of your choice can help, says Ivankovich. Each time you begin to waver in your conviction to hit the gym, or read that novel instead of vegging in front of reality TV, remind yourself that your personal development is worth the extra investment.

Keep resolutions separate from farther-reaching goals

Resolutions should be like mini goals, or intentions. You can set them at any time throughout the year; think of them as the bite-sized chunks that fuel the larger vision you have for your life. “This is actually very different from annual goal-setting,” Ivankovich says. “At the beginning of the year, choose five solid goals that you want to achieve. Once you have them, set a plan for achieving each one.” Your resolutions, or intentions, fit into that plan—which is why resolutions shouldn’t be restricted to New Year’s. Reevaluate your progress every 30 days to see if you’ve been moving in the direction of your larger goals, says Ivankovich. “Ask yourself questions like, ‘Did I start a path or plan to that goal? If not, what do I need to do? What might my path look like to get there?’” she says. “The more you recognize the presence of your larger goals, and task yourself to work toward them, the greater likelihood that you will remain successful.”

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Hijacking Sports for Creativity
idea white board

You are not alone: even the most creative people sometimes get stuck. You’ve thought all day about a solution but no idea is satisfying or close to creative. The mind starts to prepare for replacing the planned after-work training session with overtime. Don’t do that! Instead, try this workout routine which has often helped me.

“Generally, ideas pretty frequently come to me after or during a workout.”

I discovered by chance that I often follow a certain workout pattern before this happens; especially for solutions to challenges I have been thinking about for quite a bit.

Let’s be very clear: I don’t know of any scientific proof for this routine – it’s just an observation I’d like to give structure to. However, what I learned when doing so: it actually coincides pretty well with a more scientific description of the creative process.

Let me share the routine so you can give it a try, too.

The warm-up (Preparation phase)

So, instead of going for overtime, go to the gym – right after work. You’ll still be brooding over your puzzle.

Use the warm-up to mentally wrap it up – don’t think about potential solutions, just summarize the challenge’s key characteristics. Then draw a line: accept that you haven’t been able to find a satisfying answer yet and make a decision to let it go for now.

Also use the warm-up to plan the rest of your workout as you don’t want to think about it a lot later on. As all of this involves quite a bit of thinking, choose a warm-up program which is easy to execute.

I like to spend for example 10 minutes on dynamic warm-up exercises such as walking lunges, inchworms or upper back rotations.

Coordination work (Distraction phase)

The goal of this part is to do some exercise which demands your brain’s full attention. Distract yourself. It will help you to withdraw from the problem. I suggest some coordination training as it usually requires high concentration and focus. Ladder drills or simple crisscross jumping jacks, for example, are quite fun.

Distraction phase: Choose an exercise that requires all your attention.

Okay, ideally you are now in training mode, not thinking consciously about your issue.

The core workout (Incubation phase)

For the third and main part of your workout I suggest doing some endurance training such as rowing or running on the treadmill. It could also be something else but it should get your heart pumping, shouldn’t be mentally too demanding and should keep you going for a longer time (increase volume, decrease intensity). Try to seclude yourself from your environment’s impetuses. Get into the purest form of your ‘zone’ – a place of focus and achievement. Let your thoughts come and go. Why?

“This part of the workout attempts to set the stage and create space for the unconscious. It’s so powerful  – especially for creative problem-solving.”

It connects the dots in the ‘back-end’– something our logical ‘front-end’ thinking cannot do because it continuously wants to make sense of the world.

Rowing Frank final

Do what you want (Pleasure phase)

Depending on the time you have and on how exhausted you are already, you can now do some of your favorite exercises. Want to do some weight lifting? Great. Want to work the punching bag? Go for it. Push yourself and have fun (during all phases). That’s important, because then your body will release even more feel-good hormones that greatly benefit the creative process by triggering motivation and imagination etc.


Stretching and cool-down (Transition to Inspiration phase)

Okay, by now you’ll hopefully be exhausted. To finish your workout, take some time to cool down, lay on a mat and do some gentle stretching. Maybe get yourself inspired by some easy yoga postures such as the child’s pose. You have done it right if your brain feels ‘empty’ now (in a good way). I bet you know this feeling after an exhausting workout. This is again to give our unconscious some space.

This (or standing under the hot shower) is when ideas hit me most often. I have to admit that sometimes it doesn’t happen at all and I need to try something else or go for the ‘best bad idea’ I’ve had. However, I’m more than happy with my quota of success using this training pattern.

Body and soul are one!

What experiences have you had with sport helping your creativity?

Share your thoughts here on the blog, leave a comment on LinkedIn or send a tweet to @framatho or @adidasGroupBlog.

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Staying in the Here and Now is your ticket to a bright future

Stress: Something that we all have to deal with once in a while – sometimes in our private lives, but probably more often at work. While some of us seem to deal with it quite easily, others suffer more. I’ve found something that seems like an easy way to make things better: Mindfulness.

Running at full speed – 24/7

We live in a crazy world. The expectation of others seems to constantly increase, whilst those expectations we put on ourselves are usually quite a lot as well: Job, family, sport – we always strive to be perfect. We always want to get better. Outperform. At least I, as a comms manager, father of three and an avid handball player, usually run at full speed pretty much all day.

My personal answer to all of this is sport. When I feel like I need a break, I just go for a run or do a work out in our gym. That usually works perfectly well for me to get my head free and recharge my batteries. I also know that I am in a very privileged situation, given the great variety of sport facilities that we have here at the adidas Group HQ. What would happen if for whatever reason I couldn´t do so much sport anymore? What if doing sports wasn’t enough to reduce the stress anymore? For many people, this situation results in sickness, burn outs or a drop in performance.

A ritual you should try at your desk as well: Take a deep breath, free your mind and just focus on the moment

A ritual you should try at your desk as well: Take a deep breath, free your mind and just focus on the moment

Mind full vs mindful

With this in mind, I went to a talk about `mindfulness´ which was part of the health week – a week full of talks, workshops and courses all around the topic of health – offered and organized by our health and fitness team. Now, before I go on talking about what mindfulness (or to be more precise MBSR – mindfulness based stress reduction) is, I have to say that I am a very down-to-earth person. Anything that even smells like it could be esoteric usually turns me off immediately; however what I heard at this talk was absolutely convincing.

To understand what mindfulness is, let´s picture this scene: You drive to work, but when you arrive you hardly remember how you got there. Somehow you just drove. It just happened. Sounds familiar? At least it does to me. Here’s why: In our daily lives, very often we run on autopilot. When we do something, we don´t really concentrate on what we’re doing, we’re either thinking about the past or worrying about something that might be coming up in the future. Mindfulness is exactly the opposite.

In short, mindfulness is the ability to be fully in the present – just living and breathing the moment. Mindfulness is the practice of purposefully focusing your attention on the here and now and accepting it without judgment.

The benefits of mindfulness

MBSR is actually a fairly comprehensive program, developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, an American Professor of Medicine. A lot of research on the topic has shown that people who practice mindfulness find that they are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past. Mindfulness helps a lot in relieving stress and as a consequence, it improves physical and mental health, as well as the overall efficiency.

Want to give it a try?

Here are some easy exercises that can help you to be a bit more `moment-conscious´:

 1. Pause

Pause for a moment, close your eyes if you like and just focus on the moment.

  • What do you notice, hear, smell or feel in that very moment?
  • How do you feel in that very moment

You can do this exercise for as long as you like – 30 seconds or 5 minutes – it doesn´t really matter, just take in what you notice and don’t judge or analyze.

 2. Count your breath

Take a comfortable upright sitting position and just focus on your breathing. Start counting every time you exhale by visually imagining the number – 1 – 2 – 3 – and so on. Every time you realize that you’re to think about something else, start from zero again. This exercise is more difficult than it sounds, so make sure you take at least 10 minutes.

3. Conscious walking

Before you start with this exercise, pause for a moment and just focus on your body and feel how you breathe in and out.
Now you start walking slowly. Concentrate and experience how your feet touch the ground. Notice how you lift your heel, move your weight to the forefoot. What do you feel? What do you notice?
Notice how your full weight lies on one foot while the other lifts off the ground to take the next step.
Every time you realize that you start to think about something else, pause for a while and refocus on your walking.


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