Reflection: It moderates stress and anxiety in children. It just might work for us, too. ‘It’ is mindfulness – a concept attracting growing attention in both the worlds of education and business.
Last week I spoke at an Early Childhood Education conference in Edmonton. Mindfulness served as the central theme for their event. And, as you might imagine, the practice of pausing for renewal and pausing to be more thoughtful, for which I’m known, fit right in.
It was a bonus for me to be able to sit in on a couple of other sessions, and I was intrigued to learn more about a new school-based program called MindUP. The program gives young students the tools they need to manage emotions and behaviors, reduce stress, sharpen concentration, and grow empathy and optimism. Sounds like something adults could use, too!
Two elements form the foundation for the program. Students are first introduced to basic brain science. They learn how stressful situations trigger natural defensive emotional reactions which shut down access to the thinking part of the brain. They are then taught to take charge of their brain and their behavior (to gather themselves) through the art of mindful breathing.
Breathing is presented as a way to settle the mind and the emotion – to sidetrack those ‘run away train’ feelings – so they can access the thinking part of the brain, the Prefrontal Cortex. Daily practice sessions (morning, midday and end of day) consist of three minutes of quiet, focused mindful breathing.
MindUP is showing strong results in developing emotional maturity (less anxiety and more calm), social relationships (greater empathy for others), and academic performance. And, the kids who see how well this works in their own lives are teaching their siblings and even their parents how to calm down and get a grip! How cool is that?
Last February’s 2012 ‘heart month’ give away (29 copies of Press Pause…Think Again in 29 days) was a real hit. This year, I’m offering another chance for you to encourage others in this very tangible way.
As February unfolds I will be giving away 28 copies of my booklet: ‘Take A Bow…67 Ways to Pause For Applause, Celebrate your Success, & Keep Your Spirits High’. These will go to people YOU want to encourage.
Here’s how it works. Think of someone in your circle of acquaintance who could use a lift or who you’d like to recognize for who they are and what they do. Email me that person’s name along with a thought or two about why you’d like to give them this gift. ( email@example.com )
Use the words, Take A Bow, in the Subject line of your email message. And, include your postal address in each entry. Include only one person in each nomination message. Enter as many times as you wish.
Each day I will draw the name of one lucky recipient from the entries received. If your nominee is chosen, I will personalize the booklet in their name and send it to you so that you can have the fun of presenting it yourself.
All entries received will be included in the draw bucket right through to the end of the month. I’m excited to be helping you help others to ‘Take A Bow’. Happy February.
PAUSE – 12.31 – Stretching Time Through Service
November 21, 2012
Reflection: Meet Gil and Soto. They run the Breakfast Room at the Best Western Arroyo Roble in beautiful Sedona, Arizona. It’s a busy spot with travellers coming and going – solo business folks in a hurry, retired couples with all the time in the world, active families in hiking gear eager to hit the red rock country trails.
Over the years, I’ve stayed at a number of ‘breakfast included’ hotels. The quality of the food has varied, but what has been pretty consistent is the lackadaisical, ‘I’d rather be anywhere else than here’, atmosphere set by the staff who manage the service.
That’s what makes Gil and Soto stand out. In the midst of the busy morning press (greeting guests, answering questions, orienting new comers, replenishing food trays, clearing tables), they are unfailingly smiling, welcoming, and helpful.
On our last morning, I told Gil how much I appreciated the way he and Soto went about their jobs. He commented that he’d learned a thing or two over his many years in the workplace. He noted that coming to work with a smile on his face and a desire to be of service to others makes all the difference in how people respond and in the way he experiences the pressures of the work itself.
Talking and thinking about it … or acting and moving on it? Robert Genn makes a compelling argument for one of these approaches in this week’s Painter’s Keys blog post, Two Artists. And, the concept applies not just to artists, either.
I can see a number of areas in my life where I have spent or am spending way too much time in one vein and not nearly enough time in the other. How about you?
PAUSE – 12.23 – So, What Do Ya’ Think?
September 19, 2012
Reflection: So, what do ya’ think? Or do you?
In our go-go, what’s next, action-oriented world, down time for tapping in to our inner world of thoughts and feelings can be hard to find. In some cases, compared to the get ‘er done action mentality, time to rest and reflect is seen as wasteful not valuable.
The brain science case for the value of pause is growing. In idle mode (when daydreaming and letting your mind wander), the brain is active in different ways. Instead of reacting to new stuff on the incoming track, it hums along connecting our mind’s storehouse of experiences, ideas, and emotions – making sense and making meaning.
If you want to consolidate what you’re learning, imagine possibilities, stay in tune with your emotional state, assess whether a course of action is a sound moral or ethical choice, give your brain a chance to do its thing.
Step away from external commotion and outside input. Drop inside and let your brain idle for a while.
Action: Here are five ways to give your brain a mental breather and turn your focus inward. (more…)
PAUSE – 12.19 – Consider The Multiplier
June 20, 2012
Reflection: Moment by moment, and day by day, decisions define our future.
Say yes to too many tasks with unrealistic deadlines, and time for renewal flies out the window. Sacrifice renewal and there goes access to a clear mind and creative thought.
Say yes to fast food or high cal snacks, and sound nutrition morphs into a hazy mirage on the horizon of good intentions. Sacrifice sound nutrition and there goes the capacity to maintain a healthy weight and robust energy.
Say nasty things in the heat of the moment, and key relationships start resembling beat up appliances in a scratch and dent sale. Damage too many relationships and there goes the support and the satisfaction that accompany quality connections.
Sure, we can and do make SOME of those less desirable choices without disastrous results. None of us are immune.
We just need to be aware of the multiplier effect over time. It’s a matter of balancing near term expedience with long-term consequence.
Action: Consider the long view as often as possible. Take any action and multiply it by ten, a hundred, or a thousand.
Then ask yourself this question: “Will more choices like that move you nearer to or further from your vision of the best life possible?”
Reflection: Very few of us have the stamina of the Energizer Bunny – that classically annoying, perpetually active, drum-thumping mascot of sustainability. While a fuzzy pink cheerleader for the world of 24/7/52/365 might be great for technology, it is not a healthy model for human beings.
To stay vital and active, we homo sapiens need renewing pauses through our day to replenish the energy we expend. What makes for the most renewing kind of pauses is a question for debate.
Researchers, Fritz, Lamb & Spreitzer, who share my interest in renewal in the workplace, have just released new research focused specifically on knowledge workers. They suggest that some actions undertaken in the name of renewal (taking micro-breaks or switching to another task) may not be as energizing as we think.
Most of the workplace energizers found to be effective in this research, relate to learning, strengthening relationships, and finding meaning at work. (more…)
PAUSE – 12.13 – Everybody Or Enough?
April 4, 2012
Reflection: If you’ve ever tried to change the culture or direction of a group, you’ll know how tough it can be to get everyone on board – rowing, driving, marching (pick your metaphor) in the same direction.
A few years ago, as president of a national association, I found myself repeatedly attempting to convince a couple of naysayers that the direction the Board had chosen was one of value and the ‘right’ way to go. The options had been debated, the decision had been made, and the train had left the station. However, I was still stuck at the rear urging a couple of reluctant individuals to jump on board.
I was fortunate enough to be counseled by a colleague experienced in the ways of change, who advised, “Pat, move on and move forward. We don’t need everybody. We just need enough.”
Those words rang true at the time, and I often call them to mind. Just last week, in a professional development session I delivered on Building An Appreciative Culture, an attendee asked, “How can we convince the lone wolf naysayers and grumps that it’s better to strike a more positive tone?” I found myself echoing my colleague’s advice, “Move on and move forward. We don’t need everybody. We just need enough!”
Now, sometimes there are legitimate concerns. And, sometimes there are other issues to work on or other directions to consider. And, sometimes, people are, at heart, all right with heading in the same direction; they just want to take a different route to get there. Things aren’t always black and white.
That said, there does come a point where it is simply time to get on with things. (more…)
PAUSE – 12.12 – Crossing The Line Can Be A Very Good Thing!
March 28, 2012
Reflection: As long time subscribers would have noticed, last week the Pause e-zine launched a fresh new look for spring. The feedback on the new format has been overwhelmingly positive; and I thank all of you who took the time to share your reactions.
The revamp has been a long time coming. It’s been a few years since I last surveyed readers. At that time, many of you urged me to take a flying leap (figuratively, of course) into the future. You recommended jazzing up the look of the e-zine saying,“Give us some color and a bit of a design to go with the excellent content.”
I got the message. And, I dawdled. Maybe this happens with projects in your life, too. You see a need. You set an intention and a direction. Then you dance around it for a very long time.
In the case of the e-zine, I collected examples and tinkered with designs. I flirted with the idea of asking for design help. I knew shifting to a more visual presentation was going to mean moving to a different list management service, which could mean changing providers. Complications! What seemed to be a small project loomed large. I danced elsewhere.
With the writing of each weekly message, that intention lurked over my shoulder, and I continued to note my lack of progress.
When I finally worked my way through the inertia to get the design and new service arranged – and launched it last week, I felt a tremendous sense of relief and accomplishment. More than that, as a writer, I harvested that burst of energy that comes with what amounts to a fresh pen and a brand new sheet of paper. It was a wonderful reminder of how crossing a finish line can be a powerful energizer. (more…)
PAUSE – 12.09 – Our Share Of The Space Between
March 6, 2012
REFLECTION: Ever notice how common is the tendency to share the glory when things go right, but how rare the tendency to shoulder responsibility when things go wrong? This inclination makes me think of the refrain in a very old ‘Horse and Carriage’ tune that says: ‘You can’t have one without the other.”
Maybe you’ve had a few experiences like these over the years:
* A ‘complaining’ friend or colleague regularly rains doom and gloom and pours bad news into every conversation.
* A relationship grows tangled – caught up in hasty communication, missed cues, and unfulfilled promises.
* An employee or colleague struggles to meet expectations and deliver on commitments.
It’s oh so easy to point fingers in any direction other than our own. It’s much tougher to contemplate that we somehow might have contributed to the outcome – for better or for worse.
ACTION: Relationships and results usually live somewhere between us – as a shared responsibility. When we see them this way, we are far more likely to look at situations through a ‘reverse lens’ and ask ourselves questions like these: (more…)