Observe how you are doing the act itself. Now, slow it down. Breathe in that air a bit deeper, and use your full lung capacity like it's meant to be used. Become aware of the correlation between your breath and your mind. Notice how when your breaths are slow and deep, your mind starts to feel the same. It calms down. Try to change your breathing habits. Every time you notice that your breathing is erratic, fast or shallow, pause for a moment and deliberately begin to take longer and slower breaths. Mindfulness training has also been shown to be helpful for people struggling with addictions and eating disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), recurrent depression, and severe mental illnesses, among many other conditions. Recently, the attitudinal qualities of mindfulness training were credited for driving many of the benefits related to increasing resilience. Consistent meditation also appears to protect the grey matter in the brain from age-related decline. 'We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating, ' said study author Florian Kurth, postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center. 'Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain. ' On the other end of the health spectrum, mindfulness is now becoming standard practice for progressive athletes and coaches to enhance human performance. Athletes are finding mindfulness and meditation training helpful for improving their ability to focus and control their attention; reducing anxiety, stress, and burnout; and enhancing their ability to enter into flow states. As he realized, he had replaced a nine-to-five with a five-to-nine (if not worse), and was no longer walking twice a day to and from the subway. He seldom made it to the gym and was less focused when he did go, posting Instagram stories along the way.

James had swapped working for the man with working for a computer algorithm, endlessly chasing hits, likes, subscribers, and comments. The algorithm was proving to be a much more demanding boss, and James was paying the price. James's story points us to a sad truth about technology. We now have labor-saving devices like computers in every home, constant connectivity throughout the world, and the ability to work from anywhere, largely according to our own schedules. But do we have more free time for physical activity as a result? Not at all. Instead, the industrial, technological, information, and social media revolutions have eroded the boundaries and blurred the lines between our professional and private lives, between home and away. Thanks to the powerful computer in our pockets, we are constantly connected to the office, and moving less than ever before, regardless of our occupation or industry. ' We were not encouraged to ask questions or to talk at all. Dinner conversation followed a nasty pattern in which my parents took out their own discontent by creating arguments with the children. A conversation with one of us would begin with a no win, loaded question that evolved into a downward spiral ending in shame or reprimand. No matter what we said, it was usually picked apart, contradicted, or something was found wrong with our behavior. Sometimes there were dire consequences, like being hit. I realized that my eyes were still cowering, awaiting the blow or the reprimand, when I spoke and felt afraid. The larger workshop called forth the deeper forces beneath my need for approval, as well as my unresolved fear. The good part of this story is what I learned the next day. I determined that I would take conscious action keeping my eyes wide open and deliberately looking individuals in the eye as I spoke. When I did this, I was not only able to make a much stronger and better presentation, but I simultaneously vanquished my old childhood fear of speaking up and my fear of being in front of large groups, forever. This is why natural selection has favored a relatively long human life span despite the fact that the female reproductive potential typically ends in the late forties. Clearly, when it comes to human beings, the capacities to teach, to transmit wisdom and skills, and to serve as a repository for the culture are just as important as the capacity to reproduce.

The complexity of today's global society and the variety of skills required to master those complexities only amplify the importance of the older adults among us. What exactly is wisdom, and how does it develop? One standard definition is that wisdom consists of 'making the best use of available knowledge. ' This rather utilitarian approach implies that wisdom requires specific knowledge as well as a broad understanding of the context in which that knowledge can be put to use. But this definition isn't completely satisfying. For most people, wisdom also connotes a perspective that supports the long-term common good over the short-term good for an individual. Insights and acts that many people agree are wise tend to be grounded in past experience or history and yet can anticipate likely future consequences. Wise acts, in other words, look both backward and forward. We had a very pleasant conversation. He politely declined. He didn't want anything to do with us and didn't want us in his daughters' lives. We were on the other side of what would have been a battle for custody, so it was hard for him to appreciate the rationale behind our request. I understood. I knew Rachel would be broken by the news. Again. Then that Friday meeting came, and it went well. After four hours of learning all about a somewhat foreign process, we left feeling good about the decision, about the road ahead, that we had a plan and a restored hope in a dream that had felt hopeless for some time. As luck would have it, the office of the attorney was next door to an amazing restaurant that we'd been to a couple of times in celebration. Take a few minutes to practise this each day until you can make these new breathing habits the norm. Over time your breathing will change and so will the way you do things.

If you would like to live life slower and more focused, with a simplicity and a calmness, watch your breathing and change old habits. Slow things down. One of the dangers of the modern curse of too much 'screen time' is that we can forget to exercise. To use our body, rather than our head. We need to learn to get out of our heads and into our bodies! Exercise is an awesome way to occupy ourselves. It gets us into our bodies and grounds us. Combining daily exercise with getting out in nature is one of the most therapeutic things we can do - and doesn't need to cost a penny! I have personally found it extremely helpful for improving my ability to stop negative self-talk that can happen during workouts and events. The changes that practising mindfulness elicits in the brain--decreased activation of what is known as the 'default mode network ' and an increase in the activation of the 'experiential network '--are quite amazing. You experience this when your mind wanders and then you realize you are daydreaming and bring your attention back into the here and now--that's the shift from the default mode network in your brain to the experiential network. With practice and consistency, other networks in the brain related to the ability to control focus and attention become more active and strengthened. These are the alerting, orienting, and executive control networks, all of which are critical for mental performance. Imagine that you are about to give a presentation to a large audience. Are your palms sweaty? Is your heart beginning to flutter? Is your stomach turning? Are you thinking, 'Oh my, there are so many people out there, ' or worrying about what the crowd will think of you? We also increasingly spend what leisure time we do have in front of screens. American adults spend almost 50 percent of their days, or more than ten hours, with their noses buried in their tablets, smartphones, computers, and televisions.

1 In 2016, American adults also logged nearly six and a half hours of sitting a day, probably looking at screens. 2 Such sitting time is harmful--to quote a CNN headline, reporting on a 2017 Annals of Internal Medicine study, 'Yes, sitting too long can kill you, even if you exercise. '3 Unfortunately, most adults don't exercise either. As a 2018 World Health Organization (WHO) study found, only 25 percent of global adults engage in enough physical activity, which per the study left 'more than 1. 4 billion adults at risk of developing or exacerbating diseases linked to inactivity. '4 The situation is even bleaker for younger Americans. Of the five and a half hours of free time that American teens have each day, the Pew Research Center found they spent the majority (almost three hours on weekdays and nearly four hours on weekends) scrolling, swiping, surfing, and playing games on screens. By changing the way I used my eyes, I actually moved beyond my fear of speaking my truth in more difficult circumstances. In this respect, my eyes not only demonstrated I had a problem, but also became an important part of an action that resulted in significant inner change. Noticing what our eyes are doing is an interesting awareness exercise that gives us immediate feedback about our current inner condition. Are we frightened? Are we angry? Are we sad? Are we totally confused? The eyes can tell us. When we are connected to our truth the eyes express this connection. When we are in doubt the eyes relay our doubt. Wisdom is also generally understood to be informed by multiple forms of intelligence--reason, intuition, heart, and spirit. It is fundamentally the manifestation of developmental intelligence--a mature integration of thinking skills, emotional intelligence, judgment, social skills, and life experience.