Et si vous fermiez les yeux … juste là ?

Et si vous fermiez les yeux … juste là ?

La plupart des tâches sont réalisées devant un écran d’ordinateur et génèrent rapidement une sensation de fatigue. Pour une détente immédiate, fermez les yeux durant quelques secondes, et relâchez tous les muscles autour des yeux. Une étude scientifique de l’université du Surrey indique même que fermer les yeux libère notre intelligence !

Voici donc une pratique de résilience que nous vous invitons à cultiver cette semaine :
Je pratique la relaxation instantanée, et ferme les yeux quelques secondes, plusieurs fois par jour.

10 Tips for Rest, Recovery and Rejuvenation

10 Tips for Rest, Recovery and Rejuvenation

Originally published on and reproduced with permission.
Written by 

The Season for Stillness

We tumble to the end of another warp-speed year. We spin through our tasks and grasp at floods of information.

We press too hard, too fast and for too long. Reservoirs are sucked dry. Self-awareness fades. Self-regulation is impaired. Your health and your relationships are at risk.

It is time to slow down, repair, rejuvenate and reconnect with what matters.

In a world of optimisation, ambition, pride and duty, we push hard on multiple fronts. The rest, recovery and rejuvenation cycle is squeezed out between ever shorter bursts of dopamine. We are child-like in our impulsive tapping, swiping, checking, buying, rushing, feeding… compelled to chase the next hit.

As I come to the end of 2019, I feel battered. My mind is a little flat. Attention is fragile. Relationships are edgy. I know I need a good break. I am struggling to disconnect, calm my hypervigilance, and allow the natural cycle of recovery. I sense it in our family, friends and colleagues.

Rest, recovery and rejuvenation (R3) is the next competitive edge. Ironic!

My end of year message it to give rest, recovery and rejuvenation your full attention.

At a cellular level, the R3 cycle is vital to repair and rejuvenation. It is the key to longevity and sits at the biochemical core of fasting, sleep quality, intense activity, meditation, and cold water baths. It is a promising solution that supports this process of slowing, cleaning and repairing hard working cells.

The R3 cycle is key to musculoskeletal strength and physical wellbeing. Intimacy, touch and dreaming (REM) sleep stimulate the R3 cycle for emotional wellbeing. The default network is the R3 cycle for cognition allowing us to focus, engage and refresh our minds.

Our end-of-year pause is an opportunity to capture the R3 cycle for life and family. Please make an effort to allow for adequate rest, recovery and rejuvenation as your year comes to an end. Engage your family in this process so that you may reconnect in more intimate ways.

Share what works well for you.

Dr Sven on Meditation

Dr Sven on Meditation

By Dr Sven Hansen
Originally published on and reproduced with permission.

Meditation has gone mainstream for good reasons.

The evidence confidently shows physical, emotional and cognitive benefits [i]
Roughly 2,500 years of dedicated practice proves safety
Meditation presents as a foundation competence for our future
It can be the most enjoyable part of your day and enlightens the rest
So, why isn’t everybody meditating? Even, philosopher of our time, Noah Yuval Harari [ii], recommends meditation. He believes it generates the mental and emotional resilience required in our future of artificial intelligence and increasing human redundancy.

The first reason is overload – the very reason we should be meditating. The second is language. Meditation or mindfulness can trigger xenophobic reactions or seem too intense. The third is the immaturity of the field with a flood of overenthusiastic novices. The fourth is a failure of execution.

The last is the one to be confronted. The knowing-doing gap.

To be fair, I recommend that you secure your sleep and exercise first. To meditate when you are sleep deprived or unfit is wasteful. However, for many their meditation practice is the solution to sleep and the motivation to move.

If meditation is your next challenge, here are some tips to get the wins.

1. Get the language right
Meditation is our word for a strategic investment. Tactical Calm or Breath Control is for quick relaxation. Tactical Focus is for practical attention skills. We have dropped mindfulness as too broad. Be confident in the word you choose. You do not want to feel embarrassed or ashamed when you talk about it. Fortunately, there are many paths.

2. Allocate the time
While at first it feels like booking a dentist appointment, you have to get serious about allocating protected time. There is a theme that the minimum investment for sustainable gains is 8 minutes per day. Be on time for this appointment every day. Imagine it as a confirmed meeting with the CEO of life – which is exactly what it is. Even if the appointment is a mess, stick with the full allocated time. Two to five minutes is a good start.

3. Play – be curious and creative
A big disappointment is when you sit down to control your mind and find perfect bliss. To your dismay, as you sit your mind dissolves into agitated chaos. Within minutes you are miserable – appalled to discover that you have absolutely no control over your thoughts and feelings.

Be relaxed and playful. You are entering a virtual world with a whole new set of rules. You have switched external stimuli such as weather, work, gadgets, and relationships to an inner world of biochemistry, emotions and thoughts. For many this is foreign territory. You will have to learn to relax into this new drama and get to know the characters.

Watch the pain and see how it tugs for attention and sympathy. Really focus into that feeling of anxiety and experience how it wants to take control of your mind and movement. Look clearly into the bubbling stream of thoughts and images and how easily they can snatch away your commitment to focus on your breath – even hijack the entire practice.

Your job will be to discover who you are in this kaleidoscope of sensations, feelings and thoughts. I sense that itch. I feel that frustration. I notice that thought. Be present and attentive to the “I”. Keep coming back to yourself as the subject, the watcher or the witness.

4. Establish your base practice
Your base practice is to sit comfortably on chair or cushion:

Keep your spine light and long.
Let your shoulders roll backward and down.
Breathe through your nose.
Relax your chest and let your sternum sink downward.
Exhale completely over six seconds and pause gently.
Inhale slowly and evenly aiming for four seconds.
Keep your chest, neck and face relaxed
Allow your belly, side ribs and loins (over kidneys) to expand.
Keep your face and neck relaxed.
Notice your pulse, muscle tone, and skin
Focus on the rise and fall of your upper belly – ‘rising…..falling…..rising…’
Breathing at 10 seconds per breath means 48 breaths. Simple. Yeah right.

5. Commit to daily discipline
Regardless of how messy, wasteful, frustrating or disappointing the experience, resolve to sit down tomorrow and repeat. You will miss the odd day. As much as possible secure a daily practice. Even if you need to lie in bed and breathe at the end of a hectic day, it is something. There is also a case for taking a minute every hour through the working day to sit up, relax, drop your attention to your breath and breath slowly (6 out, 4 in) for 6 breaths.

6. Set your basic rituals
Starting a new practice or daily ritual is challenging at first. After about six weeks it will become a routine that requires little thought or effort. For the first six weeks simply sit and breathe with an open, non-judgemental presence to the sensations, feelings and thoughts. Gently fix your attention on the rise and fall of breathing. Use the exhale as an anchor.

As your practice steadies, prepare with a few stretches or yoga poses to mobilise your joints, stretch the muscles and engage your diaphragm fully. Select a place that is quiet, peaceful and comfortable. Once your breath and attention are a little more stable, sense the life force in your body. Encourage feelings of peace, gratitude, appreciation and kindness. Let your mind settle quietly on your point of focus. Reach into the “I” or subject and be present to the show. Your sense of self becomes more stable. This is meta-awareness or meta-cognition. You have a reference point that is separate from the senses, feelings and thoughts.

As you grasp this meta-awareness, begin to lengthen your practice out to 20 or even 40 minutes.

7. Explore variations for deeper practice
When ready, explore meditation variations. In my own practice, I start with a tactical focus to initiate my practice. On Monday I generate feelings of calm, on Tuesday vitality (energy), on Wednesday love, on Thursday contentment (gratitude) and Friday, joy. This is an excellent way to build strength in your positive emotions and if feels like a good build for the week.

Once you are deep in meditation there are three main branches [iii]. All are based on your now practiced ability to sit calm, clear, and present to your breath. The first is focused attention. Select a focus. The rising and falling of the abdomen, the flow of breath at your nostrils or simply a word or a visualisation. Resolve to hold your attention on that focus. Imagine your attention like a beam of light. You are the source that must direct, focus and fix the beam of light on the focus point.

The second is loving kindness. Start with feeling your body and sinking into a sincere acceptance, gentleness and kindness toward yourself. This is called self-compassion. Then bring to mind parents, partner, children and loved ones. Extend a genuine intention that they be peaceful, loving and joyous. As your capacity for loving kindness grows, extend that intention to your communities, all people, all sentient beings and ultimately the universe.

Finally, there is open presence. Imagine the “I” as subject or witness to body, emotion and mind (objects of awareness). You are reversing back up towards the source. You create distance from body, emotion and mind. Become one with awareness. When you ask the questions ‘who is aware?’ or ‘who am I?’, you begin to experience open presence. It is vast, expansive, free and beautiful.

Meditation can be fun. Come and play.

[i] The Science of Meditation, Davidson and Goleman, 2017

[ii] 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, Noah Yuval Harari, 2018

[iii] Altruism, Matthieu Ricard, 2015

See article


Train up body, heart and mind

Train up body, heart and mind

By Originally published on and reproduced with permission.

With attention disorders, anxiety and depression swallowing up ever more of our lives, should we wail, gnash our teeth and take our medicines? Or, could we use wellbeing – body, emotion and mind?

We have massive, profitable industries to address our suffering. Starting with dubious diagnoses, mental health businesses, psychiatry and pharmaceuticals profit handsomely from our suffering.


Three common stories

Jack is a boisterous boy great on the sport field but a distracted and distracting event in the classroom. The teacher complained and he ends up on Ritalin. His classroom behaviour improved and the family found things more peaceful. Ten years later Jack is still on Ritalin but saves them up for tests. He is so “jacked up” by the evening, he uses alcohol to calm down. Jack joins 9.6 million Americans on ADHD medication.

The global sale of ADHD medication is estimated to reach USD24 billion by 2024.

Peter is shy and challenged by social events. His parents protected him by staying close. Peter learned that he needed protection from a scary world. Teachers, coaches and friends realise that Peter is fragile so no one tells him the truth. Instead he worries. He is diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder and takes Xanax (anxiolytic) joining 32 million Americans on anti-anxiety medicine.

Jane had an adverse event as a teenager. She never quite recovered becoming withdrawn, pessimistic, tearful and self-critical. Six weeks later she was given a diagnosis of depression and started on antidepressants. At 30 she is still trying different antidepressants and is jobless. She finds alcohol can help her have a decent evening out. Jane joins 43.6 million Americans on antidepressants.

Global sales of anxiety and depression medication are expected to hit USD18.3 billion by 2025.

We will simply ignore prescription opioids for now.

Perhaps these medicines have made us more focused, calmer and happier. Could we do better? We have the knowledge to see our suffering for what it is. Well tested practices can help us return to the resilience that evolution has neatly packaged as a core human attribute. Maybe it is time to clarify and accelerate our learned resilience.


Wellbeing and Resilience

We seek physical, emotional and cognitive wellbeing. Our bodies, our feelings and our thoughts can be helpful or damaging. In wellbeing, our bodies are energised and engaged in the flow of life. We sleep well, stay active and eat wisely. Our feelings are positive – content, grateful, loving, calm and joyous – more than angry, sad or fearful. Positive psychology suggests at least three positive emotions to counter each negative. Our mind is calm, curious and fully present to the moment: “Wow, amazing!”

In contrast, Jack is wired, restless and hyperkinetic. He catapults from boredom to intense craving and impulse. His mind jumps randomly between distractions. He lives in the future: “what is next?” He may overindulge in sugars, sleep little, and demonstrates little empathy.

Peter is hyper-alert, heart racing, pale, eyes wide, and lips drawn wide. He feels fear. Waves of anxiety accelerate his heart, trigger his asthma and lead to exhaustion. He worries: “What if they don’t like me, what if the bus is late, what if…?”. He lives in loops of worries about future risks. He sleeps little, eats little, and avoids activity because of the risks.

Jane slumps forward, shoulders round and head bowed with sadness etched deeply in her eyes, eyebrows and lips. She feels tired, sad, tearful and hopeless. Her mind ruminates: “I am useless, I always mess up, I am such a loser, everything is going wrong…” Her screen is her best friend, she eats for comfort, lies awake in the early hours, and sleeps until lunch on the weekend. Exercise is pointless.

There is a pattern and a story in the body, in the emotions, and in the mind. Those patterns lead to behaviours and outcomes. We can deny our body, emotions and mind. We can even blame a disease (or a person or a system) for all the problems. We can ask others to take care of them. We can abdicate responsibility and ask for a pill.


Master body, emotion and mind

Yet we can own our body, emotions and mind. We can learn to notice them and even relax into accepting them. When we observe and accept, we are no longer our body, our feeling or our thoughts. They become objects. Objects can be studied. We can experiment. We can seek and practise new ways relate to our body, emotion and mind.

For example, both Jack and Peter could practise slow, diaphragmatic breathing while learning to hold their attention in the present. Jane could sit upright and lift her chin with her shoulders rolled slightly back. All would benefit from sleep – and exercise – and a Mediterranean diet. A recent meta-analysis suggests it can reduce depression by 33%.

The body has many levers to lift ourselves out of suffering. Simple actions. Well proven. More wellbeing. Here’s how:

Jack could work on feelings of contentment and direct his attention toward how others are feeling (empathy). Peter really needs to appreciate the moment (gratitude) and remember that most people experience some anxiety. Jane needs to seek joy and appreciation. She must make every effort to smile generously.

Our emotions are simply tools that we can learn to apply more skilfully. Simple action. Great fun to practise with others.

Jack’s attention circuits were slow to develop. He needed help from early on to train attention. He can learn to work in focused bursts with adequate rest and activity between. Peter can learn to accept watch his worries. He will notice how often they are exaggerated and unlikely. He can learn to catch worry and gently direct his attention to the present.

Jane needs coaching to help her notice the loops of self-deprecation. She can learn how to catch “I always fail” and adjust it to “I sometimes fail” and then to “We all make mistakes sometimes”. This cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is well proven to resolve depression as well and more permanently than medication.

Again, we see that thoughts can be observed, described and adjusted to be more realistic and positive. The mind is trainable – awareness, attention, bounce and positivity.

Remember that studies have shown that simply sitting slumped in front of a screen can trigger depression. Sitting upright lifts testosterone and reduces cortisol. Think of all the tiny nudges we could offer young people at home, in school and in sport. Little reminders to stand tall, to breathe out, to appreciate a gesture, to be fully focused in the moment.

What if we could be more objective about the wonderful resourcefulness in our bodies, our emotions and our minds? What if we could be more skilful and accountable in owning and mastering them? This is true wellbeing.

Bad stuff happens sometimes. I’ve got it covered. We’ve got it covered. We have toughened up.

What are we waiting for?

A Guide to Resilience and Wellbeing

A Guide to Resilience and Wellbeing

By Originally published on and reproduced with permission.

For 40 years, researchers have been investigating the impact of resilience on health, wellbeing and success. More recently, resilience has gained traction in popular culture, too. Across digital and print media – mothers, employees, trauma survivors and ordinary people are encouraged to harness resilience to improve their lives. In 2015, The New York Times published an article on ‘The profound emptiness of resilience’ – which lamented the overuse and misappropriation of this term in popular culture. Whilst ‘resilience’ is sometimes defined inaccurately, frequent usage of the word suggests it’s an extremely important concept that resonates with people from all sections of society.

Part of the reason dialogue on resilience has entered the mainstream is because – as a concept – it complements contemporary definitions of wellbeing. Wellbeing, as we know it today, favours holistic models of health, many of which have existed for centuries but have garnered exposure in Western countries within the last decade or so.  We’ll explore why the concept of resilience holds so much promise in today’s ‘wellbeing-conscious’ world.


Models of Health & Resilience

Depending on who you ask, ‘health’ and ‘wellbeing’ mean various things. The Western biomedical model draws a distinction between physical and mental health. In contrast, alternative models – influenced by Eastern and Ayurvedic philosophies – see the mind and body as inextricably linked. There is compelling evidence to suggest that toolkits such as resilience can help protect the body against various physical illnesses. Given societies’ increased acceptance of the close relationship between mental and physical health, it’s no surprise that resilience has risen to the top of the agenda.

Additionally, the biomedical model assumes that “disease is the single cause of illness” and once the isolated disease has been cured, the body will return to good health. Alternative health models do not assume that disease is behind all illness. Instead, these models try to nurture a solid foundation upon which the individual can self-regulate, avert illness, and achieve an overall sense of wellbeing. Crucially, alternative health models take a holistic approach to healthcare and are concerned with creating balance and equilibrium within the body. When considering this notion of balance, it seems almost identical to the notion of resilience. Resilience is often defined as “the ability to bounce-back from negative events.” In other words, resilience depends on the ability to return to a state of equilibrium after a period of adversity. Perhaps resilience discourse has grown rapidly in recent years because it appeals to our desire to achieve balance and equilibrium in the face of stressful work environments, busy schedules, and unstable economies.

How Can We Develop Resilience?

Norman Garmezy, an early resilience researcher, noticed that some children in his studies appeared to ‘bounce-back’ from trauma or neglect more effectively than others. These children had calm and balanced temperaments but displayed strong social intelligence. Later, developmental psychologists theorised that children were more likely to be resilient if they had formed a strong, trusting attachment with a loving caregiver.

However, all is not lost if resilience is not formed in childhood – it’s a skill that can be nurtured in adulthood too. Negative thoughts such as ‘the world’s out to get me’ can create a victim-mentality which prevents individuals from obtaining or maintaining resilience. According to many psychologists, the degree to which individuals feel in control of their lives (i.e. their locus of control) will determine how resilient they are. Crucially, perceptions are malleable, so if someone feels victimised and powerless in their life – training can enhance their ability to feel in control – thereby facilitating resilience.

Harnessing Resilience – Creating Balance

A recent study aimed at improving health in the workplace found that resilience training lowered levels of depression, reduced sickness-related absence, and increased self-esteem. Employees attended 12 weekly resilience-building sessions, which incorporated a holistic mix of interpersonal therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling. Encouragingly, this study suggests that resilience is a skill that can be taught in as little as three months!

Rather than prescribing individuals with isolated treatments to reduce workplace absences, this study suggests employers should encourage workers to build strong psychological foundations through resilience training. Resilience appears to improve workers’ overall wellbeing, nurture their ability to self-regulate and improve numerous outcomes for both the business and the individual. Interestingly, this study also found that resilience training improved employees’ perceptions of their overall work-life-balance, suggesting that resilience training helps foster the state of ‘balance’ highly valued in contemporary wellness discourse.

A similar study found employees were more likely to achieve a multitude of positive goals if they harnessed strong foundational resilience. For example, resilience could protect against poor sleep, sickness-related absence, stress, low productivity and low job satisfaction. Importantly, researchers found resilience most useful for protecting against sickness-related absences during periods of high-strain (compared to low-strain). If wellbeing is imagined as a state of balance, it’s unsurprising that individuals in higher-strain environments would require comparatively more resilience skills to enable them to return to a state of equilibrium. For example, if one side of a see-saw is weighed down with adversity, the weight of this adversity will dictate how much resilience is needed on the other side of the see-saw to maintain equilibrium. Indeed, resilience training is likely to be invaluable for sectors where employees are prone to burnout – such as nursing, management and policing.

Crucially, it’s not only workers who might benefit from resilience training. One study showed that resilient mothers were better able to juggle the competing demands of motherhood such as caring for others, timekeeping, sustaining employment and self-care. This suggests resilient mothers are better equipped at fostering the healthy, balanced lifestyle central to contemporary definitions of wellbeing. Moreover, this study found that resilient mothers were more able to promote positive health outcomes for the whole family – not just for themselves.  Harnessing resilience is not a selfish goal then! Indeed, scientists have predicted that, if whole communities were taught resilience skills, they’d be better able to work together to help each other bounce-back from natural or political disasters.

The Cornerstone of Healthcare

Resilience may well be an overused term, but it’s easy to see how this concept has gained such a following. The concept of resilience holds promise for those seeking balance and stability in a very ‘wellbeing-conscious’ era. In the same way that yoga, meditation and rest can rebalance the body after stressful events, resilience can enhance an individual’s ability to return to a state of equilibrium after an adverse experience.

Resilience is a foundational psychological tool which empowers the individual to feel capable of handling uncertainty. Resilience training is not a ‘treatment’ for a disease but rather an investment in an individual’s overall health and wellbeing. Wade and Halligan predict that, in the near future, we’ll stop using the biomedical model of illness to inform our healthcare systems.  Indeed, if we continue to incorporate more holistic definitions of wellness into our vocabulary, it is likely that resilience-awareness will become the cornerstone of future healthcare systems.