How much disconnection do you need?

DisconnectingAre you already back at work or are you still enjoying some time off, relaxing and energizing yourself?

For many people, holidays always start with a lot of stress, either because they need to pack the appropriate things and then spend hours at the airport tackling over bookings, delays or other unforeseen events. Or, as many of us here in Europe, you decide to take your car because of practicality or budgetary reasons just to find yourself in endless queues, traffic jams and accidents. It surely takes some patience to arrive where you want to be and at least a couple of days more to be able to get out of your ever turning  thoughts. For some people it takes as long as a full week, to come down again and feel some relief, even more so if you stay connected to your day-job.

Were you able to switch off your devices and really disconnect during your holidays? And how long did it take?

Many of us are not used anymore to leave our smart phones out during the day without regularly checking something; not only mails and other messages, but the weather forecast, simply the time, news, the best hiking route, the nearest restaurant etc. How many of us still remember how it felt like and – more and foremost – how we managed to “survive” without all the apps, devices, guides and information so readily available nowadays? And how many of us feel comfortable not to use our digital friends regularly and instead simply be for a while?

I agree, Stillnessit is very tempting to read mails and stay connected on social media with many “friends” even during the holiday period. How many pictures and posts can be found of “happy people” smiling into their camera wherever they are in the world…. It takes courage. And also patience as your mind will play tricks with you and lure you back to the device just for checking the weather (it would be safer) or the latest news (I have to know what is going on); of course, once you hold your smart phone in your hands, you don’t usually end up looking solely at the weather or news….

But it is worth it: disconnecting regularly has huge benefits on your overall health and well-being as well as your behavior with others in real life.

As with all things in life: finding the right balance is crucial and necessary in order not to be overwhelmed in a world spinning faster every day…

Enjoy the rest of the summer and take a deep breath!


What mountains can teach us

(null)Currently being in the mountains and enjoying the crisp fresh air as well as the snow, I thought it’d be a good moment to remind myself of the mountain meditation from Jon Kabat-Zinn . The purpose of this meditation is to become grounded and access our inner strength and stability when faced with stressful and/or challenging circumstances, both internal and external.

Even for people not used to practice yoga, meditation, mindfulness or other techniques, sitting (or simply standing) still and visualizing the image of a mountain can be very strong and powerful.

(null)So here it is, first a short description taken from Psychology Today and then a link to a nice and free audio version. Enjoy, breathe and be!

The Mountain Meditation

This meditation is designed to last about 20 minutes but can be shortened or extended based on the practitioner’s preference.

Sit down in a comfortable position on the floor or in a chair. After following your breath for a few moments, imagine- in vivid detail- the most beautiful mountain you know of and resonate with. Envision its various details and stable, unmoving presence grounded in the earth.

After a few minutes of developing and holding this clear image in your mind, imagine bringing the mountain inside yourself and becoming the mountain. Imagine yourself sitting in stillness and in calm, simply observing and resting unwavering as the various weather patterns, storms, and seasons pass before you.

Just as a mountain endures constant changes and extremes, we also experience various thoughts, emotions and life challenges. Imagine viewing these experiences as external, fleeting and impersonal events, akin to weather patterns.

Feel yourself unwavering and rooted in stillness amidst the constant change of your internal and external experience.

(null)And here a link to an audio recording you might want to listen to: mindfulness for students

Mindfulness, Connection and Sustainable Change

Busy London streetI just came back from busy London where I had the pleasure of following a really interesting mindfulness workshop hosted by Initiatives of Change UK with Rohan Narse, Geoff McDonald, Global VP HR, Marketing & Communications, Sustainability at Unilever and Graham Watts, Global Director of Education & Training at the Hawn Foundation.

I must say that in the UK they really are already at the forefront of dealing with uncertainty, ambiguity, pressure etc. not only in the business world but also in education. Addressing strategies to become aware of what is happening within oneself as well as being able to effectively deal with emotions, anger, stress is truly not a soft factor anymore. On the contrary, it more and more becomes a ‘hard skill’ that one has to learn in order to ‘survive’ in our global environment.

The earlier these competences are learned, the better, as they will become part of a person’s life and routine. Mindfulness applied to various aspects of life as one of the techniques that can be used, in particular coupled with meditation (or call it quiet-time, stillness) not only sharpens the mind and is a must for focus and creativity; no! It also strengthens the immune system, enables you to deal differently with life’s up’s and down’s and most importantly: enables you to live every single moment fully, enjoying the sun on your skin and the smell of flowers in the air. You really feel alive and begin to ‘be’ instead of running and rushing through your life.

Today I want to invite you to find some quiet time for yourself; close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath. Simply be and look inside yourself. You will be surprised at what you will find!


Easy and powerful stress-reduction technique

Heart Meditation

To end the weekend, I want to share an excellent technique called “quick coherence” from with you that I am often using when working in a training or coaching setting. It is very useful when starting a session, in order to reduce anxiety, stress or frustration; of course it can also be used at home or in preparation of difficult conversations or meetings. It is said to create positive changes in your heart rhythms, sending powerful signals to the brain that can improve how you are feeling and thus how you are acting and behaving.

  • Step 1: Heart Focus.

Focus your attention on the area around your heart, the area in the center of your chest. If you prefer, the first couple of times you try it, place your hand over the center of your chest to help keep your attention in the heart area.

  • Step 2: Heart Breathing.

Breathe deeply but normally and feel as if your breath is coming in and going out through your heart area. Continue breathing with ease until you find a natural inner rhythm that feels good to you.

  • Step 3: Heart Feeling.

As you maintain your heart focus and heart breathing, activate a positive feeling. Recall a positive feeling, a time when you felt good inside, and try to re-experience the feeling. One of the easiest ways to generate a positive, heart-based feeling is to remember a special place you’ve been to or the love you feel for a close friend or family member or treasured pet. This is the most important step.


4 tips on how to remain serene and creative throughout the week

Mindful LeadershipBefore you start the new week, let me give some tips on how to remain serene and creative even though you have to cope with a flood of incoming mails, various problems, family issues etc.:

  • When you wake up in the morning, smile to yourself; your mood will directly improve.
  • Every time you feel tight or stressed, remember to breathe. Even better: take a couple of deep breaths, walk a couple of steps and stretch; you will immediately feel better and tensions will loosen.
  • Take the habit of establishing some so-called ‘micro-practices’: a certain trigger makes you take a particular action reminding you of staying mindful and switching off the auto-pilot. Example: whenever you are stopping at a red light with your car, take a moment to check in with you body, to feel what is going on and to breathe a couple of times deeply. Or: whenever your phone rings, instead of responding immediately, take a moment for centering yourself and feeling your body.
  • Do something creative every day; be it arranging the kitchen table for dinner in the evening in a different way than usual, giving a creative input while being in a team meeting etc. You will see that the more you do that, the more ideas you will get!

Here’s wishing you an excellent week!


Podcast: 4 little hints to find time for your daily mindfulness practice

Podcast 1 | Jenny EbermannAfter promising since a while that I will look into it, I finally managed to start! Here is my first podcast in the Mindfulness Series, entitled “4 Little Hints to find Time for your Daily Mindfulness Practice“.

The podcasts are a very practical way to take me with you when you are at work, at home or on the road. Remember: You are the Architect of your Life! Everybody can start being mindful: TODAY!

Enjoy listening,


Life on a treadmill

Recently, the Harvard Gazette featured a very interesting article by Chuck Leddy writing about research conducted by Teresa Amabile, Director of Research at the Harvard Business School. She came to the conclusion that nowadays people are under more pressure than ever, trying to meet multiple demands and deadlines, which in turn lessens creativity and the potential for innovative ideas. She says:

“The single most important thing managers can do to enhance workplace creativity is protecting at least 30 to 60 minutes each day for yourself and your people that’s devoted to quiet reflection.”

For those of you regularly in contact with mindful leadership and the concept of emotional intelligence (EI) this will sound very familiar. The fact is however, that in most of the companies I know this creative space for self-reflection is missing. People don’t have a work-life balance anymore (across countries and continents); many are in fact solicited day and night thus living under constant ‘fire’ which is not only a result of digitization but also stems from a very particular workplace culture (the initiative which started in Germany trying to put this to a halt will be an interesting one to follow). More work is shouldered by less people as organisations become leaner. This doesn’t mean more money or benefits, in tough times these would indeed be frozen and the supplementary work simply expected.

As a result, everywhere the costs of absenteeism are on the rise (not only for the companies but also for the welfare state) as more and more people get sick, depressive or end up with burn-outs. In Switzerland during the last months, two top managers of major multinationals have even committed suicide, which to some extend shows the enormous pressure that (top) leaders have to endure (of course this was certainly not the only reason behind such an act and I certainly don’t mean to speculate here).

The point is that living a mindful life, in the here and now, allowing for breaks and ‘non-doing’, becomes a MUST not only for personal and individual health reasons but also for major companies. Without innovations, creative ideas and intrinsically motivated people there is no way competition can be outbid. As T. Amabile puts it:

“In the short term, people become less engaged in their work if their creativity isn’t supported. They will also be less productive because they often can’t focus on their most important work. In the long term, companies may lose their most talented employees, as well as losing out because they won’t have the innovative products, innovative services, and business models that they need to be competitive.”

In summary, organisational excellence thus starts with the people, giving them the possibility to opt-out and time to breathe. Everybody needs a clap on the shoulder and some encouraging words…

The time is ripe for change, not only in organisations but also in people’s minds!

So much for now, thanks for reading and please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you want to learn more about integrating mindfulness into your lives and related coaching/training practices.


My Related articles:

5 things to consider when starting your day

In order to begin your day mindfully and be ready for whatever might happen to you during the next hours when you’re awake, consider the following:

  • As soon as you open your eyes, become aware that you are alive, breathing in and out. Feel grateful for what you already have.
  • Instead of rushing out of your bed, think about how you want to live your day and set your intentions.
  • Don’t switch on ‘autopilot mode’ when getting dressed. Remember your aspirations and feel the clothing touching your body.
  • Brushing your teeth or showering, be fully present, don’t drift away to what comes next.
  • Take the time to eat breakfast, even if you only have little time. Prepare your food mindfully and savour every bite recognising how lucky you are to have enough to eat.
  • Taken from Thich Nhat Hanh – “Work”

    Finding and staying with the ‘flow’ – The Yerkes-Dodson Curve

    Many of you will already have experienced this at some times in their lives: you are not really motivated to go to work or open your laptop. You feel not energized at all, everything seems to be taking longer than before. Whatever it is you are doing is demanding you so much less than you are capable of that you actually feel completely bored and useless. Sounds familiar? Well, let me tell you that persistent boredom is  also a form of stress which – as all forms of stress over longer periods of time – can make you sick in various ways.

    Not being challenged enough is one extreme of the so-called “Yerkes-Dodson Curve” which looks like a reversed U.

    Yerkes-Dodson Curve

    Stress-Performance curve; source: Michael Chaskalson, The Mindful Workplace, 2011, page 59.

    As we also know all too well, life nowadays is asking many of us a lot in terms of data overflow, multitasking, more and more global organizations, hence increased workload at demanding times, etc. When dealing with these sort of challenges but still being capable of handling everything, we move up the curve towards the peak. Pressure increases but so does our ability to cope with it in an effective manner.

    Nevertheless, beyond a certain point, if the pressure continues to rise our performance will start to decrease. We feel less able to cope with the multitude of tasks we are to perform, details are lost in a sheer flood of information, we feel overwhelmed and unorganized. Our motivation drops and eventually, when this goes on for too long, we become sick. Obesity, burnout, depression, chronic pain, fatigue, cancer, heart disease are just a few key words to stress what an important impact stress can have on our wellbeing and our lives as a whole. Your body simply cannot cope with the permanent activation of the sympathetic nervous system… stress becomes distress.

    At the peak however, when finding the right balance between personal resources and challenge, we excel. In this state you are creative and efficient and you feel very good about yourself. Usually this state is called ‘flow’.

    You might be asking yourselves now: is there a way to prevent tripping over to the other side of the U? Well, yes there is! You have to find a “relaxation response”[1], that means a “(…)physical state of deep rest that counteracts the harmful effects of (your body’s) fight-or-flight response”. If you are able to do this, you might even discover a state of much higher performance than you ever would have imagined.

    Mindfulness training, as a way of being present right here and now with your own thoughts, feelings and physical sensations, will certainly enable you to deal better with wherever you are on the Yerkes-Dodson Curve.

    Don’t hesitate to contact me should you want to learn more about how mindfulness could help you! Jenny

    Further reading:


    [1] Chaskalson, page 63.

    A mindful approach for dealing with procedures and processes

    wiresIf you ever worked in big structures, be it in the private or in the public sector, you will have encountered a lot of procedures and processes. Imagine you need a specific software or an upgrade to an existing programme in order to carry on with your work. Normally, you can’t simply buy the latter yourself but you have to follow a certain procedure, i.e. find, fill in and submit a form somewhere and then hope that you get what you wanted as quickly as possible. Or you want to hire the services of a specific vendor and thus have to work yourself through procurement and other regulations in order to be able to pay the bill after the job has been delivered.

    I am sure you all know loads of examples where you had to overcome  – in your opinion – unnecessary hurdles to be able to simply deliver what you have been hired for in the required time frame. It is true that on first sight, procedures are complicated, slow down what could have been a straight forward job and might even end up in a lot of frustrations, if things get stuck somewhere and nobody knows anymore why and what to do to solve the problem.

    Well, let me tell you one very important thing: take it easy! You cannot change the way things are set up anyways and usually there is a reason behind the procedures even if sometimes it is quite difficult to see this. Instead of losing your precious energy in the process, focus on tackling it in a mindful way. As I have outlined in one of my previous posts about the basics of mindfulness, patience and letting go are two main ingredients on your path to positively dealing with a tough situation.

    Hence, if you encounter a process which is tedious and long and you have the impression that nothing moves forward:

    1. Take a step back and smile at yourself
    2. Remember that behind every procedure, online form and ‘hotline’ there are people just trying to do their job as much as you want to do yours.
    3. Be friendly with these people, it will make your life easier
    4. Concentrate your energy on things that you can influence and where your impact can be felt. These might be very small things, like helping a team member or pursuing another task.
    5. Pay close attention to what the frustration does to your body, i.e. how the stress can be felt and where.
    6. Let it go!
    7. Now you can write a message to your internal stakeholders telling them that there is a delay in delivering your objectives because of xyz reason but that you are doing all you can to speed things up.
    8. Let the things unfold, watch and breathe

    Please try this out for yourself and let me know what you experienced. I have to say that for me it works very well… life itself is short, so enjoying every part of it and focusing on things that matter and that you can influence should be your main concern! Enjoy the rest of your week! Jenny