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Mindful : August 2013
OVERHEARD “Stress impacts our body, but it’s our mind that takes us out of the present. Learning to be present is a difficult thing to do. We get sleepy, we get restless, we get frustrated. But the fact is, we just keep coming back. This is the tool: just keep coming back.” Diana Winston, TEDx, Sunset Park How often are you aware of your breathing over the course of a day? (Aside from those meetings that are so boring you wonder if you’ve stopped breathing altogether.) Probably your answer is not often, or never. But paying attention to how you’re breathing at any given moment can be a powerful tool in dealing with stress. And now a breath-measuring app is be- ing tested that could help you track how you’re doing throughout the day. “You can think of Breathware as a pedometer for your breath,” says Neema Moraveji, director of the Stanford Calm- ing Technology Lab and cofounder of Breathware. The app measures breath rate through a sensor that you wear at your waist. It sends respiration information to your smart- phone, and if your breathing becomes erratic or you’re holding your breath— “which we often do,” says Moraveji—the app sends you a notification and offers a practice to bring your breathing back to a normal rate. Normal, Moraveji explains, just means what’s comfor table. “There is no universally good way to breathe.” Moraveji says that increasingly popu- lar “self-tracking” devices—wristwatches that monitor heart rate, mobile apps that measure stress through the phone’s cam- era lens—are still “pretty preliminary” ways of measuring body changes. And they often supply readings of things we can’t control, he notes. But breathing is different. With the information at hand, you can alter your breathing, your thinking, or both. “The way you breathe relates to the way you’re thinking,” says Moraveji. “If you’re breath- ing kind of shallow or fast and erratic, the brain is doing the same thing. If you’re breathing smoothly and deeply, the mind is operating in a similar fashion. The breath is mirroring the thought pattern.” ● Watch a video at mindful.org/breathware Breath Care HYDRATE Pour yourself a glass of water. Enjoy the sound of it pouring into the glass. Go off and drink it someplace. Do nothing else. Find more on Twitter @mindinterrupter now 16 mindful August 2013 PHOTOGRAPH:COURTESYOFWWW.BREATHWARE.COM