Before you continue to read this article, we invite you to take a deep breath… Maybe your mind is surprised to see an invitation like this because it doesn’t seem related to cybersecurity! It doesn’t matter even if it seems weird, just do it anyway. Take a deep breath!
Breath is our main fuel to live so if you start the day with nurturing yourself, you can maintain your daily efforts of your mind which we use actively in our work life. When we are working our mind is alive. But are you sure that we only use our mind when working?
Let’s take another breath, but don’t hold it so much! Remember that breathing is a continuous process. Just like the same process maintaining your cybersecurity risks. Imagine line graphics that you face in your work life, the line goes up and down, with every input a variety of outputs occur which forms into that specific line. During this process of breathing in and out, we have the potential to give direction to our mood and mind which creates this specific shape of that line, that is the form of our mood in that specific time, our expression in life.
The problems start to happen when we lose touch with our body. The movement of the body helps all organs to renew themselves to be able to release necessary hormones that we need, which changes our mood during the day. This is why we feel good when we do sports, dance or walk. When there is no movement we lose our touch with our body which disconnects us from feeling good, being productive or positive.
But wait, of course it is not possible to dance when you are working -or possible in some cases if you are a dancer, actor or a performer in a kindergarten-, it depends.
Breath is already an activator for the movement of the body. Our body moves with our breath in a continuous way. So it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the chance to move, you can use your breath as an activator for a sustainable movement, let’s say like a harmonious line graphic. So being aware of our breath is already an effort -an inner movement- to stay awake.
You can create daily routines (in another word: rituals) to stay in a good mood when working. Like drinking coffee every morning, it is also not so hard to bring new healthy habits into your daily life. Drinking water at specific moments, having a chit chat with your loved ones, a short walk in the office or in your home, having fresh air when you feel exhausted, closing your eyes for a short period while listening to the sounds around you are very small steps but change your day in an amazing way.
If there is no chance to move, remember to observe a small plant on your desk, listening to a song that gives you joy or brings memories back which are also our minor movements, a way of joining life with our senses.
You can start the day by writing your main priorities on paper, with a pencil, using your hands. It will give you a soothing time just for yourself which will guide you to be aware of your breath and your hands which is also a way to connect with your body. Because we have a complex nervous system in which everything is related to each other, it is also an accepted reality by scientists that the hands are the extension of the mind.
“The hand is the visible part of the brain.”
- Immanuel Kant
More than half the brain is devoted to processing sensory experience, and much of that sensory receptivity focuses on touch. The brain is like a computer that is constantly processing incoming data from the senses. And like computers, the brain consumes more than one fourth of the body’s energy resources. We have touch receptors all over our body, they are not distributed equally. Did you know that our hands are some of the most metabolically expansive real estate on our body?
If you are interested in cybersecurity and working in front of a computer you are already using your hands as your tools all the time. It is also vital to take time for yourself to feel the touch in daily life. When possible in this era of social distance, you can boost your mood by using the touch when talking with a friend or loved ones but remember it can also be just a piece of paper, some fabric, a book, a plant or washing your hands just to feel water as well.
Our hands are skilled communication tools. If you are interested in the neuroscience of touch, you can watch this series of videos featuring Dr. David Eagleman -host of the PBS series The Brain- to dive into understanding how touch can color our interpretation of information.
“In humans touch represents a powerful form of non-verbal communication. Our sense of touch plays a fundamental role in daily life, from learning about objects to communicating with other people.”
- Dr. David Eagleman
The outer environment has an effect on our nervous system. Most of the time when we are working we have to keep our attention alive to accomplish our daily tasks or complex processes like analyzing, calculating, creating and so on. More important than this it is very vital to focus attention on a specific duty to be able to accomplish strategic goals and care for urgent needs. Breath is a main key to bring attention to the moment and into the body. If you recall all your memories about phrases in the beginning of guided meditations, it is all about ‘bringing attention to that specific moment’ which is possible with the guidance of breath. It is like one of your phrases everyone of us says, ‘If I forget, please remind me not to make that mistake again!’ The breath is a trusted friend who walks on that road together with you. So remember that the breath is your guide to remind. You can invite your friend into your reality anytime you want to be aware.
So you can ask for help from your breath just before you take an important decision, when you need your attention or coordinating complex workflows during a busy day.
Breath gives motion to our body and boosts our energy. When we breathe all the oxygen goes into our body, through our muscles, into every cell in our body.
Let’s have a breath and release everything that we hold while exhaling. When you exhale just release your shoulders, chest and feel a release even in your stomach. Why do we do this? Because when we are stressed or excited we have this habit to hold our breath together with our muscles, shoulders, neck, chin, teeth or even our mimics, our facial muscles. If you are already working in front of a computer your body has used to have so many habits with your posture. So if you release everything when you are giving your breath out you will also release the tension in your body so your mind will be more clear during the day.
As you can see there is a continuous relationship between our nervous system (our inner world) and environment (outer world). This is why it’s vital to arrange our environment to be able to balance our inner and outer worlds. (it is similar to the connection in between software and interface.) The more we bring balance into this connection, the more productive we are.
Being aware of flowing information in our inner and outer worlds and finding our vulnerabilities in our daily life will create a continuous care for our body, soul, mind - which means our life.
As in cybersecurity environment, if we scan information continuously to be aware of flowing information we will be able to define the threads or vulnerabilities. This is why it is vital to find an affordable and manageable way which will guide us in a simple (understandable) way to renew our system for caring for our security in the cyber world. A cyber world is an online environment where many participants are involved in social interactions and have the ability to affect and influence each other.
In real life, a thread, an affection can be junk food or unhealthy relationships or our belief systems that define our needs. If we don’t renew our way of thinking continuously, our vulnerabilities will be threads in our life. So it is important to have new healthy habits and change the way of living due to our needs starting from our daily routines to our relationships.
If you can remember to breathe then it is easy to filter your thoughts one more time before expressing your ideas and when having meetings with your colleagues which builds a healthy and sustainable communication. It also supports you for a crystal clear decision making process. This awareness will bring a fluid life force to be creative in your own way of thinking and will guide you to reach your own unique potential in your work and daily life.
If we want to bring simplicity to our inner and outer world, our work environment is also an important part of our life. As neurons have a connection with our outer world, when we have all that furniture, objects and stuff around us our nervous system is also busy with everything around us. If we unconsciously are busy with the things around us, our attention is also everywhere. If we find ways to declutter our work environment, our perception and attention will be more pure to focus on our work. Decluttering can be a new habit for your daily routine as well.
So after all this information flowing into your world, it is time to take another deep breath, this time with the awareness of movement of the body.
Feel that when you inhale your rib cage expands, your shoulders move and your spine changes its shape.
Let’s say if the breath is our fuel, movement is our power station to live life fully. The center of our movement is our spine. Even if we were babies who are not able to walk, we move with our spine to explore life around us. Any unhealthy habit that we gain when ignoring the signs of the body, the spine finds a way to align the body to this new situation to survive. But it doesn’t mean it is healthy, it is just a survival mechanism to be able to keep living. But there is a significant difference between living fully and surviving for a living. So when you are aware of the signs of the body -like the minor crisis in the work environment to prevent a major crisis- these signs will be your guides to align your body with your needs at that moment. Tension or pain are not an outcome but signals of the body when communicating with us to take an action for behavioral changes in life.
Maybe you say ‘How is it possible to move when working in front of a computer?’ No need to worry, there are many possibilities to move the body. Even if you remember to change your position every 15 minutes, this is awareness through movement. If we ignore the need of our body for movement because of long term working situations -or anything that we do in the same position for hours- our posture will attune to this new situation to find a balance to survive. When we are not aware of this need, our body will compensate for this unnatural situation which will cause tension or pain in the body. The more you ignore the signs of the body, the more tension or pain will be stabilized in your body. This is what doctors call a chronic pain. You can change this anytime with movement.
If you feel dizzy after looking into screens for a long time try to feel the ground with your feet. You can leave for a short walk just to feel your feet because we are creatures living with gravity. Gravity is what keeps everything from floating around. Remember to feel the ground when working. When your attention floats into the digital world, still be aware that your body is here, in this physical world. It is vital for us to feel grounded as living creatures to remember we are a part of this life. Science uses the word ‘orientation’ for being aware of your physical environment. If you just observe your physical world around you with your eyeballs, your neck up and down observing all the objects around you for a while, then you come back in this physical world. So the body aligns itself again and our nervous system perceives that we are here in this moment, now. This is very important to get rid of dizziness in daytime and it is possible to do it even when you are sitting in your chair, standing in an elevator or waiting in a queue. Your body is an instrument, just play games with your feet and breath!
When you move in every 15 minutes while you are working in front of a computer -or in any case working in same posture for long hours- your body will renew itself and will not learn unhealthy habits like ignoring the pain in some area, leaning one arm to the chair or table, crossing legs which causes closure on hip area where our vital organs are placed in. Do you see? You already move constantly in an unhealthy way. Don’t worry, it is easy to move the opposite way as well. Just remember to move your body!
Don’t let your mind think that these are scams of spiritual people. Life is real and we feel alive when we breathe because we renew our cells with oxygen. If we don’t, the muscles, organs, tissues and cells don’t have enough fuel to think, to feel and to do. Maybe you think that you don’t need to feel when working. Remember all the moments that you are trying to find a solution for an unsolved problem or you are on a point that you forecast to be able to see further needs, that is the ability for having a vision for decision making. It is the breath that renews your cells which will clarify your way of thinking. This also supports your intuition, the inner feeling of knowing which helps us to explore new ways when creating.
“There is no logical way to the discovery of these elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.”
– Albert Einstein
It is easy! Just remember to breathe as the first thing in the morning before looking at your screen. The rest will come.
How do you feel right now? Do you feel a little bit different today?
Take a deep breath and release everything to renew yourself.
Enjoy your day!