At the Hour’s Top

A collective poem for the anniversary of @2:50

Thank you to participants and guests for joining us to celebrate the anniversary of MIT@2:50 and for your individual and collective contributions to our celebratory poems! Thanks to Lizarett Flavour for curating the chaos into a beautiful verse. Find the original on her site. Thank you to Ananya Garg for your poetic contribution as well. Both are below.


At The Hour’s Top
(Garden of Quiet)
Collab #1

In the Garden of Quiet, Garden of Thoughts,
There is no once and no when, only sloths.
The moment is here, the moment will rise:
Ten minutes no one here has to be wise.

First glance into silence, eternity lap,
A Moon in the swanlight – one way of the craft.
A flower of sunshine, a cloudless night,
Contagious soft glimmer we share inside.

Cool stars in the gyre, sky holds the breath,
Horizon’s so near, as close as thou let:
Immersing a guest in tranquility feast
That mind and body compose as we speak.

Earth’s flickering beauty in ball of realms, –
Embrace and descend into room when time comes.
Hats, jewels prepared, now set up your clock, –
At top of the hour, meet friends and your hopes.

March 2021, curated by Lizarett Flavour, UK


MIRACULOUS MIT@2:50

 MIT@2:50 is truly a blessing
 It empowers me to go ahead, blossoming and blooming
  
 It provides ten minutes of daily mindfulness
 Invoking optimism and thoughtfulness
  
 It kept me motivated in a period of uncertainty,
 Always filling me with joy and positivity
  
 Even now when the sun has risen,
 It is holding my hand, ready to empower and listen 
  
 Relaxing music and serene pictures,
 Makes me delighted and is my pretty little treasure
  
 Blooming flowers, lush green forests, incessant rain,
 These sceneries make me calm and soothe my brain
  
 Cheerful and happy faces in the sessions make my day,
 Always keeping anxiety and stress at bay
  
 After attending the sessions, I experience felicity and peace,
 I whole-heartedly wish that these sessions never cease.
  
 After 365 days of mindfulness, it has turned one,
 I hope it continues to help the community for many years to come! 

Ananya Garg, student and regular @2:50 participant, India

How might we make mindfulness the new ‘bio-break’?

painting of mindful gaze
photo creative commons: marion joy flickr.com:photos:24517884@N04

There is a decades-long surge in interest in mindfulness practices. For the last three generations since 1970, mentions of the word mindfulness in books have increased by 56 times (1). From the arts to business and sports to healthcare, mindful practices have been studied, documented, and promoted. Taking even just a few minutes of quiet reflection time each day has been cited to reduce stress, increase immune response, and even change brain structures to help mitigate the “reptilian” responses our physiology uses to react to a changing world. (2)

Frequency of words appearing in books scanned by Google Ngram Viewer

With interest and validation for these practices on the rise, why not add mindfulness to our agenda of daily “bio breaks?” Is mindfulness as essential as clean water, nourishing food, and trips to the bathroom to get us through our days? A growing body of evidence seems to suggest that it is. (3) (4) How might we make mindfulness into the new ‘bio-break’?

We may schedule our lunch breaks, take time for stretching between meetings, or end meetings early to make trips to the bathroom. What if we also reserve a scheduled time for mindful practice? The body uses sensation, pressure, and pain to remind us of the most obvious biological needs. Thirst and hunger might be the most persistent. Our joints and muscles let us know if we remain in one position for too long. And I am sure I am not the only one who has been stranded in a meeting vibrating in my seat because of the need to use the bathroom. 

But the feedback we get from our bodies that tells us to “take a breather” for our nervous systems is often more subtle. Chronic and unspecific “symptoms” arise when we don’t take the right kind of breaks from work or any other engaging activity. (5) It’s because of this subtlety that scheduling a mindful bio break could be the way to go. For some, even ten minutes a day in reacting with mindfulness can change the way we react to everything else. (6) 

Since March of 2020, MIT@2:50 has been meeting every day at 2:50 pm EST for ten minutes. All we do is simply sit quietly together. Started in reaction to acute stress at MIT, participants have just kept showing up both from the institute and from around the world. A few of them are now even starting a second instance of the daily meeting, launching in Finland at 2:50 pm EET every day. Participants have reported a host of benefits from the daily drop-in, as well as shared their strategies for treating it like a bio-break.

Strategies for mindfulness bio breaks

Some participants join right at 2:50 pm using a phone alarm or calendar entry to remind them of the start time. Others have reserved the thirty minutes from the bottom of the hour to the top, using the last ten quiet minutes to reflect and recharge. Happening squarely in the middle of the afternoon, and not “off-hours”, @2:50 makes its own proclamation of self-importance. By prioritizing reflection time with the same status as watercooler, lunch counter, or toilet time, participants get buy-in from their families, their colleagues, or their supervisors. Participants have said they just let their 3:00 pm meeting hosts know that they might be a minute or two late, and no one appears to have been the worse off for it. On the contrary, after repeating this practice regularly many have reported that it changes the whole rest of their days for the better. 

Taking a regular mindful break has proven benefits that may also strengthen our resolve to allow time for our other biological needs and to take rest and recharge. We may begin to better recognize subtle biological signs of stress or fatigue. This could improve life for the individual, the team, the family, or for an organization as a whole. Author after author continues to expand on the benefits of even ten minutes of mindfulness each day. From building focus and resolve to activating the newly discovered elasticity in our brains, a few minutes of reflection seems to do the trick. (7) The results are in. This works.

So, the next time you find yourself running to the kitchen to make a lunch before your next meeting in nine minutes, or hovering at your workspace because the thoughts or words just aren’t flowing, maybe reserve a regular ten minutes on the calendar to make space for a breather. (8)

  1. Google Books Ngram Viewer for mindfulness, meditation, yoga
  2. The Biology of Mindfulness and Mindlessness — A Neuroscientist’s Perspective 
  3. The Mindfulness Manifesto (book)
  4. Take a break! Benefits of sleep and short breaks
  5. Science Says You Have to Stop Taking Breaks Wrong
  6. Spending 10 Minutes a Day on Mindfulness Subtly Changes the Way You React to Everything
  7. What Does Mindfulness Meditation Do to Your Brain?
  8. Study Shows Correlation Between Employee Engagement And The Long-Lost Lunch Break

Recipes from @2:50 baking day

To celebrate the 250th consecutive @2:50 participants suggested a baking day. Here are the recipes created and shared virtually throughout the weekend of the 250th.

Claudia’s celebration cake photographed from her Miami balcony!

Hawaiian Haupia (Coconut Pudding)

Mini Ginger Snaps Sorghum and Brown Sugar

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (open incognito)

Mrs. Field’s Pumpkin Harvest Cookies (pdf download)

The Perfect Happiness Cookies (pdf download)

Drop Dead! Pecan Spice Cookies from Betty Fussell

Classic Victoria Sandwich Recipe

Experiential MIT@2:50 ten-minute daily mindfulness convenes for 250th consecutive day

The daily event has brought together people from every continent for over 88,000 person/minutes of quiet reflection

MIT@2:50 was initiated on 12 March 2020 as a temporary reaction to growing anxiety surrounding the pandemic. The daily mindful reflection period was shared widely within MIT and across the globe to become a daily staple for participants and viewers ranging in age from their teens to their 70s and from all walks of life. Monday 16 Nov marks the 250th consecutive day that the group meets at 2:50 pm eastern time. Each day, participants and viewers begin to show up around 2:45. Returning participants greet each other and welcome new joiners. At 2:49 guests are invited to participate in a way that suits them best from a handful of suggested mindfulness practices. From 2:50 to 3:00 pm every day, everyone sits quietly together. Quiet music, nature scenes, and participant panels play on the screen for those who wish to watch. At the top of the hour, participants may leave to resume their days or sometimes remain talk for a while.

Read: Four insights from 250 days MIT@2:50

The @2:50 practice has become a regular part of the day for a core group that keeps the momentum going. A rotating population of participants and viewers come and go over time. To date, the group has held over 88,000 person/minutes of silent reflection. Participants claim, “Living alone, MIT’s @2:50 has eased the pandemic & given me a community to greet each day.” Or, “I come away feeling like a complete human being: accepted, seen, and appreciated–not for what I can do but for just being.” MIT@2:50 convenes every day https://at250.mit.edu and https://at250.org 

For more information contact Arthur Grau agrau (at) mit (dot) edu


Image of a sample day with panelists on screen. Webinar viewers outnumber panelists but are not pictured on the screen.