Mindfulness Isn't Just Trendy, It's a Powerful Tool

What could we do with a little more peace of mind?

Mindfulness Isn't Just Trendy, It's a Powerful Tool

For years now, meditation and mindfulness practices have been hot in the Western world. There are mindfulness exercises for work, for kids, for inmates. Really for any subset of people you can think of — there is a mindfulness practice out there. Everyone wants to know how they can use mindfulness to slow down yet stay productive.


All in all, mindfulness is pretty popular. But we have to realize that it is more than just a fad to hop aboard. Mindfulness is actually a powerful tool that can alter our fundamental brain patterns and help us deal with intense life situations.


We all know what it feels like to fly off the handle when we get really angry with someone, or to want to run away from an emotionally painful situation. Learning how to handle these volatile situations isn’t usually something we learn in school. Often it seems more like trial and error to figure out how to get through challenging moments like these.

But experts say that mindfulness is a critical tool for navigating the intense times in our lives. Fear is a strong biological response to stress, triggered by the release of hormones from the amygdala in the brain. And there are clear bodily reactions to this hormone rush, such as tightening of our limbs, and the inability to remember the good things about the people that we’re in conflict with.

Those who study mindfulness say that simple breathing exercises can help us come back to the present moment and short-circuit the fear response that our brains are drumming into our bodies. Mindfulness is key to toxic-stress reduction for executives and many others with high-pressure lifestyles. Perhaps we can all learn to use mindfulness as the clear tool that it is.


Image Credit: Gustavo Frazao via Shutterstock

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Stefani is a writer and urban planner based in Oakland, CA. She holds a master’s in City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s in Human Biology from Stanford University. In her free time, she is often found reading diverse literature, writing stories, or enjoying the outdoors. Follow her on Twitter: @stefanicox

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Volcanoes to power bitcoin mining in El Salvador

The first nation to make bitcoin legal tender will use geothermal energy to mine it.

Credit: Aaron Thomas via Unsplash
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

In June 2021, El Salvador became the first nation in the world to make bitcoin legal tender. Soon after, President Nayib Bukele instructed a state-owned power company to provide bitcoin mining facilities with cheap, clean energy — harnessed from the country's volcanoes.

The challenge: Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, a digital form of money and a payment system. Crypto has several advantages over physical dollars and cents — it's incredibly difficult to counterfeit, and transactions are more secure — but it also has a major downside.

Crypto transactions are recorded and new coins are added into circulation through a process called mining.

Crypto mining involves computers solving incredibly difficult mathematical puzzles. It is also incredibly energy-intensive — Cambridge University researchers estimate that bitcoin mining alone consumes more electricity every year than Argentina.

Most of that electricity is generated by carbon-emitting fossil fuels. As it stands, bitcoin mining produces an estimated 36.95 megatons of CO2 annually.

A world first: On June 9, El Salvador became the first nation to make bitcoin legal tender, meaning businesses have to accept it as payment and citizens can use it to pay taxes.

Less than a day later, Bukele tweeted that he'd instructed a state-owned geothermal electric company to put together a plan to provide bitcoin mining facilities with "very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable, 0 emissions energy."

Geothermal electricity is produced by capturing heat from the Earth itself. In El Salvador, that heat comes from volcanoes, and an estimated two-thirds of their energy potential is currently untapped.

Why it matters: El Salvador's decision to make bitcoin legal tender could be a win for both the crypto and the nation itself.

"(W)hat it does for bitcoin is further legitimizes its status as a potential reserve asset for sovereign and super sovereign entities," Greg King, CEO of crypto asset management firm Osprey Funds, told CBS News of the legislation.

Meanwhile, El Salvador is one of the poorest nations in North America, and bitcoin miners — the people who own and operate the computers doing the mining — receive bitcoins as a reward for their efforts.

"This is going to evolve fast!"
NAYIB BUKELE

If El Salvador begins operating bitcoin mining facilities powered by clean, cheap geothermal energy, it could become a global hub for mining — and receive a much-needed economic boost in the process.

The next steps: It remains to be seen whether Salvadorans will fully embrace bitcoin — which is notoriously volatile — or continue business-as-usual with the nation's other legal tender, the U.S. dollar.

Only time will tell if Bukele's plan for volcano-powered bitcoin mining facilities comes to fruition, too — but based on the speed of things so far, we won't have to wait long to find out.

Less than three hours after tweeting about the idea, Bukele followed up with another tweet claiming that the nation's geothermal energy company had already dug a new well and was designing a "mining hub" around it.

"This is going to evolve fast!" the president promised.

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How Pfizer and BioNTech made history with their vaccine
Sponsored by Pfizer
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