Not Graduation, but Commencements – kein Abschluss, sondern ein neuer Anfang

Last Friday my PhD (Business) graduation  took place. The PhD graduation ceremony in Trinity College is called commencements, to indicate that the completion of the studies is not the end, but a new beginning. For me it certainly is a new beginning. Beside my service operations manager role in Trinity I now teach undergraduate students in Fundamentals of Management and Organisation. I thoroughly enjoy this additional role, as I can talk  about my experience of being a manager and give examples of the relevance of academic articles and textbooks. . Even though weather-wise it probably was the worst day of the year, cold, stormy and rain from all sides, nothing could dampen the joy of the day, the beginning of  a new journey!

Am letzten Freitag fand die Abschlussfeier meines betriebswirtschaflichen Doktor- Studiums statt. Die Promotionszeremonie am Trinity College heißt „Commencements“ oder Beginn, um anzuzeigen, dass der Abschluss des Studiums nicht das Ende, sondern ein Neubeginn ist. Für mich ist es sicherlich ein Neuanfang. Neben meiner Rolle als Service Operations Manager in Trinity unterrichte ich jetzt Studenten in Grundlagen des Managements und der Organisation. Ich freue mich sehr über diese zusätzliche Rolle, da ich über meine Erfahrungen als Manager sprechen und Beispiele für die Relevanz von wissenschaftlichen Artikeln und Lehrbüchern geben kann. Auch wenn es wetterbedingt wahrscheinlich der schlimmste Tag des Jahres war, kalt, stürmisch und Regen von allen Seiten, konnte nichts die Freude des Tages dämpfen, den Beginn einer neuen Reise!





My Way to Work – Mein Weg zur Arbeit

It is October and there are still a lot of tourists visiting Dublin city and Trinity College. So as the weather last week was dry and mild I took a few pictures on my way to work. At 7 am Dublin  was reasonably quite. I feel lucky to work where many people go on holidays.

Es ist Oktober und es gibt noch immer  viele Touristen, die Dublin und  Trinity College besuchen. Da das Wetter letzte Woche trocken und mild war, machte ich ein paar Bilder auf dem Weg zur Arbeit. Um 7 Uhr morgens war Dublin noch  ziemlich ruhig. Ich bin froh dort zu arbeiten, wo viele Leute Urlaub machen!

This Morning in Dublin – the Calm before the Storm +++ Heute Morgen in Dublin – die Ruhe for dem Sturm

As predicted the weather is changing! Storm Callum is on the way and if the weather forecast is correct we are in for some extreme weather! As my pictures show, this morning all looks still very peaceful – the calm before the storm.

Met Éireann , the national meteorological service, has issued a status orange weather warning for the storm, which will hit Ireland  tonight, bringing gales of up to 130km/h along coasts and the possibility of local flooding.


Wie vorhergesagt ändert sich das Wetter! Storm Callum ist auf dem Weg und wenn die Wettervorhersage richtig ist, werden wir sehr extremes Wetter bekommen! Heute Morgen sieht alles noch sehr friedlich aus – die Ruhe vor dem Sturm.

Met Éireann, der irische meteorologische Dienst, hat eine orangefarbene Wetterwarnung für den Sturm ausgegeben, der heute Abend Irland treffen, mit einer windgeschwindigkeit von bis zu 130 km/h  entlang der Küste. Lokale Überschwemmungen sind auch möglich.


The Yogi masters were right – breathing exercises can sharpen your mind

New research explains link between breath-focused meditation and brain health

It has long been claimed by Yogis and Buddhists that meditation and ancient breath-focused practices, such as pranayama, strengthen our ability to focus on tasks. A new study by researchers at Trinity College Dublin explains for the first time the neurophysiological link between breathing and attention.

Breath-focused meditation and yogic breathing practices have numerous known cognitive benefits, including increased ability to focus, decreased mind wandering, improved arousal levels, more positive emotions, decreased emotional reactivity, along with many others. To date, however, no direct neurophysiological link between respiration and cognition has been suggested.

The research shows for the first time that breathing – a key element of meditation and mindfulness practices – directly affects the levels of a natural chemical messenger in the brain called noradrenaline. This chemical messenger is released when we are challenged, curious, exercised, focused or emotionally aroused, and, if produced at the right levels, helps the brain grow new connections, like a brain fertiliser. The way we breathe, in other words, directly affects the chemistry of our brains in a way that can enhance our attention and improve our brain health.

The study, carried out by researchers at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity, found that participants who focused well while undertaking a task that demanded a lot of attention had greater synchronisation between their breathing patterns and their attention, than those who had poor focus. The authors believe that it may be possible to use breath-control practices to stabilise attention and boost brain health.

Michael Melnychuk, PhD candidate at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity, and lead author of the study, explained: “Practitioners of yoga have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind. In our study we looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity in a small area in the brainstem called the locus coeruleus, where noradrenaline is made. Noradrenaline is an all-purpose action system in the brain. When we are stressed we produce too much noradrenaline and we can’t focus. When we feel sluggish, we produce too little and again, we can’t focus. There is a sweet spot of noradrenaline in which our emotions, thinking and memory are much clearer.”

“This study has shown that as you breathe in locus coeruleus activity is increasing slightly, and as you breathe out it decreases. Put simply this means that our attention is influenced by our breath and that it rises and falls with the cycle of respiration. It is possible that by focusing on and regulating your breathing you can optimise your attention level and likewise, by focusing on your attention level, your breathing becomes more synchronised.”

The research provides deeper scientific understanding of the neurophysiological mechanisms which underlie ancient meditation practices. The findings were recently published in a paper entitled ‘Coupling of respiration and attention via the locus coeruleus: Effects of meditation and pranayama’ in the journal Psychophysiology. Further research could help with the development of non-pharmacological therapies for people with attention compromised conditions such as ADHD and traumatic brain injury and in supporting cognition in older people.

There are traditionally two types of breath-focused practices — those that emphasise focus on breathing (mindfulness), and those that require breathing to be controlled (deep breathing practices such as pranayama). In cases when a person’s attention is compromised, practices which emphasise concentration and focus, such as mindfulness, where the individual focuses on feeling the sensations of respiration but make no effort to control them, could possibly be most beneficial. In cases where a person’s level of arousal is the cause of poor attention, for example drowsiness while driving, a pounding heart during an exam, or during a panic attack, it should be possible to alter the level of arousal in the body by controlling breathing. Both of these techniques have been shown to be effective in both the short and the long term.

Ian Robertson, Co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity and Principal Investigator of the study added: “Yogis and Buddhist practitioners have long considered the breath an especially suitable object for meditation. It is believed that by observing the breath, and regulating it in precise ways—a practice known as pranayama—changes in arousal, attention, and emotional control that can be of great benefit to the meditator are realised. Our research finds that there is evidence to support the view that there is a strong connection between breath-centred practices and a steadiness of mind.”

“Our findings could have particular implications for research into brain ageing. Brains typically lose mass as they age, but less so in the brains of long term meditators. More ‘youthful’ brains have a reduced risk of dementia and mindfulness meditation techniques actually strengthen brain networks. Our research offers one possible reason for this – using our breath to control one of the brain’s natural chemical messengers, noradrenaline, which in the right ‘dose’ helps the brain grow new connections between cells. This study provides one more reason for everyone to boost the health of their brain using a whole range of activities ranging from aerobic exercise to mindfulness meditation.”

Reference:   Melnychuk, M.C., Dockree, P.M, O’Connell, R.G,  Murphy, P.R, Balsters, J.H,  Robertson, I.H. (2018). Coupling of respiration and attention via the locus coeruleus: Effects of meditation and pranayama, Psychophysiology,

Source: Trinity News

Last Week in Trinity – Letzte Woche in Trinity

Spring is finally here! I just took a few pictures on my way to work last week. I feel lucky to see these beautiful trees and building in the centre of Dublin,  every morning.

Der Frühling ist endlich da! Letzte Woche habe ich ein paar Bilder auf dem Weg zur Arbeit gemacht. Ich freue mich, jeden Morgen diese schönen Bäume und Gebäude im Zentrum von Dublin zu sehen.

This Morning in Dublin – Heute Morgen in Dublin

20180209_085400After receiving so many positive comments about my Malahide sunrise blog I thought I’ll post a picture on a Dublin sunrise. I took the first picture this morning,  crossing the River Liffey on the Talbot Memorial Bridge. The second picture I took in my place of work and study, Trinity College.

Nachdem ich so viele positive Kommentare über meinen Malahide-Sonnenaufgang-Blog erhalten hatte, dachte ich, ich werde ein paar Fotos von einem Sonnenaufgang in Dublin zeigen. Das erste Foto habe ich heute Morgen aufgenommen, als  ich die Liffey auf der Talbot Memorial Bridge überquerte. Das zweite Bild, machte ich an meinem Arbeits- und Studierplatz,  Trinity College.