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Online Mind Wander

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Taking time to step away from the computer and encouraging people's minds to unfocus and wander with the help of "transformative mindset" prompts can help crystalize insights and prepare for synthesis and action.


Online meetings and work can take a toll both physically and mentally. This exercise diverges from the common exhortation to "focus harder" by encouraging participants to take a refreshing pause and allow their minds to wander. The Germans even have a saying for encouraging an idle mind: ‘die Seele baumeln lassen’, meaning ‘let the soul dangle.’ This process, especially when combined with aesthetic prompts can help participants re-connect to their values and motivations, as well as refreshing the mind and body for a transition from the exploring or ideation phases of a process to crystalizing concepts or strategies and moving towards action.


  1. Briefly explain the concept and benefits of mind-wandering;
  2. Tell participants that once the exercise starts, they should get up from their computers and either pace slowly around the room or just stand and move or stretch a bit however they like. The most important thing is not to focus on anything in particular - to let the mind rest and wander;
  3. Ask everyone to turn off their video (or some platforms allow the host to temporarily stop video feeds);
  4. Screen share an aesthetically beautiful video or piece of music, perhaps linked to your topic in someway;
  5. When participants return, to the meeting, ask them to share one word that comes to mind, in the chat or out loud in turns, depending on the size of the group.

Alternative: ask participants to go outside for for 2-5 minutes. When they return ask them to share one word about something they experienced through a sense other than sight.

Place on U
2-5 minutes
Materials Needed

A pre-chosen video, piece of music, or image to screen share (see our selection of videos for inspiration)

Surfacing Hidden Dynamics
Care & Empathy
Disruptive Practices
Sense of Place
Online Engagement
Tip and Experiences
  • Be explicit that this is not a time to check phones or emails
  • Warn people that they might feel slightly uncomfortable or restless when allowing the mind to relax, especially after such intensive periods of focus

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