Posts Tagged ‘mind-body’

Finding Ecstasy in the Laundry

There’s no way around it. As a single mom, this time of year is chaotic! Last week my son turned 18 and competed in 5 days of intense swim meets. When I say intense, I mean leaving the house early in the morning with meals and snacks packed and not coming home until after 9 pm…while managing my business from an iPhone with spotty reception in a humid, loud, chlorine filled natatorium.

One mom next to me was ordering teacher gifts from her phone while grading papers of her own. Another was handling texts from multiple kids while consoling her daughter who hadn’t performed as she had hoped. And we were all cheering for each other’s kids.

By the end of the week I was exhausted and behind in everything. Despite my best intentions, I had not exercised or eaten as well as I had hoped. And I came home to piles of laundry, unanswered mail and an empty fridge.

Sound familiar?

I feel certain I’m not the only one who has weeks like this. So I thought I’d share a simple and surprising way I began to feel more balanced and calm right away.

My mind was racing, but as I pulled clothes out of the dryer and began to iron my son’s pants, I found myself silently saying prayers to the rhythm of the movement of my arm. “May you be confident and kind. May you stand strong for your convictions. May you enjoy this week. May you always know you are loved. May you remember everything for your finals…..”


Suddenly the chaos of the week faded into the background. I enjoyed finding new blessings to iron into each pair of pants and I began to feel peace, joy….even ecstasy!

You don’t have to go to church or a yoga class to pray. Peace can be found in everyday chores. (TWEET IT)

As you move through your normal routine over the next few weeks, see if you can find peace in the chaos….ecstasy in the ordinary. And when you do, please write and tell me about the ways you’ve done it. I would love to add them to my repertoire.

Wishing you joy,

Science and tools for sugar addictions

carb cravings

My dear friend, colleague and co-author, Dr. Karen Wolfe, is presenting a free webinar on “The Science of Low-Glycemic Eating and How to Reset Your Body”. Karen and I are both recovering sugar addicts.  As a physician, Karen does a brilliant job of teaching the science of sugar addiction as well as practical tools for breaking this habit.

If you struggle with carb cravings (not just sweets but ALL simple carbs) this webinar will open your eyes to why you are struggling and how to break free.

The Science of Low-Glycemic Eating and How to Rest Your Body

DATE – Wednesday , February 2, 2011

TIME 8:00pm- 9:00 PM  Central Standard Time (6pm Pacific and 9pm Eastern)

Register now by sending me an email:

Prepare for the Full Moon on the Winter Solstice

As a wellness practitioner in the 70’s my main focus was the body. Then in the 80’s the scientific literature made it clear that the physical body could not be separated from the mind. So my focus became mind and body. In the 90’s we began to understand more fully the impact of emotions and spirit on physical and mental well being, so my focus expanded to include mind, body, spirit and emotions.

By 2000 it became quite apparent that our personal well-being could not be separated from the planet’s well-being, so my focus expanded to include the environment. We have known for a very long time that sun and moon have a direct impact on the planet and on us. And now my understanding of the environment is expanding to include the relationship between other planets in our solar system and us.

The Full Moon

One of the ways we can begin to pay attention to the larger environment is to be aware of the cycles of the moon. On December 21st we will experience a Full Moon on the Winter Solstice (the longest night of the year.) This full moon is a special one because it is not only Winter Solstice, but also an eclipse.

I love preparing for this kind of occasion and enjoy creating meaningful rituals for my family to help us stay in tune with nature. Below is a beautiful and powerful process that I learned from Loy at

I wanted to share it with you, too. Hope you enjoy it.  If you find value in this process, share it with a friend.  I love reading your comments! Please share if and how you will implement this information.

Moon Goddess’s Profound Full Moon December 2010

Expect the December Full Moon to be most profound this year. The Moon Goddess transmits her most illuminating broadcast just a few minutes after midnight at 12:13 am, PST on December 21. Don’t fret if you are not a night owl and will not be up to greet her. You will begin to receive her transmissions twelve hours prior or just a few minutes after high noon at 12:13 pm on December the 20. You might even like to create a ritual or attend a full moon ceremony on the night of the 20th leading up to the Moon Goddess’s exact full moon time. Like always, you will be able to bask in the Moon Goddess’s Full Moon energies for a full 24 hour period, only ending 12 hours after her most illuminating moment. That transpires at 12:13  pm, PST on December 21st.

Full Moon Occurs on Day of Winter Solstice

You will surely want to prepare for this Full Moon, permitting the Moon Goddess’s energies to lead you right into your sixth sense. Just three hours after the Moon Goddess finishes sending her transmissions to awaken your extra sensory perception, the Winter Solstice occurs at 3:38 pm, PST. You want your consciousness most receptive, welcoming the Winter Solstice energy to shine its light into the darkness part of you. It reveals the light within you that can transform even your deepest sense of inadequacy. If you’ve prepared, you will fully appreciate why this occasion is called the time of Rebirth.

How to Prepare for Both Full Moon and Winter Solstice

As December 21 is both the Full Moon time and the Winter Solstice, you can prepare for both of them at the same time in the same way. There are two predominant energies being transmitted to us always, one is Love which pulls you in. That is where we get the saying, fall in love. Love energy pulls you into the inner realms. Will is the other predominant energy which is better understood as strength. This Will energy pushes us outward, to manifest, to move into action.

Use Love Energy to Prepare

You want to utilize Love or the pull-in energy to prepare you three days prior to New or Full Moon as well as the Equinoxes or Solstices. With this preparation, the Moon Goddess transmissions move you in even deeper into your sixth sense, where you can just know, there’s no mind involved.

Three Days Prior – Prepare Your Physical Body – December 18

You do not use your strength to pound the ground. Gentleness is the key. Prepare your physical body through soothing, loving movements to be receptive to the upcoming energies. A nice soothing bath, massage, chiropractic adjustment, a gentle flowing walk or stretching exercise, sauna or steam are all most appreciated by your body. Eat much lighter today. Setting the table with beautiful place mats, using your good china just for you even, and candle light will definitely get you in the mood for the next days ahead. There is no set right or wrong way, be as creative as you like just keeping in mind, you are having a love affair with your body today, giving it extra special attention awakening its receptivity, transforming any resistance.

Two Days Prior – Prime Your Emotional Nature – December 19

Acceptance is always what is needed if you want your emotions to be receptive to anything new. As the Moon Goddess brings us new energies each and every month, you will get your feelings to allow in these energies, if you develop a relationship between your emotional nature and the Full Moon today. Take her, your emotional nature, outside and walk under the moonlight or if it’s too cold, look out through the window and look at her beauty. Then talk to your emotional nature, tell her what’s beautiful about her also. And forgive her for any uneven or out of control emotions during this last month. And let her have a good cry if she’s been overwhelmed, it is very cleansing today.

One Day Before – Inspire Your Mind – December 20

You are now looking to focus your mind, get yourself ready to move into action, into the outer world. You want to pull in your mind, not hold it steady but start the unfolding, receptive part. Inspiring music is usually the best conductor to unlock any rigidity, any negativity. Again there is no right or wrong method, music or sound might not be what inspires you. It could be finding inspirational quotes, watching an inspirational movie, it matters not, but you want your mind inspired to receive the Full Moon energies. Praising your mind for its problem solving abilities, its ability to come up with plans is always good today.

New Moon, Full Moon or Solstice

As much as you can, be in silence and just receive. Any transmission that you can translate into words, do so and definitely write them down. Or maybe you will just doodle, draw circles or arrows which are helpful to then translate the energy into words. Try to feel the pull-in energy being transmitted by the Moon Goddess, and if you cannot, then “fake” it. In other words, create a fantasy where you are feeling, receiving which can often connect you, allowing you to truly receive. “Prime the pump” as they say.

Will Energy Takes Over

Once you have received the Moon Goddess’s energies, and this year the Winter Solstice energy as well, you then use Will or your strength to integrate and implement these energies.

First Day Afterward – Focus Your Mind – December 22

Now you can meditate, focus your mind. It is time to make plans, get clear on what you received. If for some reason your mind is a blank, you do not know what you received, then you can never go wrong, coming up with a plan of how to be more successful in your life for the next two weeks in your profession, how you support yourself. And if you have relationship challenges, come up with a plan how to resolve it.

Two Days Later – Rev Up Your Passion – December 23

Your emotions do the selling; create the passion for your mind’s plans so people will be receptive and buy. So rev up your passion today which is your charisma and shine on the plans you made yesterday for implementing this energy into your life in a positive way.

And since emotions are also about people, passionately let those meaningful people in your life know they are special to you today by telling them what you truly appreciate about them.

Three Days After – Time for Physical Action – December 24

Alright, it is time to start implementing, and you very well may need to use the virtue of discipline to get you started and keep you going. Now you can pound the ground, be as physically strong as you want to be. You have until the next New Moon to implement what you received this month.

The Moon Goddess and the Winter Solstice don’t have such a close relationship often, so take full advantage of their energies by preparing, receiving and implementing. Then you’ll have a tailwind of energies propelling you toward being successful in all your endeavors.

About the Author
Loy is an accomplished astrology researcher and practitioner; relationship specialist and published author. Sign up for her FREE Zodiac signs and forecasts newsletter. Use the monthly energies to enhance your relationships and daily life. Visit Loy at

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Leave a comment below with your plans for celebrating the Winter Solstice this year.

A Comparison of a Mind/Body Approach Versus a Conventional Approach to Aerobic Dance

by Deborah Kern and J. B. Baker

Women’s Health Issues, Vol 7, No.1 Jan/Feb 1997

This study compared the effect on women of using a mind/body approach in teaching aerobics classes versus a conventional approach on the following variables: general self-esteem, physical self-esteem, and state-trait anxiety. Sixty-eight female college students participated in the study. The experimental treatment group received a mind/body teaching approach based on the neuromuscular integrative action model while the standard treatment control group received a conventional teaching approach based on current aerobic dance instructional methods. An ANCOVA analysis of the data showed that the treatment group receiving a mind/body approach scored significantly lower on trait anxiety measures than the standard treatment control group which had received a conventional approach. Qualitative analysis of focus groups supported the finding that women in the mind/body approach group had improved their anxiety coping skills as a result of the mind/body aerobics class.

Over the past 15 years Americans have begun taking a more active interest in health than ever before. The physiological benefits of exercise are now well-documented and substantial evidence indicates that aerobic activity performed on a regular basis will aid in the reduction of risk factors that may lead to cardiovascular disease.1 Recently, however, a new emphasis is being placed on the psychological benefits of aerobic activity. Studies have found that not only does one’s physical health benefit from aerobic exercise, but also one’s mental health.2 Earlier anecdotal reports of post-exercise positive effects have been confirmed by numerous scientific investigations.3 Specifically, exercise appears to have a tranquilizing and antidepressant effect on participants.4

Due to the lack of research examining the psychological effects of different types of aerobic dance instruction, this study focused on the effects of two different teaching methods in aerobic dance classes on general self-esteem, physical self-esteem, and state-trait anxiety.

Background and Significance

Three centuries after Descartes, the sciences of medicine and health promotion are still based on “the notion of the body as a machine, of disease as the consequence of breakdown of the machine, and of the doctor’s task as repairer of the machine.”5 This paradigm has led to a prominence of “healthism” in the United States, a belief in which a physically fit body is equated with total health and wellness. Not only is a physically fit body considered the key criterion for health and wellness, it has become a moral imperative.6 Therefore, in their efforts to promote health, fitness professionals have focused on changing physical characteristics such as body fat percentage, weight, resting heart rate, and aerobic capacity.

By emphasizing physical goals, fitness programs teach individuals to value discipline, self- restraint, denial, and external control. This value system has led to the development of countless diet programs and books which espouse restrained eating, self-discipline, and a regimented eating style in order to achieve a desired physical state. It has also led to the increase in personal fitness trainers who are hired to design exercise programs and motivate their clients who seek desired physical outcomes. In the arena of aerobics classes, this value system has led to a teaching style in which the instructor leads the class in uniform movement, focusing on isolated parts of the body in order to achieve desired physical outcomes.7,8 There are many criticisms of this approach to health promotion: the increasing number of individuals who exercise excessively,9 the rising incidence of eating disorders10, and the promotion of a thinness standard of body attractiveness as a panacea for life’s difficulties.11

Aerobic Dance Instruction Guidelines

We followed aerobic dance instruction guidelines from The American Council on Exercise Aerobics Instructor Manual 12 and The Exer-Safety Association 13 when teaching the standard treatment control groups. For the experimental groups, we followed a mind/body approach based on Neuromuscular Integrative Action (NIA) that was designed specifically for the purpose of this study. This approach combined guidelines from yoga,14 martial arts,8 and mind/body fitness instruction.15

Mind/body Approach to Aerobic Dance Instruction

The mind/body approach as defined in this study is represented in the literature by Yoga, martial arts, and Mind/Body Fitness instruction. Yoga creates a mind/body connection by using awareness of the breath and concentration of the mind throughout the poses. Unlike the conventional instructional approach in aerobic dance class, participants are encouraged to move according to their own breathing patterns instead of to the beat of the music. Also, unlike the conventional instructional approach, there is not a list of contraindicated movements. Instead, participants are encouraged to move within their own comfort zone in order to prevent injury.14

In a mind/body approach, exercises are drawn from ancient disciplines such as yoga, tai chi, and aikido as well as from modern systems, such as Feldenkrais and Alexander techniques, and from dance movement therapy. Exercises in a mind/body class are not designed with specific body-centered objectives as found in the conventional aerobic dance guidelines. Instead, objectives include, but are not limited to, enhancing awareness of breathing, increasing ability to breathe, feeling the connection of feet to the ground, experiencing the interplay among the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of well-being, feeling powerful and feeling graceful.15

The aerobic portion of this type of class allows creativity and spontaneity to emerge in students. Instructors are encouraged to design choreography to inspire a sense of letting go, and to remember that students have individual rhythms. Therefore, choreography is simple in order to allow students to explore how the movement feels rather than just go through the motions. If possible, instructors are to have students turn away from the mirrors in order to help them feel the movements rather than watch them. It is more important in this type of class that students feel the movement rather than learn complicated steps.15


Population and Sample Selection

The population used for this study was female students, 18 years of age and older, enrolled in aerobics classes at Texas Woman’s University. From this population, a convenience sample of 77 subjects was recruited from four physical activity classes. Subjects in two classes were designated as the experimental group and subjects in the other two classes were designated as the standard control group. The 37 subjects in a standard control group were divided into two classes: one class of 18 and one class of 19 students. The 40 subjects in an experimental group were divided into two classes of 20 students each.


Both groups, two classes per group, participated in a one hour aerobics classes twice a week for seven weeks. Classes were canceled for two days during the treatment period due to weather conditions; therefore, the treatment consisted of 13 sessions. The same instructor taught the experimental group using a mind/body approach and the standard treatment control group with a conventional approach.


The following three instruments were used in this study: Field and Steinhardt’s Physical Self-Esteem Scale, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory . The Physical Self-Esteem Scale was developed by Field and Steinhardt.16 It is an 11-item scale constructed to measure physical self-esteem. Using data collected in this study, the alpha coefficients for the pretest and posttest were .87 and .91 respectively.

The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale was originally developed by Rosenberg.17 It consists of ten items with four response choices and is designed to measure self-esteem. A reliability analysis of Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale using data collected in this study produced satisfactory alpha coefficients in the pretest and posttest of .85 and .91 respectively.

The State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), developed by Speilberger, Gorsuch, and Lushene18 was used to measure the dependent variables, state and trait anxiety. The alpha coefficient calculated in this study for A-State was .93 in both the pretest and posttest. For the A- Trait scale, the alpha coefficient was .91 in both the pretest and posttest.

Treatment of the Data

Using pretest scores as covariates, ANCOVA was calculated to determine differences in posttest means. The level of significance used for all analyses was .05. Also, the effect of years of prior aerobic dance participation was used as a factor in an ANOVA analysis of the total pretest and posttest scores. In the two scores that were significantly affected by the number of years of aerobic dance participation, a post-hoc analysis using the Student-Newman-Keuls test was conducted to determine which groups were significantly different. For the purpose of this analysis, the participants were divided into three categories of participation level: 1) participants who had no prior aerobic dance experience, 2) participants who had one to two years of experience, and 3) participants who had more than two years of experience.

Focus groups were held at the end of the treatment phase. The tape-recorded content of the focus groups was analyzed by discerning prevailing themes in the discussions and counting the frequency of statements made per theme group.

Descriptive Characteristics of the Sample

The age of the participants in this study ranged from 18 to 51 years with a mean age of 22.2 years, a mode of 18 years, and a standard deviation of 5.89. The 31 participants who were assigned to the standard treatment control group had a mean age of 23.2 years with a standard deviation of 6.9, and the 37 participants assigned to the experimental treatment group had a mean age of 21.32 years with a standard deviation of 4.72.

Tests of the Hypotheses

ANCOVA analyses were conducted to compare the posttest scores of the two treatment groups using the pretest scores as covariates. The results showed no significant difference between group scores on physical self-esteem, general self-esteem or state anxiety. However, there was a statistically significant difference between group scores on trait anxiety.

In an ANOVA, it was determined that the pretest score means for trait anxiety of 46.13 for the standard treatment control group and 45.95 for the experimental treatment group were not significantly different, p>.05. However, an ANCOVA analysis found that the posttest score means of 47.29 for the standard treatment control group and 45.05 for the treatment group were significantly different, p< .05.

Focus Group Analysis

Following Krueger’s19 suggested format, a focus group was conducted at the end of the last class for each of the four classes. The standard treatment control focus groups had 14 and 15 volunteers respectively, representing 78% of the total group. There were 13 and 14 volunteers respectively in the experimental treatment focus groups representing 67% of the total group.

When asked how they felt right after this class, 71 percent of the standard treatment control group responses referred to physical conditions, such as being out of breath, tired, or hungry. Eighty-seven percent of the experimental treatment group responses dealt with emotional conditions, such as feeling awake, less stressed, relaxed, calm, uplifted and light. They also said they felt like they had more energy and strength, and felt more energized. All of the experimental group responses to the question, “How did you feel right after class?” were positive in nature.

When asked how participation in this class had affected other areas of their lives, the majority of the standard treatment control group’s answers, 75%, had a physical condition theme and were positive in nature. The responses included: “I slept better; I ate better; and I lost weight.” Of the responses that were emotional in nature, half were positive, such as “I felt good about myself for working out,” and half were negative, such as “I felt guilty if I ate bad food because I had worked out”. The experimental treatment group responses were evenly divided between positive physical statements and positive emotional statement. Their responses included: “during stressful times it has helped me to lengthen my body and breathe; I stretch when I feel stressed while working on the computer; I am able to concentrate in class better; I use the breathing when I get mad and it helps calm me down.”

When asked what feelings they experienced during this class, the majority of the standard treatment control group answers, 75%, dealt with emotional issues. Forty-four percent of the responses mentioned frustration. For instance, they expressed feeling “confusion; frustrated because I couldn’t keep up; stressed to keep up with everyone else; incompetent; uncoordinated; and struggling.” There were a few, however, who felt accomplished when they finally “got” the steps, and that the class was a release of frustration and aggression. Conversely, 77% of the experimental treatment group’s answers focused on feelings of “joy, hope, appreciation for my body, moving freely, rejuvenation, power, and grace.”

Aerobics instructors can learn from this study that when participants are encouraged to listen to their own mind and body signals, the movement in class can accomplish more than the physical goals of increasing aerobic capacity and burning body fat. Hopefully, aerobics instructors and health educators alike will be encouraged to learn teaching techniques that enable the participants in their classes to find direction from within themselves rather than from external sources.


Although studies have shown the positive effects of aerobic activity on psychological well- being, the literature fails to provide documentation of the effect of different styles of teaching aerobic activity on psychological variables. The analysis of the data in this study uncovered information regarding the effect of a mind/body teaching approach as compared to a conventional teaching approach on selected psychological variables.

General Self-Esteem

Although there were no significant changes in general self-esteem as a result of the seven- week exercise sessions, several studies have shown improvements in general self-esteem following exercise programs.20 These studies ranged in duration from 12 weeks to one year, as opposed to the study cited in this paper, which was seven weeks. This indicates that a seven week treatment period may not be sufficient to result in changes in self-esteem.

The post-hoc analysis of general self-esteem posttest scores showed a significant difference between the group of participants who had zero years of aerobic dance (mean = 23.33) and the group that had more than two years of experience (mean = 25.17). Because there were no significant differences in the pretest scores among these groups, the post-hoc analysis suggests that those with prior aerobic dance experience are more likely to improve general self-esteem as a result of involvement in aerobic dance than those without prior aerobic dance experience.

This finding is supported by Dishman 2 who stated that “it seems unlikely that all types, volume, and settings of exercise will affect all aspects of mental health for all people.” Also, we noted that the focus group members who made comments such as “I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t have had to come to class” and “I was frustrated because I couldn’t keep up” were those who had not participated in aerobic dance classes in the past.

Physical Self-Esteem

The analysis of Physical Self-Esteem posttest scores indicated no significant difference between the treatment and standard treatment control group. Considering the enormous social pressures for women to achieve unrealistic beauty standards, a 14-session intervention was probably not long enough to impact physical self-esteem attitudes, and perhaps only heightened body awareness.

Interestingly, the post-hoc analysis did show that there was a significant difference in the mean pretest scores for Physical Self-Esteem between the group with zero years of aerobic experience (mean = 30.93) and the groups with one to two (mean = 35) and more than two years (mean = 37.22) of aerobic dance experience. These results indicate a relationship between participation in aerobic dance and physical self-esteem, however, causality cannot be established.

State Anxiety

A review of the literature shows that aerobic exercise ranging in duration from eight weeks to one year positively affects state anxiety.21 Contrary to the procedure used in this study, the researchers in previous studies have measured the effect of aerobic activity on state anxiety by administering the pretest and posttest immediately following an exercise session. In this study, the tests were administered prior to an exercise session. Because the participants in this study were college students, state anxiety may have been impacted by the pressures of school. Many of the students had mid-term examinations on the day of the posttest administration. This could be the reason that there were no significant differences in posttest state anxiety scores.

Trait Anxiety

In this study, the Trait Anxiety posttest scores were significantly different, p< .05) between the treatment and standard treatment control groups. Both groups’ trait anxiety scores did not decrease, however. Instead, the standard treatment control group score increased while the treatment group score decreased.

Results from the focus groups support the findings in this analysis. Whereas members of the standard treatment control group stated that they felt “rushed” when class was over, “guilty” if they ate a fattening food, “stressed to keep up with everyone else”, the members of the treatment group stated that they felt “less stressed”, “relaxed”, and “calm” when class was over, and that they had learned to “use the breathing” techniques whenever they felt angry or stressed outside of class, and that they had learned to “let go” while participating in this class.


Berger and Owen22 compared the relative mood benefits of swimming and Hatha yoga and found that yoga participants focus inward to physical sensations in order to stretch their muscles as far as possible and yet avoid reaching a point of painfulness. Although yoga is not an aerobic activity, Berger and Owen23 found that both swimming and yoga were effective in reducing stress. They theorized that the fact that both activities facilitated abdominal breathing was the mechanism that helped lower stress in the groups.

The mind/body teaching approach used in this study also used abdominal breathing and emphasized tuning inward and moving in comfort. The focus group responses from the mind/body groups support the theory that abdominal breathing and noticing internal stress cues is helpful in reducing trait anxiety.

Based on the results in this study, recommendations can be made for health educators and aerobics instructors. Health educators should be aware that when they are teaching people to increase physical activity that some activities may be more conducive to helping people cope with stress more effectively in their lives, and other activities may actually add stress to their lives.

Recommendations for Further Study

On the basis of the data and findings presented in this study, the following recommendations for future study are made:

  1. Replicate the study using a larger and randomly selected sample in order to increase the power of the study.
  2. Replicate the study with a treatment duration of at least six months in order to increase the effect of the treatment.
  3. Replicate the study using other aerobic activities that are led by an instructor to determine if the results of this study can be generalized to other activities.

Implications for Health Educators and Aerobics Instructors

This study has several implications for health education in general, and fitness education in particular. Based on the results of this study, and fitness professional may wish to learn how to deliver mind/body aerobic dance programs, and health education professionals may wish to act as a resource in directing clients to these programs.

This study is the first quasi-experimental design research to compare a mind/body teaching approach in aerobic dance to a conventional approach. In this way, the results contribute to the literature which examines the relationship between aerobic activity and psychological variables. Furthermore, this study provides qualitative insight into the assumptions that aerobic activity improves psychological well-being by showing that the positive psychological effects may differ depending on the teaching approach that is used in the aerobic activity.


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