Why mindfulness and meditation? As a young adult navigating college and life, things can get unbelievably stressful. Life’s stresses never seem to reduce, (in fact they grow) as we get older. However, learning how to manage stress can help bring balance and avoid the physical and psychological side effects stress causes. Mindfulness is a concept, a way of thinking, that is proven to help reduce stress. Meditation is a practice that helps to better embrace a mindful way of thinking.
What does it mean to be mindful? To be mindful includes many techniques in your daily life such as; a sense of what matters most to you, an ability to separate action from an emotion, to develop an “observing mind” that can notice and evaluate the mind entering a certain state, and cultivating a way of observing yourself without judging yourself i.e. tuning into what your feeling and being friendly towards it. Mindfulness is being present and aware of what you’re feeling which can then help you better control and mange those emotions. Studying online, taking a class, or learning from a peer is a great way to learn about and how to be mindful. It takes time and practice, but the results can be transforming.
How do I meditate? The best advice I can give is to join a group or class to at least create a structure to try and maintain a repeated practice for yourself. If meditating in a group is too stressful, then there are videos online or guided practice apps for your phone. I recommend keeping a meditation journal where you reflect on your experience to allow for creative and expressive thoughts. An entry in your journal might be a poem or a drawing of an image that recreates how you felt during your practice. Practicing about ten minutes three days a week to start will help create a regular practice. The general process of meditating includes; (1) sitting in a comfortable position, (2) Becoming in tune with your body, i.e. feeling your feet on the ground, relaxing your shoulders way from your ears, and focusing your mind on any area of discomfort and adjusting, (3) Begin focusing on your breathing, slow it down and take a few deep breaths to help relieve pressure. (4) There are a variety of techniques to help focus the mind, like counting to ten then restarting, the main concept is to be aware and in tune. Writing in a journal afterwards will help you keep track of how your mind wanders.
What are the Benefits? Every individual gains a different variety of benefits from mindfulness and meditation depending on their level of commitment and openness. Some examples are:
- Reduced stress
- Emotional balance
- Reduced blood pressure
- Calmed heart rate and regulated breathing
- Pain management
- Decease in fatigue
- Decrease in insomnia
- Inner-connectedness of mind and body
Contributed by Leigha Russel, Education and Life Skills Coach at Northwest College Support- Moscow Branch