Blog Topic: Mindfulness

Last week, I was simultaneously texting and walking to my next class, and I managed to run straight into a door that was swinging open. If the ensuing headache and embarrassment wasn’t punishment enough, my friend chastised me, saying, “Seriously? You’ve gotta be more present.”

As I move through my days, I’ve begun to realize how quickly we all can default to “autopilot” mode. I can’t remember the last time I’ve walked through campus and actively paid attention to my surroundings, without the help of my music or phone. We all lead such busy lives that it’s so difficult to take time out of our day and just…be.

We eat (relatively) healthy food to sustain our bodies, we try to exercise (as much as time permits) in order to be physically fit, but what active steps do we take during the day to focus on our mental health? Mindfulness is defined as paying attention, consciously, in the current moment. Sounds easy enough, right? Except…it’s easier said than done. Through the chaotic days of exams, homework, classes, and extra-curriculars, it’s easy to move through the day with less-than-full awareness of what we’re doing.

There are many benefits to being mindful, such as:

  • decreased stress response

  • improved immune system activity

  • increased ability to cope with anxiety and depression

  • ability to experience moments with clarity

And there’s good news! While it may sound intimidating and unachievable in our chaotic schedules, mindfulness can be achieved by anyone, anywhere. There’s no special “formula” to be the most mindful, no special yoga or exercises that universally achieves mindfulness (although yoga is a great way to de-stress and take time out of your day to relax and breathe, if that suits you!) – mindfulness is achieved….well - in the mind!

As you’re going about your day, try to take 5-10 minutes to unplug from technology and stimuli in your life, and simply observe your surroundings. If you’re walking to class, look around and breathe in the fall air. If you’re studying in your room, close your books briefly and just sit. I like to focus on my senses: what am I hearing, smelling, seeing, etc.? Be active in your observation of your surroundings, and take the time to appreciate all that is around you. Because with all of the stress of the outside world, we owe it to ourselves to take a break from it all, listen to our thoughts and pay attention to our minds and simply, be.