Sometimes, it feels like you are moving in slow motion and the world whizzes by at the speed of light. We as college students sometimes get stuck in the things we do and realize that we have been on autopilot for half a day. We forget to live in the moment and have gratitude for the things in our current surroundings. But how do we break this cycle of nothingness? How does one become more present in today’s life?
Mindfulness is defined by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally.” Kabat-Zinn is a professor of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and created a program called Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), that treats patients dealing with stress, anxiety, pain and other illnesses.
So how does one go about becoming more mindful? In my own personal experience, I have gain experience with this mindset through the help of the UNC Charlotte Center for Counseling and Psychological Services. By attending a weekly class devoted to this mindset I have been able to gain more knowledge that I can use for healthier coping mechanisms.
Starting off, know that the process can be hard. Most people who practice mindfulness deal with anxiety, depression, stress or chronic pain. The human mind is susceptible to wandering away from the task at hand or have so many things on our mind that nothing gets done, and for people with mental illnesses it can be even harder to stay on task. That’s where mindfulness comes in. Here are some techniques that are taught to new mindful seekers.
This technique is used to have the mind focused on the breath, feeling how it fills and releases from your lungs. Trying to focus only on the breathing helps to center your mind and ground your body to the moment in time where your body is in space. Trying this exercise for three to five minutes several times a week can help your mind and body become more present in the world and enjoy the environment around them.
A body scan is basically what it entails, scanning the body with the breath (as an anchor) pushing the breath mentally through specific parts of the body. This technique is used to help focus the mind on the physicality of the body and how it connects through the breath. For more information on this technique, visit https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7650123.
Mindfulness is also about making sure to be aware of all surroundings, and to be fully present. The process to a more mindful and grateful life is not easy but rewarding in the long run. It’s recommended to work toward your mindfulness goal every day but work at your own pace that fits with your schedule. For more information on the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services, visit https://caps.uncc.edu/. For even more information on living a better life, check out part two of this article, Meditation.