What is mindfulness?
As students and young people with busy lives, our minds are always racing. We think about assignments, tests, exams, extracurricular activities, our personal lives, friendships, relationships, work. A large portion of our time is spent stressing about the past or worrying about the future rather than living in the present moment and focusing on what you are doing and how you are feeling. Mindfulness is about experiencing the world in the present moment. It’s the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the ‘here and now’.
There are five core features of mindfulness:
This aspect of mindfulness involves observing your experience in a way that is direct and sensual (sensing mode) rather than being analytical (thinking mode). Mindfulness aims to shift the focus away from thinking to observing thoughts, feelings, and sensations.
This feature of mindfulness refers to noticing the fine details of what you are observing and describing it. For example, describing your emotions in a given moment as heavy and tense.
Another aim of mindfulness is to allow yourself to consider the whole of your experience, without excluding anything. Notice all aspects of what you are doing and do it with your full care and attention.
It is important to completely accept your experience in a non-judgmental way. Try to avoid evaluating experiences as good, bad, right, or wrong. Another part of being non-judgmental is to avoid attempting to control your experience.
The last core feature of mindfulness is to focus on one thing at a time. It’s natural for distracting thoughts to occur and for your mind to drift from sensing mode into thinking mode. Through mindfulness you are able to acknowledge that your mind is drifting and gently return to observing your experience.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
There are many benefits of mindfulness, such as:
-helping you become fully engaged in activities
-helping you build a greater capacity to deal with adverse events
-reducing stress and worrying
-assisting in the treatment of mental health issues like depression, substance abuse, eating disorders and anxiety disorders
How can I become more mindful?
There are two main approaches to mindfulness: formal and informal.
Practicing mindfulness in a formal setting is usually done through guided meditation sessions. Mindfulness sessions are usually held in a quiet room, and participants sit or lie on a soft mat. The facilitator will guide the session by instructing you to focus on different things such as your breath or the sensations in different parts of your body.
You can also practice mindfulness informally during regular daily experiences. For example, as you are walking, focus on the sensations of your feet hitting the ground. If you are outside, you can focus on the sound of the wind blowing through the trees or the sound of birds singing.
UOIT Student Mental Health Services is offering mindfulness sessions to all UOIT faculty, staff and students. The sessions will run every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the RBC Lounge (UB 1055) from 3:00pm to 3:30pm between May 17th and June 9th.