Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and Meditation
October 26, 2020

Mindfulness and Meditation

As we arrive into the second half of the semester, some students may be experiencing stress and anxiety. This is a natural response. We are all trying to balance our home life, our work life, and our academic life. For some, conditions may not be so good or easy. Perhaps you have to many roommates for studying or perhaps you are finding it difficult to pay the rent and put food on the table or perhaps the internet just isn’t good enough to login to Canvas or Zoom. Each of us is likely experiencing some kind of challenge and this can lead to stress and anxiety.

One solution some people have discovered is mindfulness and meditation. It doesn’t take away the problems but can help ease the experience. At least that has been my experience. My friends at Plum Village have offered some instruction that we can all benefit from.

Here’s what they have to share:

Mindfulness can be for everyone! We work toward bringing mindfulness into our daily activities—such as when you’re eating, listening, walking, or even teaching. Mindfulness of our body, in particular breathing, is the foundation that we can build upon to become more aware of what is going on inside of ourselves no matter where you are or what you’re doing. In the end, mindfulness is something we can incorporate into our lives and continue to grow and learn more within our life, work, and relationships.

You may have heard mindfulness and meditation used interchangeably, but there is an important difference between mindfulness and meditation. 

  • Mindfulness is about bringing our attention to the here and now in order to be fully present and aware in the moment.
  • Meditation comes from a Sanskrit term bhavana meaning “cultivation” or “development.” It refers to the practice of cultivating positive habits like mindfulness, compassion, and understanding.

The two practices work together harmoniously. For example, you can use mindfulness to become more aware in your meditation practice—like being mindful of how many times your thoughts drift to your to-do list during meditation. Likewise, practicing meditation can be a great way to build your capacity to be mindful. 

Breath is a basic yet powerful tool—regardless of where you are or how you’re feeling, your breath is always with you. That makes it an ideal anchor for your mind whenever you feel carried away, lost in deep emotion, or scattered with worry. You can always restore your calm by returning to your breath.

You can do it quickly and easily at any time of day to help reduce stress. It takes just a minute or two to recenter yourself during your daily activities (think: your commute to work, waiting in line, or riding the elevator).

Why Your Breath Is so Important

We each have a body but as we navigate our daily lives, our mind can often go in many different directions. The breath is something that we carry with us and can be used to reconnect our mind with our body. This allows us to slow down and to be more present in the moment. Being aware of the breath offers direct feedback to you about your mind and body.

Your Breath Is Your Anchor

What can we learn from our breath? Upon initial investigation, you may find that your breathing is deep or shallow, labored or relaxed. Simply noticing this is mindfulness of the breath. It can be a fun exercise if you enter with some curiosity and openness. When you can focus on your breathing, your mind becomes more relaxed and you may move from short to long breaths or labored to relaxed breathing.

Ready to give it a try? Here’s a 10-minute recording to guide you in a meditation. And if you are interested in trying more, give the Plum Village App or Calm App a try.