First of all, this may seem like a large claim, but I am completely serious by it. Mindfulness utilizes deep breathing techniques and focused attention to aid in awareness and clarity. It has characteristics that involve living in the present moment, being nonjudgmental, and being open and accepting to experience. These qualities are wildly beneficial and have certainly changed my life for the better. Not only that, but they helped me out in a pinnacle point of my college career.
A few years ago, I was the kind of person who would get really stressed out really quickly. I had a lot of social anxieties and would even cower at the thought of having to make a phone call. Add those personality characteristics to a rapid changing environment, stringent time constraints, and high test demand, and you have a recipe for a text book meltdown. Sure there are many different types of coping mechanisms like exercise, music, or binge drinking, but not too many of those enact an entire perspective shift like mindfulness does, and to be honest, applying mindfulness to those can actually improve the outcome of them, depending on your goals of course. But that is what it did for me with school.
I was starting up my junior year at this time. It was already arguably my most difficult year with workload, and then monetary issues didn’t make it any easier, so I was very stressed. It was around that time that I learned of mindfulness. Never having heard of it before, I was very curious. As a typical undergrad, I did some research and began the practice. For 10-20 minutes per day I would do deep breathing. I would focus on a very minor sensory observation and then slowly branch my focus outward; the feeling of each breath in and out, or the sound of inhaling and exhaling. Any simple observation that can occupy your mind and while it’s happening in the present moment is fine. Then, you slowly branch out beyond yourself. The sounds of the wind, or cars outside. It’s all about attaining awareness for yourself, your feelings and emotions, and the world around you.
What this did for me was it kept me grounded and relaxed. Beforehand, I would think about all the assignments I had to do, and the different tests coming up, and the time that I lack to complete them while also trying to get to work, the gym, to clubs, and to other activities. I would ruminate about these while secluding myself into a social bubble. Then I realized; doing that will only take away from mental energy that could be applied to solving each problem AS they arise.
Excessively worrying about the past or future events (ones that haven’t even occurred yet) involves thinking negatively. If you are thinking negatively, than you will be probably be more attentive to negative outcomes. It becomes self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, a friend of mine just recently bought a Mini-Cooper. Afterward, he said he began noticing a lot more Mini-Coopers around. This is because his focus was being applied to his new change. His focus was on his car; therefore he was more attentive to Mini-Coopers. They’ve always been around; he just didn’t notice them because he wasn’t AWARE of them. If you close your eyes and think about the color red, open them and you will probably notice things that are red more quickly than anything else. That is the power of applied focus.
It is all about staying present. If you don’t believe me, than that is fine, it’s all about finding something that works for you. Everybody is different, but think about it like this. There are a few basic needs necessary to the survival of a person: food, sleep, water, and air. You can survive for possibly a few weeks without food, many days without sleep, and a few days without water. Breathing, however, is constant. You can only survive a few minutes without air. That’s how important it is. So if you can take a few minutes every day to not only intensely focus on it, but to associate it with positive outcome, betterment, problem solving, whatever it takes, than that’s an association that will subconsciously be on your mind at all times without you realizing it, and that is why I say mindfulness is a perspective shift. Since implementing it into my life, I have become more focused, optimistic, more understanding, and definitely more open. Just remember, if all else fails or if things become difficult and you find your mind becoming cluttered, JUST BREATHE.
Tomorrow’s topic: How one quote changed everything. Follow along tomorrow to find out what the quote is.
Thanks and peace out.