Mindfulness is a big buzzword at the moment. Everywhere you look people are reading mindfulness books on their commute, on holiday, on the weekends and even talking about it, seemingly, at every opportunity. But what is it?
The basic definition of mindfulness is the “state of being conscious or aware of something.” Sounds simple? Well it’s not that easy to obtain, actually. It takes practice and you need to train yourself in how to be mindful.
But before we get onto that, why do we even want to be mindful? It helps with stress, concentration, focus, awareness, creativity and composure. It’s a life skill that will see you through challenging times. Mindfulness is used by business people, the police and even taught in schools from preschool these days.
From the point of view of a student it can help get through the negative feelings you may encounter while studying. It could be coursework piling up, tight essay deadlines, comparing yourself to others, exam stress, future career worries or just general feelings of anxiety.
How to Obtain Mindfulness?
One of the main goals is to try to obtain non-judgemental thoughts about yourself. You need to live in the moment but not in a reckless, frantic way. The best technique to realise where you are right now and not compare yourself to others is to use meditation. Through meditation you will aim to not get trapped in negative thoughts and focus your attention on what you need without distraction. A good mantra to have is the 90-10 rule: this is the outlook that 10% of how we do in life is what has happened to us and 90% is how we respond to it.
When you’re studying, worry can be debilitating and a cause of stress. Meditation can help you not to worry about what happened yesterday and what might happen in the future. It can focus your attention on the now – what you do have control over. When we say ‘live in the moment’ that doesn’t mean that you don’t have an ultimate goal. Goals are essential to a happy fulfilled life.
Inspirational Mindfulness Quotes to Motivate You
“In the end, just three things matter: How well we have lived, how well we have loved and how well we have learned to let go” - Jack Kornfield
“Life is a dance. Mindfulness is witnessing that dance.” - Amit Ray, Mindfulness: Living in the Moment - Living in the Breath
“You might be tempted to avoid the messiness of daily living for the tranquillity of stillness and peacefulness. This of course would be an attachment to stillness, and like any strong attachment, it leads to delusion. It arrests development and short-circuits the cultivation of wisdom.” - Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
So that was some of the basic theory behind mindfulness, here is how you get started…
How to Meditate?
1. Find the right environment
Now this is just for beginners. Once you’ve mastered the art of mindfulness through meditation you’ll be able to do it almost anywhere – while brushing your teeth and during daily chores for instance.
2. Get comfortable
Choose a place where you’re at peace; you can dim the lighting, light a scented candle, sit on the floor, bed, chair or just wherever you’re most comfortable. You don’t have to be in the Lotus Position, just choose a position where you won’t fidget.
3. Set time aside
It’s no use trying to meditate if you either have interruptions from family members needing you or when you’re tired. Try to set specific time aside; treat it like your time, a treat. Start with 5-10 minutes each day and you can, if needed, work up from this.
4. Settle your mind and start to meditate
Be strong, be involved in the meditation and mean for it to be productive.
5. Concentrate on your breathing
This involves placing all your focus on air passing through your body and what your body is doing to inhale and exhale. Remind yourself that you have control over what thoughts and emotions you choose to engage. Let negative thoughts go – this is the difficult part – and concentrate on positive ones.
Don’t allow distractions to creep in
If you are distracted by noises or wandering thoughts, return to your breathing.
Barriers to Mindfulness Practice
These are the common excuses for not starting mindfulness or stopping your journey. Remember these are just that: excuses. You feel the following…
It takes patience to be able to train yourself to think differently. The mindful journey can be difficult to start with, but stick with it and adapt meditation methods so they work for you, and help you focus on your studies free of anxiety and stress.
Mindfulness Resources to Check Out
If you find this useful why not check out our blog post on a few of the best alternative therapy courses.