Mindfulness is a term that has gained popularity in both the mental and physical health fields, but what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is our ability to be fully present, aware of our surroundings, aware of our actions and feelings, and reacting to how we are and what is going on around us. Though the definition of mindfulness may seem simple or straightforward, the act of being aware of the present can be a difficult and unfamiliar task for students as students are working towards their futures while in college.
Mindfulness has been shown to assist in stress reduction, improve memory, improve focus, encourage cognitive flexibility, reduce emotional reactivity, and improve relationship satisfaction.
When it comes to practicing mindfulness, we can incorporate practice every day.
- Incorporate into routine activities. Try bringing awareness to the daily activities you usually do on autopilot
- Right after you wake up. If you need coffee to start your day, practice after your first cup.
- Let your mind wander. An active brain is a healthy brain. Allow your mind to wander without judgement.
- Keep it short and simple. Several times a day times can be more beneficial than a lengthy session or even a weekend retreat.
- Practice mindfulness while you wait. Waiting in line? Waiting for class to start? Take a moment to be mindful as waiting can be stress inducing.
- Have a reminder to be mindful. Weather it is a cup of coffee or a certain window or doorway, think of a cue or prompt you encounter every day to remember to practice mindfulness.
- Learn to meditate. Mindfulness can be almost like learning a new language. Seeking out a meditation class can provide social support as well as promote more active mindfulness.
Our Suicide Prevention Intern, Zeinab Hourani, had the opportunity to interview Randie Kruman, who is the director of Student Disability Services at Wayne State University as well as a KORU Mindfulness and Meditation instructor.
When it comes to mindfulness and meditation, Ms. Kruman explains that mindfulness and mediation can be a journey, and we should “accept the way you are, and it’s not good of bad. It just takes some work. It’s just like if I asked someone to pick up a 50-pound weight that would be hard. But they may be able to pick up a 5-pound weight and stay with it for two breaths, three breaths. That’s okay. Start small.”
Just like any new endeavor or task, small steps are the first, important steps to take. Take time to be mindful today to influence a healthier tomorrow.