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How I changed my life in 60 minutes

illustration of person in meditative sitting pose

Mindful Meditation

I’m all for trying new things and stepping out of our self-designed bubbles, but that’s the thing with ‘self-design’, even when we try new things it is within a certain category. It will usually be things that we’ve wanted to try out for a while – stuff we’re somewhat okay with – or it might be something we’ve been peer-pressured into doing. Last week was a little different for me. With an open mind, I stepped out even further, and tried out…meditation. Just like some of you, when I hear the word ‘meditation’ I think hippy, I think yoga poses and serene landscapes. I think of something I don’t fully understand. Or didn’t. What I’m trying to say is that when I walked into that one hour workshop, I wasn’t expecting to come out feeling like a different person.

So just to give you a little background, there are these Mindful Meditation workshops offered at U of T to help us better our mental health. It’s like going to the gym for our brains. They do things like yoga and tai chi along with meditation. When I first stumbled upon their website, I wasn’t too sure about it – seeing words like “calm, confident, and collected” seemed too vague. I thought, Using meditation to deal with anxiety and stress? Nahh that’s what ice cream is for. I guess I was doubtful and biased because of the socially-constructed impression given off in the media.

large blue banner of mindful moments in Wilson Hall, New College

The drop in session I went to was held in Wilson Hall. As I walked into the building and towards the room, I was actually sort of nervous and fidgety. I can’t give you the full details of what exactly we did because I think it’s something you just need to experience rather than be told about. All I know is I walked out feeling completely different. More collected. More confident. More appreciative. More robust to stressful moments. I could even feel my body language change as I made my way to class. It wasn’t just a mental state of calmness. It was much more. Mindful Meditation is defined as a way to be fully aware of the present, of your thoughts, your being – without being judgmental. It’s not just about completely zoning out into another world, it’s actually the opposite. It’s focusing on yourself while remaining neutral about everything else surrounding you, internally or externally. All the noises and thoughts that creep up and surround you just seem static – I should mention that there was construction work going on right outside the window and it didn’t even matter. The worries of your past, your future, about that exam, that friend, whatever it was, didn’t seem to bother you in this state and all it took was a little breathing. I didn’t even know I was meditating until it was over. It was amazing.

The majority of the successful people I’ve come across all have said that they have some form of meditative practices, whether through traditional means, prayers, mantras, or something else. So, what I learned was this doesn’t need to be these guided meditation routines with exact steps you need to follow in order for it to work. We each have our own set of ways to not just practice mindful meditation, but be mindful in our daily life. It is not about trying to create a set of beliefs, rather it is about connectedness, and how that is achieved differs from person to person.