Midterms are in full swing and I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately. I’m constantly on the go with midterms, sports, problem sets, part-time work, club meetings and planning what to cook for dinner. I miss having a meal plan in times like these.
Last Fall, I attended a silent retreat by Mindful Moments. Thomas, a fourth-year cognitive science student facilitated one of the sessions. It was held during reading week and it reminded me to take it easy.
Why did you join Mindful Moments?
I’ve been able to step back from the chaos and check in with myself – instead of getting lost in the craziness. When I heard about U of T’s Mindful Moments’ initiative, it resonated with me. I had an opportunity to be a facilitator in helping students cultivate mindfulness. I believe that the practice of mindfulness has benefited me in many ways. My goal is to provide students with a chance to cultivate a practice that they will hopefully find useful as I did.
Do you practice every day?
The best thing about mindfulness is that you don’t have to be an expert or have a lot of spare time. All you need are a few moments. Currently, I practice for 15 minutes, twice a day – once immediately after waking up and again before bed. I do open monitoring meditation and loving-kindness meditation. During open monitoring, I ground myself, anchor my awareness on my breath and acknowledge the different thoughts, feelings and overall experiences that arise. During loving-kindness practices, I repeat three gratitude and compassionate phrases towards myself and extend it to people close to me and eventually everyone.
How can being more mindful bring us joy while at U of T?
When I first began, I kept practicing because of the short-term immediate effects I felt after each session. Over the years, I’ve realized the impact of mindfulness. It has brought me joy by making me more grateful, more able to cultivate compassion towards myself and others and has helped me gained a more positive perspective. I used to take simple tasks like listening to music or walking on campus for granted, but by being more present, I appreciate these things much more.
How does Mindfulness help during exam prep?
Being a student can be overwhelming. There’s always something due or an exam around the corner. Meditation has helped me feel less anxious. I remember I used to get nervous the night before an exam. Now, these thoughts occur less frequently. Even when they do, they don’t take a toll on me. I’m more calm in stressful times. Of course, this is a result of regular practice. However, I believe that even if you’re a beginner, you can still benefit from trying mindfulness.
Why should students put their books down to practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness is like building a fire. Each time you practice, you’re fueling it. Gradually, being mindful affects all aspects of your life – interpersonal relationships, feeling more present and aware of your surroundings as well as in schoolwork. To practice meditation as a class, with a lot of people, almost always costs money. Having free drop-in sessions on campus allows students to take a break from their work and come back with a clearer mind. It also provides an environment for beginners to practice with guidance of instructors. It’s a pretty cool thing to have on campus!
Drop-in for a mindful moment with Thomas; Mondays 4 – 5pm (Multi-Faith Centre’s main hall on the second floor).
Check out U of T students on The Meditation Generation FB live too!