Finding Mindfulness at Penn


Finding Mindfulness at Penn

How are you able to keep yourself centered at this hectic school?

Mindfulness seems like a pretty straightforward concept–it suggests that the mind is attentive and you are aware of what’s happening in that moment.

However, this form of meditation, or even just realizing that you are in the present, can be quite difficult.  In the 1970s, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction was taught for the first time at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and has been shown to alleviate anxiety, depression, ADHD and improve emotional regulation, sleep, and attention span.

During my time in high school, the entire school would gather for Chapel every Wednesday morning and we would participate in 5 minutes of “mindfulness.” As short as that seems, this period of reflection would help ground and center me, which was particularly helpful as Wednesdays were game days for sports.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

At Penn, being mindful can be quite challenging, which everyone is probably already aware of.  Students are constantly rushing from class to office hours to club meetings and more. We stay on a constant cycle that even the weekend offers no reprieve from.

But if you can find even 10 minutes out of your day to engage in some mindfulness, it will ultimately be healthier in the long run, and you’ll be less stressed! Sometimes we are so bogged down in work that if something feels slightly off it can be nearly impossible to identify the root of the problem.

Sometimes we are so bogged down in work that if something feels slightly off it can be nearly impossible to identify the root of the problem. Katherine Waltman


So, a simple awareness exercise can be the solution.  Find somewhere quiet and sit or lay in silence.  Almost like the beginnings of yoga, take as many breaths as you need and focus on your breathing. Then, let your mind drift outward and just let thoughts drift through your mind. Don’t focus on anything or think about anything, but let your mind wander and go wherever. Eventually, pick one thing that keeps returning to your stream of consciousness or something that elicits a firm emotional response, and identify why it is causing you trouble. Even something as simple as this can help you feel at ease and more in-tune with yourself.

If mediation is too difficult to incorporate into your schedule, sometimes even just taking a moment while doing work or walking on Locust to fully appreciate where you are (at an amazing institution where you have so many different opportunities). Whatever it may be, meditating in that present moment can help you feel more positive for the rest of the day.

I often walk into Center City alone, and this alone time is really invigorating. You are able to see the city in a different lens than what you are used to and there is a whole other world outside of the Penn bubble. Taking a moment to understand that can also help you find mindfulness.

If all else fails, try to think of 3 things you are grateful for everyday–this can really help center you and help you put certain things into perspective–which is something everyone needs at some point.

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