Your week might look like this:
- Study for bio exam
- Finish/Start Russian lit essay
- Get to poetry club meeting
- Turn in grad. school applications
- Pick up an extra shift at the library
- Celebrate your roomie’s birthday
- Devour pizza with your study group
Sound familiar? Sometimes the demands can be relentless, making you feel like you wouldn’t know how to relax even if you had the time. To keep it together, we may need to cut back on our commitments. But there is another way:
How to practice present moment awareness; i.e., mindfulness.
Dr. Holly Rogers codeveloped the Koru Mindfulness program for college students (currently available on more than 60 campuses in the US). Trials have shown that the Koru program is effective in helping students feel less stressed, better rested, more compassionate, and more mindful. Dr. Rogers is a psychiatrist at Duke University and coauthor of Mindfulness for the Next Generation: Helping Emerging Adults Manage Stress and Lead Healthier Lives (Oxford University Press, 2012).
Finding your calm (yes, it exists)
Believe it or not, there is a calm, quiet space in all of us that we can access by pulling our attention firmly into the present. Once you find it, the chaos of college life will still be there, but you won’t be overcome by it.
How Jaime got unstrung
Jaime felt strung out from the moment she woke, thinking about everything that had to get done that day, week, semester, decade. She was so busy worrying that she couldn’t concentrate for more than 10 minutes at a time. Even with friends she found it difficult to relax.
Jaime took a mindfulness class and learned to hold her attention in the present moment, focusing on one sensation or action at a time: her breathing, or her fingers as she typed. Whenever her mind started getting crowded, she repeated a mantra to bring herself back to the present: “Just this moment.”
“If I give my full attention to whatever I am working on right at that moment, I feel much less stressed. I’m more efficient that way, too. It will all get done if I take it one step at a time,” she says.
At the link, scroll to the Koru Body Scan. This type of meditation can teach you to use physical sensations to keep your attention in the moment. To help you stay calm in the chaos, practice this for 10 minutes a day.