Being mindful: The skill that contributes to wellness, resilience, academic and life success. Is it time to rethink the knowledge needed to thrive in our fast-paced society at an educational level?
The answer is yes, if you ask Anne-Marie Charest, PhD, mindfulness expert and teaching faculty at Antioch University:
– As educators rethink the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to thrive in our fast-changing society, it is opportune to consider other life skills that can contribute to wellbeing, resilience, academic, and life success. Numerous studies have pointed to the efficacy of mindfulness to help with multiple mental and physical problems such as anxiety, stress, and mood disorders. Recent studies have also indicated the success of mindfulness in contributing to academic achievement.
Charest is leading the way through teaching mindfulness in many of her classes at Antioch, to great reviews from many of her students. “I loved learning mindfulness and applying it to my studies at Antioch”, one student accounts:
“It gave me the tools to be in the class completely, and not thinking about my next exam or paper that was due. It calmed me down and made me more focused, moreover productive here and now”
New research back this up showing that mindfulness changes the brain in ways that make your memory better and learning easier. It gives you a higher sense of emotional control and less anxiety on a daily basis. All tools that college students, let alone anyone living life in this century, should know about.
– As a teacher, I incorporate mindfulness in many ways. From observing my own nervous system to the way I communicate, to deepening my own inner peace from moment to moment. I also use mindfulness with regards to observing my thoughts and notice if they are supportive, judgmental, accepting, or loving. Most of my practice revolves around becoming fully aware if I am acting or operating from a place of fear or love. By doing do, I can choose to continuously return to a place of unconditional love and compassion within myself that will serve me, others, and the community at large, Charest explains.
”In my opinion, a mindfulness practice is the only path to truly embody the Antioch University core values”
The basic premise of mindfulness is control and awareness of your thoughts and emotions. A very useful tool next time your thoughts are racing when you have five papers to write in one week and multiple things on your to-do list – and you want to keep your health and sanity as well. Deep breathing, meditation, yoga and awareness are some of the practices that mindfulness exist in. For tips to start being more mindful now, read this.
There are many skeptics to mindfulness, calling it a “new age blub” and questioning the real benefits (if so, this research should persuade you otherwise). Charest recalls her students being skeptical at first as well:
– Many students were resistant and somewhat confused about what mindfulness is. Learning to pay attention to what is inside can be a very scary thing. It takes courage to listen to our inner landscape. For most students it was an incredible opportunity to learn to calm their nervous system, their thoughts, and their emotions while exploring how they can incorporate a practice for themselves within their own lives. Students were also introduced to their true nature, to the challenges of the contemplative practices, and to their own lived experience. They began to understand how most of us simply react to situations rather than pause and observe our inner landscape before reacting.
But, as many sceptics are, they were convinced after learning about the benefits of mindfulness and seeing the results first hand.
“By the end of the class, most students were deeply grateful for the opportunity to learn skills that would support them for the rest of their lives, including stress reduction and one’s capacity to cultivate inner peace, well being, and happiness”
The good news is that you can learn this superpower. If you can’t take Charest classes at Antioch, there are many great online resources to learn the magic of mindfulness (and here are some great ones). Mindfulness can transform your life, so maybe this Christmas holiday, something to consider looking into?