Meditation and Mindfulness
The benefits of mindfulness and meditation seem to be all over the news, on television, in movies, and on social media. While it sounds intriguing, for many people the terms conjure images of robed yogis floating in the clouds. In fact, the benefits of regular practice can help you get and stay grounded. People who meditate report reductions in stress and improvements in concentration, sleep, and mood – all of which contribute to academic success!
Renowned meditation teacher and author Jon Kabat-Zinn says mindfulness means “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”. For some, this comes naturally. For most, it is a skill that can be practiced and learned. Fortunately, there are many ways to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into your day that won’t overload your schedule. CAPS mindfulness and meditation programs aim to make the benefits of mindfulness accessible to every student. You can try some of the skills by visiting the pages below. Or join us for one (or more) of the many four-week groups offered each semester.
UNC students report that Meditation and Mindfulness have helped them:
- Slow down.
- Appreciate more.
- Observe my feelings.
- Feel more positive and energized.
- Be more centered and focused.
- Manage stress and anxiety.
There are various methods of meditation, formal and informal, as determined by the focal point that attention is trained to.
Mindfulness describes both a form of meditation and a way of being in the world. For example, you might sit for a period of time following your breathing, noticing thoughts and other experiences entering into your consciousness, but always returning your attention to your breath. You might be walking across campus and instead of thinking about the exam coming up in a couple of days decide instead to focus your attention solely on the sights and sounds and sensations around you.
- Watch these two short videos for an easy overview of Mindfulness & Meditation!
- Download the free version of Insight Timer App (https://insighttimer.com/) to have a nice meditation timer and searchable guided meditations. It often helps to start with guided and timed meditations to have some structure to your practice. Students have also enjoyed the Headspace app, which sometimes offers a low-cost student membership.
- Start small! It’s better to meditate even two minutes a day every day than it is to set ambitious goals that don’t fit your life and schedule.
- Build a habit, which makes it easier to stick with. Try to meditate at the same time every day. Pair your meditation with an already established habit (after you brush your teeth, when you wake up, before lunch or when you are getting ready for bed).
- There is no wrong way to meditate. Try different kinds of meditation to learn what works best for you. Google is your friend! Check out Mindful Self Compassion, Loving Kindness Meditation, Body Scan, Breath meditation, sound meditation. Try simply paying more attention to things you are already doing – eat mindfully, drive mindfully, work out mindfully….
- If you start and then taper off, know that’s normal. Start again as soon as you feel ready. It might be easier the next time around.
- It might be beneficial for some people to have a bit more structure; The mindfulness and meditation therapy groups CAPS offers can be a helpful starting point.