Starting this Tuesday, September 22, the University Counseling Center is holding a Mindfulness Practices Now Workshop. When asked what this event is about, Dr. Lora Sloan, Lead Psychologist at the University Counseling Center, said, “Mindfulness Practices Now is a weekly drop-in Zoom event that started in September and supports students learning about mindfulness by practicing one skill per week. The reason for the name is that mindfulness can only happen in the present (now) and I have taken traditional practices and applied them in ways that can be utilized in current circumstances.”
Students do not need to sign up for this workshop! You can simply look up the University Counseling Center and the Zoom link can be found there, or by accessing the University calendar.
Students may be wondering what mindfulness is. Mindfulness is the skill of being present in the moment and living in each moment. When asked what mindfulness is to her, Dr. Sloan replied, “Mindfulness is a skill that increases our ability to connect with the present moment and allows us to develop more helpful relationships to our thoughts, feelings and experiences. The most common misconception is that it is about stopping your thoughts or being blissful all the time, which is not possible. I really like the definition from the UCLA Center Mindful Awareness Research Center, which is ‘Paying attention to present moment experiences with openness and curiosity and a willingness to be with what is.’”
“Mindfulness is a valuable skill to anyone, and when asked why students should look into mindfulness, Dr. Sloan said, “Mindfulness is a highly validated approach to improving well-being. Newer brain imaging techniques allow us to see that it can help change both function and structure of the brain in ways that are beneficial for mental and physical health.”
Everyone has something to gain from a workshop like this, even if they do not think they do. When asked what one could hope to gain from mindfulness, Dr. Sloan replied “For students, one major benefit can be improved concentration and increased ability to manage some of the mental clutter that can get overwhelming at times, especially in current circumstances. Mindfulness has been shown to have a positive impact on concentration and GPA. But more importantly, if practiced regularly, it decreases the intensity of reactivity to stressful events and reduces feelings of burnout. It has the potential to increase the ability to cope with imperfection, feel more connected to ourselves and others, and to be present enough to act effectively moment to moment. Mayo Clinic’s website has a more complete list of empirically-validated benefits for those who are interested. I hope that students who are interested will join in when they are able.”
Mindfulness is a fantastic skill to cultivate and this workshop is a great place to start. It will be taking place on Zoom through the University Counseling Center, and more information can be found at https://calendar.und.edu/event/mindfulness_practices_now_4226#.X2UfMS9h1sM.
Kaitlyn Willett is a Dakota Student Arts and Community Writer. She can be reached at [email protected]