Thriving Together Series: Mindfulness in College Life

Thriving Together mindfulness in college

Original illustration by Aditi Goel

By: Aditi Goel, a Mason student majoring in Public Administration

“Recharge your inner battery with meditation.” – Sister Jayanti

Have you experienced stress and even burnout from managing your social, personal, and academic life in college? It’s hard to imagine college life without stress. However, mindfulness can strengthen your well-being in ways that help you manage stress well. Practicing mindfulness in college can bring you moments of happiness and peace, a sense of purpose as you prepare for your career, a sense of connection with yourself, and a hopefulness that everything will fall into place well in your life.

I have experienced mindfulness to be a very useful tool in staying grounded. One research study shows that meditation can literally rewire our brains by increasing grey matter in the amygdala – the part of the brain responsible for emotions, survival instincts, and memory. Another study, where subjects were, on average, 25 years old, showed that a consistent practice of meditation resulted in a significant increase in positive mood states and a decrease in stress levels. One more research study revealed that mindfulness helps to combat depression. Much more research has been done to link mindfulness with healthy living. Personally, it has also led to a better, healthier college experience for me.

Mindful Mason Moments, which Mason has offered for several years so far, has been super helpful and relaxing for the participants who attend. When I started attending these sessions in my freshman year, I knew this was a place where I could relax, away from thinking about my class assignments. I gained a sense of community with the facilitators and other participants. Later, I started facilitating some of these sessions and it gave me an added sense of connection. Some of my friends who still attend it with me feel the same. These sessions and the community are what I will miss after I graduate this year. The sessions are facilitated by instructors with generous hearts, who may be Mason faculty, staff, or students like me. I have felt that they are the perfect break in the middle of the day, to transition into the second half of the day with greater mental peace.

Sometimes it’s hard to make time to practice mindfulness, especially if you’re dealing with emotional clutter because of stress. But making time for mindfulness is always worthwhile, since it can help you navigate college life with more ease.

Ideas for Practicing Mindfulness in College

  • Take a deep breath in … release. Take 30 seconds to acknowledge all the things you are grateful for right now. It can be your friends, family, access to study, professors, nature, healthy body, ability to breathe freely, access to food and water, or other blessings.
  • When you walk around campus, instead of repeating prior conversations in your mind, or thinking about your next class, look around yourself and observe the trees, the people, the buildings, the walkway. See how the breeze feels on your skin, how the ground feels when you walk, how your posture feels, what pace your arms are swinging in, and more.
  • Note your thoughts or feelings as soon as something stressful arises – maybe at the back of your notebook, or in a separate small journal just for writing down your feelings.
  • Do a nice stretch (think of a cute dog just waking up from sleep), straighten out your arms, rotate your ankle, move your neck side to side, take a deep breath, and release!
  • When you walk, or even when you want to take a 10-second break while working/studying, repeat the mantra “Life is working for me” as many times as you like, slowly.

Even amidst stress and anxiety, remember that you have you, your best companion. You are valuable and your work is valuable. You are precious, so take care of yourself in ways that resonate and are comfortable for you!

Additional Resources

Check out the following resources to learn more about mindfulness:

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