Mindfulness Meditation classes for Students
Weekly Drop-In Sessions - for All Students
Student Wellness Centre offers weekly drop-in Mindfulness Meditation sessions open to all U of S students. Each session includes two guided practices, a brief teaching and opportunity for discussion. No registration is required. Students new to and familiar with meditation are welcome.
STM Chapel, 2nd Floor St. Thomas More College
- Jan 15, 22, 29
- Feb 5, 19, 26
- March 5, 12, 19, 26
- April 2
Facilitator: Sinéad Unsworth, PhD., Registered Doctoral Psychologist. Sinéad has an academic and clinical background in mindfulness. She also has experience offering mindfulness meditation groups.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and your surrounding environment.
Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
Mindfulness and Your Grades
Research has shown that practicing mindfulness eliminates wandering thoughts, increases working memory capacity, and improves exam scores
Benefits of Mindfulness
Several studies have found that mindfulness increases positive emotions, while reducing negative emotions and stress. Research also suggests that practicing mindfulness can improve learning, memory, emotional regulation and empathy.
Studies suggest that mindfulness helps us tune out distractions and improve our memory and attention skills. This makes it easier to pay attention in class or focus when studying.
It has been suggested that practicing mindfulness can boost our immune system’s ability to fight off illness. Mindfulness can also lead to decreasing your blood pressure.
Research suggest mindfulness training makes couples more satisfied with their relationships, makes partners feel more optimistic and relaxed, and makes them feel more accepting of and closer to one and other.
Mindfulness helps people cope with stress and reduce levels of anxiety.
There is evidence suggesting that aggression, anger and hostility are decreased when one practices mindfulness.
Just do it!
It is not uncommon to find skeptics when it comes to the benefits of mindfulness. However, similar to how you cannot reap the benefits of exercise by reading about it, you will not truly understand the advantages of practicing mindfulness until you give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Practicing mindfulness is easier that you may believe. Some methods to practice mindfulness include: yoga, meditation, listening to nature, focused breathing, or anything that brings your focus to the present.
Being Mindful of Food and Substances
Being mindful of what you consume can decrease overeating/overdrinking and feeling guilty, choosing the wrong food/drinks, and becoming dependent on substances, like food and alcohol.
Being Mindful in Relationships
Become more satisfied with your relationships to prevent dwelling on the past, worrying about the future and becoming disconnected. Try and focus on listening and being open-minded, being empathetic and thinking before you speak.
Being a Mindful Student
Being a mindful student can help you relax, focus, and accomplish your goals. Practice mindfulness at school by turning off your phone while studying, concentrating on one task at a time, visualizing yourself writing an exam before starting, and taking short study breaks when you start to lose focus.
In recent years, yoga has become more popular and research has found many mental health benefits. It can be practiced by people from all religious backgrounds. Trying different types of yoga may help find one that suits you. Types of yoga include:
- Hatha Yoga
- Vinyasa Flow
- Iyengar Yoga
- Hot Yoga
Meditation can lead to improved concentration, decreased distraction, decreased stress levels, and better coping skills.
Clearing the Mind Meditation Technique
- Sit comfortably with hands on your knees facing up
- Inhale and raise hands to the back of the head bringing fingertips together, visualize all your thoughts being gathered in your hands
- Exhale and push the thoughts up and away in front of your head, your hands drop back to your knees facing down
- Visualize your thoughts becoming clouds and floating away, changing and moving as clouds do
- Enjoy a moment of your clear mind, watch your thoughts float away like clouds, repeat after a few moments or as the mind wanders
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the other major classification of meditation practice, also known as insight meditation. In the practice of mindfulness, you begin by using one-pointed attention to cultivate calmness and stability, but you then move beyond that by introducing a wider scope to the observing, as well as an element of inquiry. When thoughts or feelings come up in your mind, you don’t ignore them or suppress them, nor do you analyze or judge their content. Rather, you simply note any thoughts as they occur and observe them intentionally but non-judgmentally, moment by moment, as events in the field of your awareness.
Paradoxically, this inclusive noting of thoughts that come and go in your mind can lead you to feel less caught up in them and give you a deeper perspective on your reactions to everyday stress and pressures. By observing your thoughts and emotions as if you had taken a step back from them, you can see much more clearly what is actually on your mind. You can see your thoughts arise and recede one after another. You can note the content of your thoughts, the feelings associated with them, and your reactions to them. You might become aware of agendas, attachments, likes and dislikes, and inaccuracies in your ideas. You can gain insights into what drives you, how you see the world, who you think you are - insight into your fears and aspirations.
The key to mindfulness is not so much what you choose to focus on but the quality of the awareness that you bring to each moment. It is very important that it be non-judgmental - more of a silent witnessing, a dispassionate observing, than a running commentary on your inner experience. Observing without judging, moment by moment, helps you see what is on your mind without editing it, without intellectualizing it or getting lost in your own incessant thinking.
It is this investigative, discerning observation of whatever comes up in the present moment that is the hallmark of mindfulness and differentiates it from other forms of meditation. The goal of mindfulness is for you to be more aware, more in touch with life and with whatever is happening in your body, emotional life and mind at the time it is happening - that is, in the present moment. If you are experiencing a distressing thought or feeling or actual physical pain in any moment, you resist the impulse to try to escape the unpleasantness; instead, you attempt to see it clearly as it is and accept it because it is already present in this moment.
Acceptance, of course, does not mean passivity or resignation. On the contrary, by fully accepting what each moment offers, you open yourself to experiencing life much more completely and make it more likely that you will be able to respond effectively to any situation that presents itself. Acceptance offers a way to navigate life’s ups and downs with grace, a sense of humour, and perhaps some understanding of the big picture, what I like to think of as wisdom.
One way to envision how mindfulness works is to think of the mind as the surface of a lake or ocean. There are always waves, sometimes big, sometimes small. Many people think the goal of meditation is to stop the waves so that the water will be flat, peaceful, and tranquil -- but that is not so. The true spirit of mindfulness practice is illustrated by a poster someone once described to me of a 70ish yogi, in full white beard and flowing robes, atop a surfboard and riding the waves off a Hawaiian beach. The caption read: “you can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
Kabat-Zinn, J. Mindfulness Meditation: Health Benefits of an Ancient Buddhist Practice. In Goleman, D. and Gurin, J. (eds). Mind/Body Medicine, Consumer Reports Books, Yonkers, NY, 1993.
Mindful Breathing Meditation