How to Incorporate Mindfulness Practices
Over the past decade, colleges and universities have seen rates of anxiety steadily increasing even while depression and relationship issues have, for example, remained at the same levels. The pressure on young adults today seems to have created a generation of students who are often perfectionistic, anxious, and sometime lacking in resiliency. Practices that allow students to pause, slow down, reflect, train the mind, and that assist in developing meaning and purpose are vital for colleges and universities to promote. If students can graduate from institutions of higher education with varied and in depth experiences of self-reflection, the likelihood of greater emotional intelligence and genuine happiness will be served. Students will go into the world better able to manage the challenges, complexities, and setbacks that inevitably arise in life.
How do we help students build life-long skills in self-reflection?
- Provide a regular array of classes, retreat opportunities, and workshops that promote proven mind/body practices for lowering anxiety and fostering emotional intelligence such as yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi.
- These classes can be offered at low cost often by utilizing teachers from the area surrounding your college or university. Students are sometimes motivated to become yoga and meditation teachers as well and this will bolster mind/body programming. Cost of classes can be defrayed in part by the higher education institution, student activities fees, Health or Counseling Center budgets, along with Human Resources.
- Integrative medicine options such as acupuncture and massage might also be introduced onto your campus to further educate how self-care can be realized via bodily oriented medical practices that incorporate mind/body awareness.
- More western integrative medicine interventions such as biofeedback and neurofeedback can successfully teach students how to lower anxiety by monitoring a specific physiological measure and altering it via constant feedback devices connected with computers. This more scientific approach may appeal to students who are academically committed to empirically oriented majors.
- Mind/body skills programs can also be tailored for specific groups of students and populations. For example, pairing mindfulness with birding walks or snowshoe trips; offering women of color yoga retreat; sponsoring yoga classes for LGBTIQ students; utilizing Koru – a four session mindfulness group -- for a residence hall floor; offering visualizations for athletic teams or performing artists.
- Lastly, colleges and universities could contemplate offering a for credit course that allows students to explore care of the body, mind, and spirit utilizing research, theory, and actual practice sessions.