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#StressLessKCC

Options to help students stress less during the semester and exam week.

Week 1 - Introduction to Mindfulness

“…scientific research at medical centers all over the world suggests that training in mindfulness and MBSR can positively and often profoundly affect participants' ability to reduce medical symptoms and psychological distress while learning to live life more fully.” (Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, University of Massachusetts Medical School, (UMASS) 2018).

 

Mindfulness is a basic human quality, a way of learning to pay attention to whatever is happening in your life that allows you a greater sense of connection to your life inwardly and outwardly. Mindfulness is also a practice, a systematic method aimed at cultivating clarity, insight, and understanding. It is an opportunity to re-awaken to what you already are.

Regarding your health and the potential for improved success in life, and for us here at KCC, as a student, mindfulness is a way for you to experientially learn to take better care of yourself by exploring and understanding the interplay of mind and body and mobilizing your own inner resources for coping, growing, and healing.  This approach is also called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). We will use  our own interpretation of this process for our mindfulness support group.

Juggling the demands of daily life, work, family and attending classes can put great demands (stressors) on a person.  It may start with excitement, confusion, apprehension, the challenges of change and improving our lives.  When the mind and body experience these feelings, over time the stressors contribute to the development of stress.  When we are stressed we are less focused and become more susceptible to physical illness, feelings of discomfort and mental and/or emotional strain.  We may not be functioning as well as we used to at this point.  Practicing mindfulness may help return us to more effective functioning both physically and mentally.  This occurs as the result of learning to draw upon our inner resources and natural capacity for greater health as well as balance, ease and peace of mind.

The practice of mindfulness can bring about decreases in physical and psychological symptoms, improved energy and enthusiasm, increased ability to relax, reduction in pain, improved ability to cope with stress (short and long-term) as well as improved self-esteem.  Mindfulness is a way of learning to relate directly to whatever is happening in your life, a way of taking charge and consciously and systematically working with your own stressors.   Mindfulness is not something you have to “get” – it is already within you. Mindfulness is a practice adapted from classic meditation practices that are centuries old.

Activities:

1.  Mindful eating

2.  Mindful breathing   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGFog-OuFDM

Week 2 - Body Scan Technique

Perception in life, and in mindfulness practice, is key. How you see things (or don’t see them) has a large part in determining how we react or respond to them.  This lesson will teach you to cultivate a greater degree of awareness of how you react to stressors. Changing perception of, and response to, challenges/stressors, will impact the short and long-term effects of stress on mind and body.

What is the body-scan technique?

Some describe this technique as a key pathway to full presence is “…awakening through the body.” Through a guided body-scan meditation one may relax and receive the play of sensations of our body that often go un-noticed or ignored. Using body-scan and focused breathing we can experience physical and psychological “alive-ness”, awareness and focus. By changing our relationship with “discomfort” (stress) we can be more present and tuned in to what is, or needs to be, happening around us.  One participant share this regarding the use of body-scan:

“Now, I notice that I am increasingly able to stay and examine sensations that show up in my body when I feel upset on its way. I can be with my stress-clenched butt, my indignant-jaw, my quaking belly. By practicing the body scan, I am learning to stay softly present to the United Colors of Stress as it tries to hole up in my body. More and more, I can notice what I feel without having to hold on to it. I can let it go and return to the present moment over and over. Damn, I’m good.”  (E. Smookler, 2016).

The recommended time for a full body-scan is 30 or 40 minutes but a little time (10 minutes) is better that no time at all.  Lying down may be “best” but seated works just fine too.  Eyes closed allow the most focus but downward gaze works well too.  We will:

  • Bring awareness to breathing in and out.
  • Notice touch and pressure where you make contact with seat or floor.
  • Take time to experience and notice each area of the body.  Sensations may include buzzing, tingling, pressure, tightness or temperature or whatever else you notice.
  • There are no right answers – it’s you and your body.  Be present without judgment.

Let’s get started.

Recording here:

https://www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditation-body-scan-living-presence-11-min/

Smookler, E. (2016).  Beginner’s Body Scan Meditation.

Recording here:   https://www.mindful.org/beginners-body-scan-meditation/

Week 3 - Chaos and Order Card

REMAINING CENTERED AMID CHAOS

  • Isolate two times in your day when things are most stressful.
  • Just before these periods, find a quiet place where you can be alone.
  • Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and pay attention to your breathing.
  • After two minutes, sense into your body, slowly bringing your attention to the center of your chest.
  • Should anything distract you, acknowledge it, then gently refocus on your breathing.

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