Mindfulness is a powerful tool

DSCF5084By Michael Isberto |Staff Writer|

A course on mindfulness is one of the newest additions to CSUSB’s curriculum.

The Communication Studies department dedicates an entire class on helping students strengthen their focus by helping them stay in the present. 

I believe this is great for students and it is a crucial skill to have for everything we do.

“I’m interested in taking Mindfulness & Communication because it sounds rad,” said student Coleen Cabral.

“I would like to learn how to be mindful and how to meditate and to live in the present moment. To distress from my other four classes I’m going to take. It’s a way to knock out an upper-division elective requirement without stressing that the class will be too much to handle,” concluded Cabral.

Certain students think the class will be an easy one, and when I first heard about the class, I thought the same thing. 

But what surprises me is that students are actually very interested and invested in this topic.

The maturity in this topic is a great sign for this generation.

So often we are focused on what’s behind us and what’s ahead of us we neglect the here and now. 

In a society where we are driven by producing outcome, we so often forget to be grateful for what is happening in this very second. 

Sometimes this can open up the floodgates of regret, dwelling on what could’ve happened or what could’ve been done.

“Mindfulness […] [is] paying attention in a particular way intentionally and without judgment,” said Dr. Bradford Owen, who will be the course instructor.

Maybe we are somewhat spoiled by idealism.

Maybe we are not grateful enough for what we have, so we do not take care of what is right in front of us.

Maybe some of us have self-destructive tendencies that are driven by glaring advertisements and things around us, feeding into the idea that who we are and what we are doing with our lives is insufficient.

Whatever it is that steals our attention of what is happening right now, makes us forget that we are only promised this very second. 

Taking care of this very moment is what allows what is yet to come.

Staying in the present takes a lot of commitment to not only yourself, but also to those around you—it is a practice that invites a very specific and fine focus to what is happening with us. 

This practice is incredibly useful in all aspects of our lives.

Staying in the moment at school or in the workplace opens us to a wealth of information, knowledge, and experience that cannot be taken back or missed if we are fully engaged. 

This moment of complete engagement creates a building block and a solid foundation for us, as we are sponges to all that life is gifting to us.

“I’ve been a meditator for more than 40 years so I found it beneficial personally,” said Owen.

“Empirical research evidence has demonstrated a number of benefits of mindfulness. […] Generally it helps reduce stress, reduce unwanted negative emotional reactivity and it helps the ability to concentrate,” continued Owen.

Neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School reported that meditation not only reduces stress, but it can also thicken the gray matter in the frontal cortex, which is associated with memory and decision-making.

“There are dozens and dozens of studies that show these kinds of benefits, many of them are physiological. Even a short eight week meditation practice has been shown to thicken the gray matter of the brain in a beneficial way,” concluded Owen.

We allow more positive things to happen in our lives when staying in the moment and inviting mindfulness into our world.

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