Teaching students mindfulness techniques to help with stress management.
A free mindfulness workshop taught Concordia students techniques on how to manage their stress this past Wednesday.
The workshop was led by Jewel Perlin, a psychologist with Concordia’s Counselling and Psychological Services. It was one of many workshops offered through the Zen Den, a space for students to visit and relax.
Perlin said she hopes students apply the skills they learn in the workshop to help control their moods and thoughts.
Mindfulness is concerned with the connection between the mind and body and is used to better manage stress and maintain good mental and physical health. Perlin referenced Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, who defined mindfulness as a practice “with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.”
Dr. Kabat-Zinn developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which combines mindfulness and medical practices to help manage physical and emotional pain.
The workshop taught students easy ways to practice mindfulness in their day-to-day life. Some of those practices included a guided meditation, a body scan where students were encouraged to focus on what their body was feeling starting at their feet and working their way up. Finally, they were led through the “ball of light” exercise, a breathing and stress management technique in which someone envisions a warm ball of light traveling up one arm on an inhale and down the other while exhaling.
“I have some anxiety issues regarding my future,” said Elif Aksulu, a student who attended the workshop. “It was very strategic. Usually people talk about mindfulness, but they don’t actually show you how to do it,” said Aksulu. “It was really nice to be guided through the process.”
During the workshop, the students were told that their emotions were like a green apple. This analogy comes from the idea that if someone is told not to think about something, the first thing they will think of is exactly that. The more they tell themselves not to feel something, the more likely that emotion will start to overcome them.
When using the mindfulness techniques, participants were told to pay close attention to their emotions—specifically, to accept whatever they were feeling.
Perlin said a difficult element of mindfulness is to not pass judgment, “from a very young age we’re programmed to look at things as either good or bad. When we’re trying to develop a nonjudgmental stance it’s about being able to be aware of what we’re doing in the moment without passing judgement.”
The university’s Counselling and Psychological Services will be hosting another mindfulness workshop on Oct. 18. For more information on upcoming workshops and services, visit their website here.
Graphic by @spooky_soda.