Stress. It’s a natural part of any student’s life. After all, deciding who you’re going to be, how you’re going to make your mark on the world, and who’s going to come along for the ride belies zero pressure, right? For all of you who just scoffed into your coffee cup, yes, forgive the sarcasm. But all jokes aside, the life choices online high school students face can be difficult. They must be, as the degree of difficulty matches the degree of importance. So how can online students who have already made the decision to look outside the box in the quest for personalized education harness the power of their decision-making mind, instead of becoming dwarfed by it?
Andy Puddicombe, creator of the famous meditation program Headspace, has the answer. Ten Mindful Minutes. That’s all you need to learn to wield your mind, instead of letting your mind wield you.
Now, Andy wasn’t always into mindfulness. In his hugely popular TED Talk receiving over a million views, he said, “Like a lot of people, I assumed it was just an aspirin for the mind: you get stressed, you do some meditation. I hadn’t really thought that it could be sort of preventative in nature.” Andy, like many people, assumed that “meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind. But actually, it’s quite different from that. It’s more about stepping back, sort of seeing the thought clearly: witnessing it coming and going-- emotions coming and going-- without judgement, but with a relaxed, focused mind.”
Andy’s journey with mindfulness truly began when he reached his twenties. At this juncture, his life became inundated with stress. Andy describes his mind like a washing machine, constantly whirling and churning with a never ending cycle of worries, thoughts, and questions. He did the only thing he could think of: Andy left University and became a Monk so he could learn to quiet his mind.
“It gave me a greater appreciation… for the present moment. By that, I mean not being lost in thought, not being distracted, not being overwhelmed by difficult emotions, but instead learning how to be in the here and now. How to be mindful. How to be present.”
A Harvard study done a few years ago found that our minds, on average, are lost in thought almost 47% of the time. “To spend half of our life lost in thought…. It seems kind of tragic, actually, especially when there’s something we can do about it.”
So what can we do? The answer, according to Andy, is simple. Do nothing. Okay, not nothing as in go along with your life business as usual, but actually learn to do nothing for ten minutes a day. No music, no internet, no phone, no book. No reflecting on the past or planning for the future. Just learning to watch your mind and your emotions, like a man on the street watching traffic go by. Learning to see the thoughts and emotions that drive by without judgement or reactivity. As Andy points out, this may be uncomfortable for many people. The idea of sitting quietly in your body and allowing yourself to become aware of your unveiled thoughts and fears is a vulnerable place to be. It strips you bare. However, it also helps us learn how to live a more conscious, purposeful life.
Ten Mindful Minutes. That’s all it takes.
What do you feel about mindfulness?