AnneMarie Rossi finishes her TED-xYouth talk, and the audience is electrified. Then a boy lets out a loud whoop, and the audience bursts into thunderous applause. Rossi has just finished telling a packed audience full of young students about how mindfulness can change their lives. There’s only one issue. Traditional school systems don’t teach it.
Mindfulness is defined as: “a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
For students who have flocked to the progressive approach of online schooling, mindfulness has already begun tapping at their door. Vacating an institution that many accept as the only option indicates a high sense of awareness and mindful problem-solving. After all, if a system put in place as a vehicle to improve your life isn’t working for you, then why not find a new one?
So what do you need to know about Mindfulness?
First off, realize that mindfulness is a skill: “The ability to focus on one thing for an extended period of time is a skill, and it requires practice.” Rossi uses the example of Kobe Bryant. He is already a skilled basketball player. Yet, he still practices.
Why should the upcoming generation practice mindfulness? Rossi tells us that “There exists literally thousands of studies that shows us mindfulness practice decreases depression, anxiety, and stress; increases overall feelings of well-being, happiness, focus, attention, and academic achievement.” Becoming mindful of one’s emotions, breathing, and environment, creates a land of choice. Overwhelmed and need to unplug? You can choose to shut off your phone. Someone being awful to you? You can choose to observe their sad display without being reactive.
“Sometimes we forget that our emotions are ever-changing; that joy and pain come and go like ocean waves. And mindfulness allows us to surf, rather than drown… [it] gives us space between our emotions and our reactions… Mindfulness allows us to be reflective, and not reactive.”
Finally, the most precious reward of mindfulness is for the dreamers out there. Have a dream for your life? You can choose to only keep people, material goods, mentors, and institutions in your life that help serve your greater purpose. Mindfulness helps you become aware of your deepest needs, desires, and helps you questions and analyze the paths set before you. It helps you choose. What future would you like to choose for yourself?
“Change will happen by choice, not by chance.”