Tackling a New Semester with ‘Mindfulness’

Thursday, January 10, 2019

by Courtney M. Fowler

When leaving the holidays behind and starting a new semester, there’s a good chance that this time of year can include many stressors. However, according to Greg Nicholls, Ph.D., director of Counseling and Psychological Services at SJU, if you take on these transitions with “mindfulness” you’re more likely to get through them with ease.

Mindfulness refers to a meditation concept that emphasizes being fully attentive to the present moment.

“We all need a way to downshift and find our own peaceful place,” Nicholls said. “And using mindful meditation as a tool really allows you to find that positive space.”

For that reason, Nicholls launched his Mindful Mondays series during the Fall 2018 semester. The half hour sessions, which are available to students, faculty and staff, include guided meditation, a 2-3 minute conversational reflection and an increasingly rare opportunity to disconnect from the distractions of everyday life before continuing your day. The intention is to both relieve your brain from stress while also conditioning it to focus on conscious relaxation.

“Many times our minds tend to wander – whether it’s to the past or the future – and it becomes difficult to simply exist in the present moment while acknowledging the power of it,” Nicholls adds. “So, I felt that creating Mindful Mondays was a great way to have people throughout campus make a commitment that would allow me to lead them through a short, but effective meditation.”

In practicing mindfulness, specifically during these sessions, he believes that we can train ourselves to relieve of the burdens associated with a wandering mind by compartmentalizing stressors and concentrating on “the now.”

The need for such a program also couldn’t have come at a better time as it’s suggested by psychologists that the ‘January blues’ – feelings of sadness or confusion following the holiday season – tends to impact our daily functions significantly in the weeks following the New Year.

In season full of confusion and change, Nicholls’ quick sessions of peace may exactly what the doctor ordered.

The Spring iteration of Mindful Mondays begins on Monday, January 28, 2018 at 11:15 a.m.

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