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Class teaches students mindfullness

| Thursday, September 28, 2017

Several Saint Mary’s students are taking Notre Dame’s Mindfulness and Meditation course to become more mindful and less stressed. 

Senior Kate Zurovchak said Mindfulness and Meditation focuses on being present in the moment.

“Mindfulness is being present in the moment. People usually get caught up in a lot of things, like with stress or anxiety,” Zurovchak said. “We tend to just live in our thoughts and in our heads, and when we do that, the way we interpret the present moment and what’s happening in front of us is distorted.”

Zurovchak said mindfulness is about honesty with oneself and recognizing both good and bad stress.

“Mindfulness is not trying to push negative thoughts away, it’s just accepting them for what they are,” she said. “If you’re stressed out about something, you can recognize that you’re stressed out and instead of acting on it in a negative way, you learn how to accept that stress and not have it affect you.”

Senior Jamie Moran said in an email she feels the class will help her manage her anxiety better.

“I personally struggle with focusing on the present moment,” she said. “My mind can sometimes be my own worst enemy. I’m always looking for new ways to practice self-care and become more confident, and I think this class will provide me with tools on how enjoy my life more for what it is today.”

Zurovchak said the class teaches students several meditation techniques in order to facilitate mindfulness.

“We do a body scan where we start focusing on our toes then go all the way to our heads and it’s just an activity where we learn to be more in the present,” she said. “We usually do a two-minute meditation at the beginning of class, then learn about new ways to meditate. We are supposed to meditate 10 minutes a day and keep a log.”

Moran said the class focuses its intentions on Koru Mindfulness.

“Koru Mindfulness teaches us how to better manage our stress and worries through meditation,” she said. “We practice different meditations in class and reflect on our experiences with it … It takes a lot of practice, but it helps to try one of the exercises every day to bring our minds into the present moment without thinking too much about the past or worrying about the future.”

Zurovchak said the class would help her become a better nursing student.

“As a nursing major, I feel that mindfulness is really important when you provide care, because nursing is kind of stressful at times, and if you’re just stuck in your head, you can be prone to making mistakes and not be able to develop a really good relationship with your patients,” she said.

Zurovchak said she has learned to become present in her classes, especially when experiencing anxiety.

“Just by doing it for a week, I’ve learned not just to be present in meditation but in class as well. There was a period in one of my classes where I was really anxious but was able to realize that I was feeling anxiety, and normally I would probably retreat inside myself and stop being involved in the class, but I was able to overcome that and still be present in the class,” she said. “I was aware that I was worrying, but I was able to accept that worry and not have it affect me.”

Zurovchak said she feels the class can help anyone better understand and cope with their anxiety.

“Anxiety is something everybody has,” she said. “Anybody in any major should take the class and practice mindfulness, because anyone career path has stressors and anxiety. We can all relate to each other on some levels.”

Moran said the class can especially help students manage the anxiety caused by the uncertainty of life after college.

“I know many other college students are struggling to balance their busy lives,” she said. “There is so much uncertainty right now, so it’s very easy to grow anxious and worried about where we’re going or why we’re here. This class teaches you how to be more aware of your negative thoughts and bring your mind back into the present moment.”

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About Gina Twardosz

Gina Twardosz is a senior English Writing and Communication Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. She's the co-editor of the Investigative Unit, a Saint Mary's social media liaison, and she occasionally writes for SMC News and Scene. Gina is a tried and true Midwesterner and yes, she does say "ope" often.

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