A Student Guide to Being Present
Not only in the student life but in many walks of life, we often find ourselves in a rush. A rush to get to class on time. A rush to meet deadlines. A rush to pick up a package from the post office, meet your friends for lunch, walk the dog twice daily, wash the ever-growing pile of laundry, bus to an appointment, make it to work on time, and so on.
The rush can be all-consuming until suddenly your sense of self is nowhere in sight. Over the past few days, I’ve finally had some time to just stand still and remember the importance of simply being present.
Meditation is a wonderful way of returning to a state of mindfulness that often escapes us (especially during finals season). Some people take up more ritualistic practices, but I have a very easy and accessible way of reflection that you can do any time anywhere:
On my way to class the other day I could feel the nerves building up. Every day for me starts with an obsession with the time. What time is it? What time does the bus come? How much time do I need for this? For that? I count down the minutes in my head to the point where I lose touch with my surroundings.
Before I knew it, I was jogging across campus spilling hot tea and dropping my books in a mad dash to get to class. So I stopped. And I found myself right between the First Peoples House and Mystic Market on campus (you know the pathway in that little garden area?) I realized I’d forgotten to factor in time to breathe.
I find meditation is much more effective when I’m surrounded by nature, and that little garden area was as good as any in my time of need. I stood still, closed my eyes, and engaged with my senses. That morning, my focus on my internal thoughts had completely muted my external perception of the world. The first thing I did was just breathe. At first my breathing was frantic and a little infuriated, but eventually a slow and steady breath brought me back down to the real world. Then my sense of hearing engaged. I heard the birds chirping and flying amongst the general stillness of the trees. Then came smell. I feasted on the freshness of the air as I pulled more into my lungs. I thought of nothing and felt everything.
There’s something truly humbling about engaging in the world around you after being so caught up in your own. Next time you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by thoughts of the past or the future, take the time to be present instead. Appreciate every moment instead of letting it rush by you. Time is fleeting, but you can set your own pace.