Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Your secret weapon to crushing your finals

Mindfulness is beneficial to all
(Flickr: David Saračevič)

“Mindfulness” is the practice of paying attention to the present moment with intention, and letting go of judgement as if our life depends on it. It is a form of meditation that is practiced daily by world class athletes like LeBron James, performers J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar and other highly successful CEOs and media executives Arianna Huffington and Oprah Winfrey. All of these highly successful individuals, among countless others, incorporate some form of intense focus on the present daily, in efforts to unplug from their busy lives, as well as attain the numerous other benefits of mindfulness.

To give you a better idea of what practicing mindfulness is, I’ll provide a simple exercise you can easily work into your daily routine, specifically, when in the shower. Next time you take a shower, from the second you enter the bathroom, focus your attention entirely on sounds. Try to declutter your mind of any thoughts, feelings or judgements about the day or anything at all and just focus on the noises entering your ears at the moment. Notice the sound your shower shoes make against the tile floor of the bathroom. Notice how each step sounds just slightly different from the last. Listen to the water leaving the shower head. Notice the sound of the water hitting your body. The sound of the water hitting the shower floor. The sound of the water going down the drain. From the moment you enter the bathroom to the instant you exit, take control of your thoughts during your 10 minute shower routine. Try to intensely experience the moment you are living in and to give your mind a break from focusing on any thoughts or judgements that typically clutter the mind.

After not long, with a little focus, you’ll notice a few things. The first is that it is really quite difficult to focus all of your attention on something so minute. In our modern world of constant stimulation, we are used to jumping from one stimulus to the next. But a different sensation arises when you are able to focus on a subtle stimulus for even a short period of time. Second, if you are able to focus just on what you’re hearing, you’ll open your mind to an intricate world of sounds that your mind has chosen to be deaf to. Opening your mind to subtle features of your world you have been ignoring can spark your creativity, or simply enable you to be more in touch with everyday life.

I personally have been practicing mindfulness and meditation for over two years, and I can honestly say it has positively affected every aspect of my life. Just 10 minutes a day has made a world of difference. Being able to block out negative thoughts and negative judgements toward myself for just 10 minutes and being able to recognize that negative thoughts have no power over me has helped me pursue life with confidence. Mindfulness has helped me through battles with my own self-esteem, helped me make hard decisions and enabled me to strengthen my willpower and focus to work more purposefully on the things I love. People who practice mindfulness treat their focus like a muscle. Working on your ability to focus for just a few minutes a day helps them to focus harder, for longer periods of time, with less effort, on everyday life.

Practicing mindfulness is a simple way to employ the power of meditation into your everyday life. Mindfulness has numerous scientifically proven benefits such as positively impacting your stress levels, focus, mood, compassion, sleep and countless other aspects of your world. The Silicon Valley has been providing meditation stations and mindfulness classes to their employees for years now, the rest of us are now just catching on to this secret for success. Now I am not saying that by focusing on your breathing or the sounds you hear for 10 minutes that you will immediately increase your IQ or get that promotion you’ve been seeking, but after just your first session of mindfulness you can immediately feel less stressed and clearer headed. After weeks and months of practice, your simple meditation practice could even change the way your brain is wired.

Zoran Josipovic, a research scientist and adjunct professor at New York University conducted a study in 2011, where he put Buddhist monks through a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine while they meditated to track their brain’s blood flow and overall activity. Josipovic found that these monks, who have practiced mindful meditation daily for years, had brains that functioned differently from normal humans. They were able to simultaneously utilize more parts of their brain as compared to normal people. Josipovic speculated that this ability to use their brains in this way is extremely beneficial to the monks; mindful meditation has rewired their brains for the better.

We’re approaching 2019. We live in a futuristic world where we surround ourselves with a constant flow of information and stimulation. Mindfulness is being utilized by the leaders, innovators and highest performing professionals in our world today to combat all of this. We’re asking more of our brains today than ever before in history, and mindfulness could be your new key to staying on top of it all. Mindfulness can be practiced at work, on your phone, on a run and in nearly every part of your life. In 2019, if you’re not practicing mindfulness, you’re falling behind.


Maxwell Zeff is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].



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  • A

    amyDec 9, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    Drugs work too.

  • K

    KevinDec 6, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Stories regarding mindfulness practices are part of my morning read.
    This piece was deftly handled and well crafted.
    Nice job, Maxwell.

  • N

    NITZAKHONDec 5, 2018 at 7:07 am

    There really are times, like after reading this column, when I want the electric grid to go down for a month.