Thrive on Campus//

The Yoga of College Life

Tips for incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine as a college student.

Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

Life can begin to feel like a dull routine, especially in an educational institution. You go to the same classes day after day, talk to the same people, eat the same food, etc. This repetitive lifestyle can get boring and depressing.

On the other hand, each day is a new beginning. Today is the most important day of your life — because it’s today!  As cartoonist Bill Keane eloquently stated, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”

Meditation teaches that not only is each day a new beginning — each moment is a new beginning. As Greek philosopher Heraclitus explained, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Once you begin living in the present, you will recognize an overflowing abundance of novelty everywhere you look. Practicing mindfulness throughout your day will expand your perception of your ever-changing surroundings.

Anything you do with conscious awareness is a form of yoga. If you implement meditation into every part of your day, your whole life will become your spiritual practice! I will now explain how to implement mindfulness during daily activities to make the most out of every moment.

The Yoga of Waking Up in the Morning

The first thing most people do in the morning is check their phone. This habit starts your day off in a distracted state. Instead, take a moment of gratitude for the blessing of a new day. Think about what you’re excited to do today. Think about what you want to accomplish today. This meditation will allow you to start your day with a positive mindset – now you just have to maintain this state-of-mind for the rest of the day.

The Yoga of Eating

Take a moment of gratitude for the blessing of another meal. Focus your attention on the sensations in your mouth each time you take a bite. This technique makes you aware of not only how you’re eating, but also what you’re eating. Every time you eat or drink, you’re either heightening or lowering your consciousness — choose wisely! It’s easy to get lost in conversation and finish your plate without even noticing. Mindful eating reminds you why you’re in a dining hall in the first place — to eat!

The Yoga of Walking to Class

Pay attention to your posture, making sure that your head aligns with your straight back. Notice the direction of each of your steps — are you pigeon-toed? — and work to make them parallel over time. Don’t walk around campus listening to music — your headphones tune you out of reality. Instead, listen to the sounds of birds chirping, cars speeding down the road, students talking, etc. This is the song of life.

The Yoga of Sitting in Class/Doing Homework

Many students view these activities as boring and difficult to complete with undivided attention. Therefore, they can serve as the perfect opportunity for you to implement your mindfulness practice. As you develop your meditative abilities, your capacity to focus on schoolwork will rapidly increase.

The Yoga of Conversation

View each person you meet as a spiritual teacher. In Be Here Now, Ram Dass explains, “When you know how to listen, everybody is the Guru.” Pay close attention to what your conversation partner is saying. Stephen Covey accurately noticed that “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Everyone knows something you don’t, so treat each conversation as an opportunity to learn something new. Don’t look at your phone during a conversation — you will be distracted, and your partner will be annoyed. As Simone Weil said, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

The Yoga of Meditation

Set aside at least 10 minutes every day for silent meditation in the lotus (cross-legged) position. As you gain experience, you will find it easier to return to your awareness throughout the day. Similarly, as you start practicing mindfulness in your daily life, your meditation practice will quickly improve.

You may have noticed a recurring theme throughout this article — restrict your technology usage. Using your phone/laptop excessively will only distract you from directly experiencing the world around you.

Each moment presents a new, unique opportunity to practice meditation. I highly recommend reading Ram Dass’ Journey of Awakening for a more comprehensive guide on implementing mindfulness into your daily life. Namaste, esteemed reader — I salute the Divine Light within you.

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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