Welcome to the blog for the Center for Koru Mindfulness. I’ve been looking forward to getting this blog started, certain I had much wisdom to impart to the emerging adults in the world who, whether you yet know it or not, are going to find mindfulness to be a very useful skill to develop. Strangely, or perhaps typically, when Gigi, our fabulous and brilliant web designer notified me our blog page was ready to go, I found I couldn’t come up with anything wise or even particularly interesting to say. (By the way, Gigi can be your fabulous and brilliant web designer, too. Email her at hello(at)gigigraphics.com. Maybe she’ll give me a discount for this free advertising.)
“I’ll do my best to keep it relevant to the concerns of emerging adults… I’m also imposing a moratorium on ‘new-agey hogwash’…”
I’m suddenly feeling pressured to make my blogs seem particularly “mindful”, and I’m not really sure what that looks like. My hope is that the Koru Mindfulness blog will be a place that emerging adults and others can come for some wisdom or inspiration about developing the skill of mindfulness. I’ll do my best to keep it relevant to the concerns of emerging adults (aka twenty-somethings, aka young adults). I’m also imposing a moratorium on “new-agey hogwash,” as one of my students describes the language and culture that often colors discussions of mindfulness.
Taking the advice I often give the college students I work with, I’ll take the pressure off myself today by starting with something really simple: some definitions.
First off, who are emerging adults?
If you are roughly between the ages 18-29 then you are probably an emerging adult. No longer adolescents and also not settled into their full adult identity and responsibilities, emerging adults are in an exciting and challenging time of life.
If you are an emerging adult, you are probably both enjoying all the excitement and change that comes along at this time in life and also feeling stressed, pressured, and maybe even anxious. Most emerging adults endorse feeling both excited and stressed because of all the uncertainty that rides shotgun with change.
Mindfulness is the best way I know of for surfing the edge of the excitement without getting swamped by the stress.
So what’s mindfulness and how do you learn it?
Mindfulness is simply the skill of bringing your attention to your present moment experience with an attitude of calm curiosity, suspending judgments and criticisms as you engage with whatever presents itself. With mindfulness, you let go of plans and worries about the future and you let go of regrets and ruminations about past events. You develop an attitude of interest and acceptance towards whatever presents itself next.
Here are a couple things to know about mindfulness.
- First, it sounds simple, and it is in a way, but most people find it surprisingly tricky at first. It takes practice, so don’t give up when you notice that it’s harder than you expected.
- Second, the reason not to give up is that developing the skill of mindfulness is linked to greater health and happiness in a multitude of ways. If you don’t believe me, just do a quick search on Google Scholar and see what comes up. I promise you’ll find a gizzillion articles on the health benefits of mindfulness.
What mindfulness is not, is equally as important. It’s not a panacea for every problem in life (though it can help us find some meaningful solutions). It’s not a religion (though it can be practiced in the context of any religion or none at all). It’s not a relaxation exercise (though sometimes it is relaxing; sometimes not so much.) It’s not a way to escape from life, numb our emotions or avoid our difficulties (it’s the opposite of those things.)
To learn mindfulness, you have to learn to meditate. I can hear the collective groan that the word “meditation” just produced. Meditation is also not any of the things listed above. Nor is it as hard as you might think, but I’ll save that topic for my next blog.