Spring is just around the corner, and the warmth that it’s bringing to Vancouver is definitely an effective alarm clock for those still burrowed indoors – I admit, there’s definitely no excuse now to get out and meet some people!
I try to stay mindful of my surroundings when I go for walks – relishing the fragrant whiffs of flowers that are just beginning to bloom – but it’s definitely not an easy task when your mind is in a whirl and major life decisions have to be made. I’m sure I’m not alone as I know that most students my age are struggling to find meaning and direction in a world that can’t give an answer to what is the “right” path for you to take. This is especially common in senior high school students who are just starting to get results to their applications to colleges and universities. So what does mindfulness have to do with this? Mindfulness is often touted to be a great coping method in dealing with life stressors. I think it can go beyond that and remind us of another vital aspect of our lives – relationships.
The truth is, while we’re panicking about our futures and working extremely hard to maintain any university offers, we’re less aware of the people around us and miss out on opportunities to build new connections. We lose touch of what it means to be a member of our communities, of society. You could not only gain, but give so much more in your relationships by being truly present in the conversations you have with others. I’m sure most people can relate when they have a friend who is preoccupied with texting or just being caught up in their thoughts – you sense a certain distance between you and your friend, or a lack of connection. Whenever I notice that I’m beginning to mentally withdraw from my group of friends during a hangout, mindfulness is really helpful in bringing me back. It helps me to truly hear what others are saying and lose myself in the conversation. It feels good when you know someone who is openly sharing a part of themselves with you, so you’re more inclined to do the same. It’s also really helpful when you feel like striking up a conversation with a stranger!
So why do we need mindfulness in schools? I believe that schools are not meant to simply prepare you for the next level of learning to eventually secure a job; they are also a place where you learn to socialize with others. If we employ mindfulness in schools, students would be given the opportunity to gain interpersonal skills that are useful for their future careers and in the “real world”, especially when it comes to dealing with conflict. More importantly though, it is a tool that can remind us that we are not just one in 7,404,411,560 faceless people (as of now); each of us is also an important part of this interconnected human network. We need to remember that the happiness of society depends on cooperation and collaboration, which can start from a simple relationship between two people. Mindfulness is often prescribed for psychological stress, but comes with a pleasant side effect of social connection!
Let’s work on truly being there for each other.