Welcome to MT@MC Online! Depending upon what brought you here, you might be curious to know what mindfulness is, or how to get the benefits of mindfulness for yourself. If you're taking online classes or your schedule doesn't allow you to come in person to MT@MC, you can learn and practice right here. MT is taught in 8-week cycles - each session covers a different topic and type of practice. Like most classes, each session builds on the one before, so we suggest you start by doing the first two sessions, at least, before sampling others, or simply do them in order.
One other thing - mindfulness training is a learn-by-doing kind of thing. You can read about it, talk about it, watch videos or listen to lectures about it and learn a lot of good and interesting stuff, but the benefits (and actual understanding) come only with practice. Like going to the gym, right? And, just like the gym, some days feel 'better' than others. What matters is that you try it and keep after it. Fall away? Begin again.
What is Mindfulness?
The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience, moment to moment.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D.
Mindfulness is just that--being able to focus on the present moment, whether that be on a class assignment or professor's lecture, a conversation with a friend, or a beautiful sunset. Life is full of distractions that can draw the attention away from what is important in the here and now.
What is Mindfulness Training?
Mindfulness Training (MT) is a method of training your brain to increase your capacity to be calm, focused, and to be more aware of your present-moment experience. Methods include exercises that help you pay attention to thoughts, sensations, feelings, emotions, and impulses without judging them or trying to make something happen. Sometimes it’s easier to understand mindfulness when you consider its opposite: mindlessness: being inattentive, distracted, acting on impulse, being on “autopilot” without paying attention to what you are doing, and so on. Perhaps you can think of an example of this kind of mindlessness in your own life.
Benefits of MT to Students (and Everyone Else)
The brain changes. Because of neuroplasticity the more we do something, the more the brain grows the ability to do that particular activity—this is called learning.
Learning how to be mindful also improves:
· The ability to concentrate, sustain attention, and notice/refocus when the mind wanders off
· Working memory (our mind's 'white board' where we hold information)
· Emotional balance
and makes us less judgmental of ourselves and others.
How Does It Work?
MT@MC is presented as an 8-week program, both in our on-campus and online programs. We suggest that online students practice it in this same way--access one session each week, take advantage of the written, video, or audio resources, and then practice the skills presented in that session several times that week. The sessions build upon one another, so it's helpful do them in order. If you find that you really enjoy a particular practice, or realize great benefit from it, feel free to "stay there" exploring it for a while. Likewise, if you find a certain practice, after trying it, is not for you, feel free to move on to the next one. As an online learner, you have the option of visiting the sessions more often and longer than you could if you were doing our in-person only version.
Training requires repeated practice over time. Just as you would need to practice lifting weights or running, or shooting hoops to become stronger, so does mindfulness require practice to become stronger at focusing. Think of it as mental push-ups.
It’s helpful to set a time every day, or at least most days, to practice the skills you have learned that week. And with online access, it’s even more important to plan on specific times, since you have more scheduling freedom. It’s easier to put it off if you don’t plan ahead. More practice=greater benefit.
How Do I Get Started?
All it takes is a good seat, attention to the breath, and a willingness to return to the breath when your mind wanders. Ready? Go to Session 1: Mindful Breathing.