Yearning for an outlet to practice mindfulness? Global pandemic and soul-crushing dread have you not dwelling in the present moment? Then look no further than the Mindful University Project’s bedtime meditation sessions, held via Zoom every Wednesday night at 10 p.m.!
This week’s session was my first one, and to be honest, the setting initially felt a little unnatural. I have only ever meditated in in-person groups , so this new online dynamic was one I had to get used to. Thankfully, this happened very quickly; the facilitator instantly made the atmosphere comfortable and welcoming as she began the meditation in a subdued and airy voice.
The session started off with some guided imagery, which is a useful practice when trying to appreciate and dwell in the present moment, as it allows one to temporarily detach from their physical environment. This momentary detachment can help reduce anxieties about everyday life, and act as a mental reset. During the Zoom practice, we imagined ourselves next to a flowing river, taking note of its ripples, sound, and color.
Other parts of the session focused on breathing, which we humans don’t do often enough. By concentrating on the breath, one can put other distractions aside, further allowing us to live in the moment and channel a certain level of inner peace. In our session, we extended this practice of awareness to not only our breath, but also specific parts of our bodies, such as the movement of toes and fingers. I found this practice very helpful and intriguing, as I usually don’t take the time to appreciate and internalize these mundane yet crucial sensations.
There’s one idea that has stuck with me since Wednesday: “A thought is only a thought.”
The facilitator briefly mentioned this concept during our session, and I initially didn’t think much of it. But later that night, I was listening to a talk by John Butler, a spiritual sage and champion of meditation. He brought up this exact idea, and I realized just how significant it really is.
“A thought is only a thought.” Far too often, I find that my own mind can be my worst enemy, and I’m sure the same is true for many other people. I get so wrapped up in my own thoughts and worries to the point where it hinders my ability to function at my best.
However, it’s important to remind myself that when it comes down to it, thoughts are just thoughts. They can suck, they can be irrational, they can make you feel bad about yourself, but they’re also just thoughts — they’re temporary.
Although your thoughts and emotions are completely valid, you can’t always trust them, which is important to realize the next time you start getting down on yourself or freak out about a situation that’s out of your control. Now, I’m not saying this philosophy is a cure-all to every single existential crisis you’ll have, but it’s something that’s personally helped me these past few days.
On the flip side, this concept is also a call to positive action.
You could have a great thought for change or improvement, but it’s also just a thought. You need to put in actual effort to make it anything more. This is true for personal goals and it’s true for larger societal goals as well — it’s not enough to simply imagine an end to police brutality and injustice, it’s necessary to be donating, signing petitions, peacefully protesting, and voting.
Man, all this from a 20-minute Zoom meditation on a Wednesday night.
No matter your experience level, I highly recommend tuning into any of the weekly meetings. Being able to attend a session like this one online is great. Not only is it easy to access, but you can have real-time meditation guidance from the comfort of your own room.
Mindfulness is like mentally brushing your teeth. It’s a crucial aspect of mental health that’s important to practice daily. You could practice it by taking walks, listening to music, having alone time, or anything else relaxing that you can make the time for.
Whether you’re Zooming or finding other outlets, keep those mental teeth clean.