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How do you calm an overactive mind cluttered with thoughts about the past and future?

 

Academic counselors Curtis Hirsh and Erin Ray have an answer: Focus on the present. It’s the foundation of a course they teach that introduces students to the practice of mindfulness as a way of bringing your attention to the present moment and accepting it without judgment.

Now in its second year, their semester-long freshman course draws upon ancient mindfulness techniques and modern research on the health benefits of being mindful. And there are many.

Mindfulness is known to reduce stress, ease anxiety, improve concentration, foster a positive outlook and enhance academic performance. As a result, the mindfulness movement is trending nationwide, influencing behavior in boardrooms, hospitals, locker rooms and classrooms. On the hilltop, it’s a hit with students.

“I gained great tools to cultivate patience, gratitude and mental clarity,” says Robert Burns ’17, who took the mindfulness course last year. “When I apply what I learned, I’m more productive and aware, and I enjoy my work more.”

Hirsh and Ray point out that any activity, from walking the dog to washing dishes to waiting in line, is an opportunity to unplug and focus your awareness on what you’re doing in that moment.

By Camille Saad

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