For stressed out students at Bellevue College, there is now a place to go. Meeting on Mondays from 12:10 to 12:40 p.m. in room B230A is a mindfulness group designed for teaching practices to help lower stress in the midst of school, work and whatever else might be going on. Dr. Yu-ting Su, a part time counselor at BC, stated that several of the counselors on campus had already been teaching mindfulness in the human development classes and that with the support of the department, “we began this group and hope we can reach out to students’ needs in a different way.”
Dr. Su quoted Kabat-Zinn in saying that mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” She added that “it is actually very difficult for us to stay in the present moment and be open to our experience without judging our thoughts, feelings and behaviors.”
Originating from Buddhism, mindfulness techniques have been widely applied to healthcare and mental health practice due to its positive effects such as reducing stress, regulating emotional distress as well as treating anxiety and depression.
In these group meetings, Dr. Su teaches various mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and mindfulness walking. She then leads a practice session of the techniques in question before facilitating a discussion on how the group felt about the practice.
Su stated that “We usually focus on one technique for two consecutive meetings and then move on to the next one.” For example, meditation is a practice in which people focus entirely on their breathing. Being aware of one’s breathing helps understand what is going on in that very moment. It is encouraged that one try their best to avoid any excess thoughts and to quickly drop any in the case that they appear anyways.
According to Su, the current goals for the mindfulness group is to teach students the different techniques with the hope “that this learning would assist them to better manage their daily stress, reduce emotional reactivity and improve the overall quality of life.”
One girl, new to the group, felt it really did help her, saying that “my disability creates a lot of anxiety in my life.” Having prior experience with meditation, she explained that despite having cluttered thoughts, it was good to bring herself to the present and remind herself what was happening.
Another girl, new as well, explained that this concept of mindfulness was new to her. She had heard about it often but did not get the chance to attend. Having dealt with parental issues in the past she was often under a lot of stress from either one and so she attended the meeting in hopes of relieving some of it. Both students recommend it to those who are going through stressful times.