By: Charlotte Sim Ri-Ane (22S06R), Prabakaran Balaharish (22S06G), Tan Min En (22S06B)
What is mindfulness to you? We asked a few of our friends and this is what they said:
Well, it seems that most Rafflesians know what mindfulness is. Indeed, it is the artful practice of an individual’s ability to control their thoughts and feelings. But how do we achieve this elusive goal? The Here and Now Enrichment (HANE) Wednesday Enrichment Programme (WEP) was started to answer that very question!
For just a term, we gathered on Wednesdays from 1.00 PM – 2.30 PM. Each HANE session began with a video crafted by the official .b programme (the UK’s leading mindfulness programme for students), followed by a mindfulness practice guided by Ms Ma appertaining to the video. Littered with group sharings, meetings closed with a basic grounding practice, “FOFBOC” (feet on floor, butt on chair), before we headed out more composed than we came in.
Ms Ma taught us multifarious mindfulness practices, ranging from simple ones such as clearing our minds, to more bizarre exercises like mindful walking! But as far as memorable practices go, mindful eating seems to be the crowd favourite.
“It’s something so simple in our day to day lives but that lesson gave me a new perspective/enjoyment about eating.”– Chloe Chen (22S06A)
Furthermore, many HANE participants had takeaways to share. Sohan Singh (22S06P) shared that “(after) attending the course, mindfulness means control – realising that I am in control of my feelings and thoughts, even when they seem to be overwhelming…allowing me to appreciate the good around me, taking a step back from all my wants and desires and learning to be content with what I have…It also allows me to fully enjoy my surroundings.”
Not convinced mindfulness is worth the while? Neuroscientific research found that regular mindfulness practices, even for just 5 minutes a day, can alter our brains for the better:
- Neurons in our hippocampi are generated at a faster pace, forming more neural connections; a denser hippocampus has more efficient information processing abilities. (Turn the dream of 90 RP into reality!)
- Cortisol levels in our blood are lowered, decreasing stress and potential health comorbidities such as peptic ulcers and migraines.
- Increased concentration required for mindfulness stimulates growth in neural structures and promotes increased connectivity within neural networks, slowing down the aging of our brains. (the secret to your youth 😁)
- Grey matter of our prefrontal cortex, responsible for problem solving and regulating our responses to our emotions, becomes denser, fostering creativity.
It would be ironic that a WEP about mindfulness would contribute to students’ stress levels by slewing them with a barrage of assessments and tasks. For this reason, HANE neither requires us to complete projects nor sit for tests. After all, the approach to HANE is not achievement based; but rather one that focuses on experiential learning with an emphasis on self-reflection.
Mindfulness is not an esoteric practice; anyone can practise it and reap its many benefits. So do join us in HANE—all you need is a dose of curiosity and an open mind!