At a relaxed event Monday, an educator helped students dig deep into the concept of mindfulness, something that took playing with coloring books, paint and puzzles.
“Mindfulness is one of the most powerful and practical techniques for dealing with stress,” said Georgianna Negron-Long, who hosted “Love at the University Student Union.
Negron-Long is a Fresno State graduate who is a health educator for Health Promotion and Wellness Services at the university. She spoke at the event about mindfulness and guided attendees through mindfulness exercises.
Negron-Long explained that one way to define mindfulness is as a self-awareness of what one is experiencing. It can be a state of mind as well as a personal characteristic.
Mindfulness has origins in Buddhism as well as yoga. Negron-Long said that often the goal of yoga is to focus on one’s breathing; she showed attendees a breathing exercise.
“I really liked the breathing technique. I think it’s really helpful,” said Jenny Cabanillas, a junior majoring in sociology. “Sometimes, we just need to take a moment to breathe.”
Negron-Long also guided attendees through a mindful eating exercise. First, people were instructed to look at the food item before eating it. Then, they were told to smell it and pay attention to what it smells like. After taking a bite, they were told to focus on the different flavors of the food.
Negron-Long said that eating mindfully can help one know when he or she is full.
She also discussed types of mindfulness. There is “body mindfulness,” such as breathing, thought mindfulness, being aware of one’s own thoughts and not trying to control them or “emotional mindfulness,” about knowing what one’s own personal feelings are.
Negron-Long said the benefits of mindfulness include improved concentration, fewer sleep difficulties and increased empathy.
The event concluded with an emphasis on playfulness, in which attendees were allowed to choose from various objects, such as bubble wrap and games. Negron-Long said that it’s important for individuals to play as it can reduce stress.
Arcellie Santos, a Health Promotion and Wellness Services coordinator who is a graduate student at Fresno State, agrees that playing can be beneficial.
“If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can help you relax a little bit,” Santos said.
The event was part of the Student Health and Counseling Center’s Month of Love, which takes place in February and centers on self-care and loving oneself.
Negron-Long said, “[Mindfulness] is certainly practical and can be quite useful.”