How to practice mindfulness and self-compassion on campus

February 23, 2022

College has always come with its own set of stresses, but navigating a global pandemic has brought about a dramatic shift in our way of life, too. Taking care of your mental health and being kind to yourself is as important as ever right now. 

Mindfulness and meditation are great ways to keep your head fresh, and at ASU, we have many options to learn and practice. 

An interfaith reflection room is located on the lower level of the Memorial Union at the bottom of the staircase toward Sparky’s Den. Students are welcome to use this space whenever the MU is open, and it can provide a safe and relaxing place to unwind after a hard day. 

The meditation space at the Memorial Union, including soft couches

The interfaith reflection room at the Memorial Union

Radha Pranaraja Dasa works for ASU’s Council of Religious Advisors and leads the K.R.S.N.A Club of ASU at  Mind*Body*Soul Institute. In this club, students learn Bhakti yoga, a mindful meditation practice based on ancient vedic devotional teachings from India. 

Dasa says that the mind is the most powerful tool we have and should be handled with compassion and care. 

“A great number of thoughts, up to 50,000, flash through the mind per day, most of them distracting, often useless noise,” he said. “It’s just like being in a very busy train station or airport terminal, where a great number of people come and go. The mind cannot be made empty. There is no such state. The mind is always working so it cannot meditate on nothing.”

Dasa said that ASU students can make positive changes in their lives with little incorporations of mindfulness. Practicing a personal mantra, doing breathing exercises and eating healthier are all ways to help your mind and body be as fresh as possible. 

ASU grad Hanna Layton served as the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience’s sustainability and authenticity coordinator. She worked with the center for over three years  and used mindfulness practices to connect with students, staff and community members. She started formally practicing mindfulness when she was in the first year of her undergraduate career here at ASU. 

“My mindfulness practice set the foundation of my resilience and helped me through both my undergraduate and graduate programs in sustainability,” she said. “My role at the center is so dear to me, as it provides me a platform to share the practices that have gotten me through really difficult times and helped me truly appreciate and be present for the good times.”

Layton added that kindness and compassion are so important and go hand in hand with mindfulness. 

“These attitudes provide a way to connect with and experience relationships, both internally and externally, in a more meaningful way. Kindness and compassion are often linked,” she said. “The difference between kindness and compassion is that kindness is often a behavior or action whereas compassion is an attitude of gentle acceptance and care for oneself and others. Compassion often informs acts of kindness; they are complementary and mutually uplifting practices.”

Layton said that one place to start if you’d like to better practice and connect with kindness is self-compassion. 

“Bringing mindfulness into our relationship with self can help us choose more compassionate and growth-inspiring responses. How you relate to yourself is often reflected in how you relate to others; if you treat yourself with kindness and compassion, it is likely that this attitude will spill over to your interactions with others. Kindness to others comes easily if you practice it first with yourself.”

Learn more about the Center for Mindfulness, Compassion and Resilience on their website. If you want to check out the interfaith reflection room, drop in on the lower level of the Memorial Union at the bottom of the staircase toward Sparky’s Den. If you’d like to start incorporating short mindfulness practices into your life, check out this ASU collection of meditations under 20 minutes

And remember, kindness is contagious!