Mindful Matter

Student Tapaysa Bhandari explains how she has managed to improve her overthinking and anxiety using the tools she has discovered through our 8 week mindfulness course.

Why did I try mindfulness?

Growing up, I always felt hyperactive which ultimately has led to struggles with distraction when trying to concentrate on tasks. When I was young, this issue did not seem that harmful. However, as I have grown up, I have realised these “distractions” have the potential to be significantly harmful to my mental wellbeing. This became very apparent as I started working from home when COVID-19 hit a year ago. These “distractions” or ‘overthinking’ became all-consuming – it’s all I could think about. For instance, when I was working at the Lloyds Banking Group within risk management during my placement year, I was tasked with monitoring and updating Covid statistics twice a day to feed into a key report.  I struggled to focus on other tasks through the day as I could not stop thinking about the morbid figures. I would then go on to become angry at myself – not accepting of my thoughts and feelings, which I can see now was not showing kindness to myself for this natural human reaction.

I tried the Headspace meditating app to ground myself amongst other things. It did help me to some degree, but I continued to struggle. I also developed anxiety during the past year like many others due to my altered lifestyle. This only became worse as I experienced some significant family issues throughout the year.

I am a big believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason. Fortunately, Adelina’s email about the mindfulness course for Economics students found me just when I needed it the most. Although I had previously attended the weekly mindfulness Wednesday drop ins (run by the Mindfulness society), I felt I needed more help – something more structured. This 8-week course aimed to give us theory and motivation behind mindfulness.

Undertaking this course has been the most rewarding thing I have done for my mental health. Lorraine, the mindfulness teacher, is the most wonderful guide one can ask for. In addition to running the incredibly calming sessions, she has also helped me be kind to myself – especially an area of struggle for me. It also helps knowing that I am not alone or the only one experiencing certain issues. I have also learnt useful techniques from Lorraine that have helped me with anxiety.

Each session was different, for example, we learnt about different chemicals released in the brain that triggered a certain response. We then practiced varied exercises followed by a discussion about the practice, our experience, homework from the week before etc. Lorraine would then usually read us either abstracts from various books or poems. I particularly loved how she concluded each session with the prayer from Metta Bahavan “may you be happy, may you be well, may you be free from suffering, may you come to love and accept all that you are, even your mistakes, and may you know joy”.

I have experienced mindfulness to be kinder and accepting in comparison to other meditation sessions I have undertaken. In mindfulness, we acknowledge that minds wander, it’s their job to do so. We learned to be kinder and patient with ourselves whilst acknowledging that we can get better at controlling our minds and thoughts in the long-run with practice.

I am not going to say I am a 100% transformed person, that I don’t struggle to focus, or that I don’t have anxiety anymore etc. Instead, I have developed a long-term plan that incorporates practicing mindfulness into my lifestyle slowly but steadily which will hopefully help me maintain better mental health. Although the course is completed, I am definitely going to continue using the Wednesday drop-ins, even after graduating.

I have elaborated on my experience with mindfulness but you can read various articles about its benefits here.

If you are interested in Mindfulness, try the weekly drop-in sessions organised by the UKC Mindfulness society and led by Tapasya’s teacher Lorainne Millard.

This section on their website is particualrly helpful for those of you heading into exam season. 

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