Beep.Beep.Beep. I wake up to that sound every workday at 5:45 A.M. Instead of hitting the snooze, curling back up into my own personal blanket burrito and pretending all of this is some horrible nightmare, I jump out of bed and head out the door, coffee cup in hand as I catch the bus into work. I arrive on campus 45 minutes later; the only other people on campus are the police officers tucked away in their cubicles. I head to my favorite place on campus. A small concrete seating area directly adjacent to the campus pond, just the sounds of nature surround me as I attempt to block all of the noise and practice meditation in silence.
As someone who is always searching for ways to better himself, I knew that I needed to discover a new form of self-care. From constantly getting through my days by pumping myself full of energy drinks and keeping myself busy to keep my mind off things to relying on others, I was fortunate enough to discover meditation in the form of yoga around my senior year of college.
Yoga became a stress reliever where I could escape the stressors of my day and ultimately begin to feel better about myself. I recognize that bending oneself into awkward angles and sitting in silence for long periods of time may not be for everyone. However, I want to share the benefits of meditation and investing in the “self” and how it can help us as student affairs members.
Making Connections through Meditation
“It’s grind day, from Friday, to next Friday. I been up straight for nine days, I need a spa day.”
No, we may not be able to afford to a spa day when we want some self-care. But we can meditate for 5-10 minutes a day. Not only can meditation help you build better connections with yourself, but those around you. During my first year of graduate school, many of my colleagues wanted to spend time building relationships outside of the classroom. As someone who did their undergraduate and graduate work at the same institution, I was desirous of building new relationships and a new persona among these people. Yoga not only allowed me to share this one-hour a day, 3 days a week activity with my colleagues, but many of the students I interacted with on the daily.
Yoga not only helped with releasing stress but it allowed me the opportunity to build stronger bonds with my cohort members. Whether we had just finished wrapping up a group project that we waited to the last minute to complete or a difficult conversation with a student, we always fell back on seeing each other’s smiling faces in yoga class. Whether it was making funny faces at each other or seeing who could do the best downward facing dog, I really cherished that I had others who wanted to better themselves; physically, mentally, and emotionally.
My favorite place to practice meditation is in front of the pond on campus. I recognize that we may not all have that same privilege so I recommend just a nice quiet place devoid of distractions.
Investing in the “Self”
I’m not asking you to become a morning person, I am asking you to make an investment in yourself. When we begin to see these self-care activities as more of an investment in ourselves instead of something we do to prevent burnout, it is more likely to become a strength and our personal and professional growth will happen significantly. Meditate first thing when you wake up or right before bed for 5-10 minutes. Use the other 50 minutes you are on campus before meetings, responsibilities, and emails take over your life to do other things you enjoy. For example, reading or watching an episode of your favorite show on Netflix, etc. Remember, self-care is a gradual process and that process allows us to invest in not only ourselves but our students as well.
“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has its purpose.”
– Elizabeth Kubler – Ross
This post is part of our #SelfCareSA series, which explores unique self-care habits of #SApros. Whether it’s faith, crosswords, or video games, you’re bound to be inspired to carve out some “you-time.” For more info, please see Sabina’s intro post. Be sure to check out other posts in this series too!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Alex Fields on Workplace Engagement