This article certainly isn’t an answer or a theory. It’s a weighted question. And in a world that is so consumed with hatred and negativity and destruction, it is a journey. How does one practice mindfulness? Recently, in lieu of finals week, the volunteers at my campus’s wellness center hosted a party in which they gave away tea and pamphlets on being calm. One of the pamphlets had instructions on how to be mindful when eating and showering. When showering, pay attention to how your skin feels in the air before the shower and then how each warm drop feels on your skin. Hear the water hit the floor, and listen for each individual drop. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Though helpful in some of these small aspects of life, bringing peace to my mind before class each morning, I now seek a pamphlet that teaches me how to lead a more mindful lifestyle. Constantly I find myself getting angry at the smallest things and my anger sends me spiraling towards anxiety and depression. I get tenser as time passes and I struggle to make my body function as it would if it were healthy and happy. My heart tightens and my breathing feels weighted and I hate the world and the people in it. If I catch a happy moment, or even a series of happy moments that stretch into a week or a month, my body never fails to repeat the cycle of hatred. I want to know how to me more mindful. I want to not only feel mindful and appreciative when I am happy, but all of the time. When my vision blurs and I gasp for air, I want to know how to resurface. Meditation only works for so long and comfort fails to present itself in times of need. Netflix recently released a documentary called Minimalism. It was really good and provided a different perspective on happiness and what lengths people go to in this capitalist world to achieve it. The philosophy of the featured men was to only own products that added meaning or purpose to your life. Now, picture your own happy future through rose colored sunglasses. Lots of money? A cute house and a nice car? Love? Now picture a sad future. It probably looks desolate and lacks material goods. This is because the American Dream has been modeled around money and STUFF. Working hard and finding happiness at the end of the road. You either have it or you don’t, apparently. But if this goal is so unachievable for so many people, why is it still practiced? Happiness isn’t supposed to come from goods, it’s supposed to come from within. Mindfulness helps you find happiness from within and helps you appreciate what you already have, and shows you what gives you real happiness in your life and separates it from what brings you negativity. So now the revised American Dream is mindfulness. Is it just as unachievable as the first or is it something that can be taught? I’d like to find out.
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Ask your best friend these basic questions to see just how well they know you.
My best friend has been in my life since we were 3 years old, now that we are adults now, I'd like to ask her these questions to see how well she knows me.
1. What's my favorite type of food?
Wrong: Mexican Food
2. What's one food I hate?
3. What's my favorite restaurant?
Wrong: Panera Bread
4. What's my favorite movie?
5. Where was I born?
Saint Mary's Hospital
6. Who is my absolute best friend?
7. What's my favorite thing about you?
8. What is my dream job?
9. What's my favorite color?
10. What's one thing I'm really bad at?
11. What's one thing I'm really good at?
12. What would you say is my greatest weakness?
13. What would you say is my greatest strength?
14. Who am I closest to in my family?
15. How did I get my name?
"They just said it"
Wrong: They based my name selection on my hair color
16. Who is my role model?
Wrong: my cousin Kristina
17. Who is my biggest supporter?
18. What is my biggest regret?
Watching a scary movie too young
19. What is my greatest fear?
20. What is my biggest insecurity?
I survive a day alone in NYC.
It was six in the evening. I was sitting in the courtyard of a Renaissance-era Italian villa, glancing around at the statues, most notably one of a boy removing a thorn from his foot. Despite the supposedly relaxing setting, I was incredibly anxious. My phone was at less than 5 percent battery, and once it died I would be completely disconnected from my family and peers, alone in one of the largest art museums in the country.
Last weekend, as a perk of being a honors student here at Loyola, the entire freshman honors class set out at seven in the morning to New York City and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I felt fairly confident about the whole thing; I had packed all I needed, and made plans with some friends from my Messina group the week before.
On the bus I asked if they were planning on staying in the museum all day like I was. I wanted to get as much as I could out of one of the most prestigious museums in the world. I was honestly quite surprised when they had made plans to see" Les Miserables." To be fair, it was last minute on their part as well, and I accept some of the blame by not following up on our initial conversation. I wasn't upset at them. I figured I was okay as long as I didn't leave the museum.
After improvising some lunch, I headed over to the Greek and Roman wing to take a tour guided by our Messina teachers. Afterwards, I meandered through the museum, having the time of my life, pondering the wide variety of art on display. After getting some dinner at the basement cafeteria, I noticed my phone battery was running low. It was 4:30 in the afternoon, and was not supposed to head back to the bus until 6:30. Now, as grown adults, the bus would not wait for us -- it left exactly at seven. I'm serious. The itinerary even gave numbers for the train station.
I was a little nervous at that point. My phone was my only clock and only connection to my Messina group, parents, and the rest of the world. If I stopped taking pictures and texting, the battery would last until I was on the bus and could text my mom I was safe. However, after a round of souvenir buying and coming clean to my mom, who thought my friends -- or at least my teachers -- had been with me the entire day, my phone was dying. And then I was there, sitting on one of the few benches I could find (my feet were killing me) and trying to stay calm.
Thankfully for my nerves, one of my last few texts was from my Messina group, a majority of which were meeting on the stairs. As we congregated, I tried to text my mom, only to have my phone die in my hands. I was nerve-wracked at that point, afraid I would be left alone to die in the city. I stayed with the crowd of students as we wandered through the streets of the city, and eventually onto the bus.
The first thing I did when I got back was text my mom I was okay, after my phone got some juice. The day had been good. It may have been nice to have someone else with me, but I took care of myself, like the independent adult the rest of the world considers me to be. It'll probably be a while before I consider myself such.
Getting back into the school groove when you just can't seem to let go of summer.
With fall classes just beginning, many of us find ourselves struck with summer withdrawals. Especially for those who refrained from taking courses over the summer, it can be quite difficult to get back in the swing of things. Fortunately, there are various ways to help make the transition back to college as smooth as possible.
By now, instructors are posting their syllabi and laying out the direction of their respective courses. One of the most helpful things to do is invest in a day planner and write in all important due dates, test dates, and other relevant information so that everything is easily accessible in one spot. Alternatively, keeping a Google calendar updated with all of this information makes the calendar easily accessible from virtually anywhere with an internet connection on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Another way to ensure success is to make a list of all the supplies necessary for the start of the school year and hit the last minute back-to-school sales. As college students, we are always looking for ways to save: time, money, energy. Planning out the essentials for the coming year and doing some quick research to find the best deals makes starting the fall semester much easier. Most importantly, don’t be bashful; ask about discounts for college students. Sometimes, even the most unexpected things come at a less expensive price for college students.
No doubt much of the summer was spent partying, eating, and probably getting very little sleep. Now that school is back in session, it is time to get things in check once again. A healthy body fuels a healthy mind. Eating right and exercising regularly help manage stress, increase attention span and ability to focus, and overall leave the body feeling good. It is important schedule in time to exercise each week, as staying active increases blood flow to the brain, aiding in many of its functions including memory and information processing. It is also important to make sure to get enough sleep. Seven to eight hours per night is ideal for students, especially those taking a rigorous course load.
Take Time For Yourself
Although school, work, and social events often crowd any college student’s schedule, it is important to designate a few hours of “me time” each week. Whether lying in bed reading a book or watching Netflix, or taking a dip in the pool or an afternoon trip to the beach, making time for yourself is important during the school year. It helps manage stress and prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed and never having time to relax. College life is all about planning, and if you take action, avoiding procrastination, and stay ahead of the game, the school year should be much more manageable.
Salvage what you can; if you can't, it's alright to walk away.
We met at a bar.
A place I had been once before.
I pushed the bittersweet memories back,
told them they could come out another day.
The contrast between this and the last
it was packed, and noisy,
trivia night was in full swing.
He made the comment, "We can stay if you want to,
but when I saw they were playing a game with electronic gadgets,
I knew this place was not for me."
Oh, the contrasts; becoming more vivid with each cheer.
I made the effort to salvage, the date, the night, the time.
"Coffee then?" just a few steps away.
At the coffee shop I stood back, pretending to miss the confusion.
Coffee, it should be simple enough, the menu was sparse
a gentle nudge, suggestion, for simple,
anything to take away the bewilderment.
Sputtering conversation grasping for connections, commonality
Tales of youthful folly
resulting in a life of pain.
I knew, this was my sign, call it.
My life was already filled with pain,
from someone else's youthful mistake.
I understood what this would mean.
Was it fair to judge, on pain?
Fair to whom?
What of the contrast…
Either way, I walked away.
They may be the worst sometimes, but this baseball team has given me more than I could ask for.
On September 3rd, 2001, a sea of children littered my home's navy-carpeted den to watch baseball during my dad's 40th birthday extravaganza. A baseball game flickered on the TV, and a red and blue bubble of a scoreboard sat in the bottom right corner of the screen. The New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies were in a wild game at Veterans' Stadium. As I, a five-year-old boy with a jumble of curly blonde hair, sat in the back of the kid clump, I wondered which team I should root for. After a long debate with myself, I decided that I should root for the team that's winning (duh). But, as the ninth inning rolled around with the Phils maintaining a 7-5 lead, some magic occurred. The Mets put up five runs in one frame, stunning the Phillie fans in the room and winning the game 10-7.
That was my first experience with the Mets. To my five-year-old self, it was as thrilling as a roller coaster. That day I was introduced to my favorite baseball team. Little did I know, this was just the beginning of the wild ride that is Mets fandom. From 2001 to 2006, the daily routine at home in Blue Bell, PA always included checking the Sports section of The New York Times, searching baseball scores for a Mets victory. It was just a regular part of my day and didn't seem like anything big, but right after my 10th birthday, things started to change.
In May of 2006, I was diagnosed with Chron's Disease. I spent seven miserable days in the hospital, with only PlayStation games and Sportscenter to keep me sane. On the 5th or 6th day, I was watching baseball highlights when it came up: a snippet of Carlos Beltran whacking a 16th inning walk-off home run into the New York night against the Phillies. All the stomachaches and blood draws of the past week faded, if only for a moment, as I watched Beltran belt that ball into the sky. In that instant, the Metsies made me happy, and their dominance and division championship in 2006 got me more excited than I'd been for anything in my life.
Sports tend to do that with me. They drive my brain like a truck into splashes of excitement and mountains of agony. The first mountain of agony popped out of my sports world about 5 months after my first stay at the hospital. The Mets had reached the National League Championship Series, and in Game 7, Carlos Beltran stepped back into the same batters' box where he smacked that May home run with a chance to send the Metsies to the World Series.
But the magic didn't happen that time. And history refused to repeat itself, as Beltran watched Strike 3 swoop by him, ending the Mets championship chances.
It was a ball. It had to be a ball. Even if it was a strike, how did Carlos not swing at that? There's no way that just happened.
Tears trickled down my face, and angry curses flew out of my mouth. I couldn't believe it. I was devastated, and I didn't even know it was about to get way worse.
In 2007, the Mets blew a seven-game division lead on the Phillies in the last two weeks of the season. Living in suburban Philadelphia, school the next day was hell. Every two years my Jewish middle school would celebrate Sukkot by going to Hershey Park. This year, every student had to wear red, and every kid wearing a Phillies shirt came up to me and just kinda laughed. After that, not even roller coasters and chocolate could cheer me up and knock down that mountain of agony.
From the next year on, the Mets drove me insane. After collapsing again in '08, the Mets consistently put up losing seasons into the next decade. It makes sense actually. Going through middle school and parts of high school were tough, and swirling that with my bumpy Chron's Disease didn't help.
But somehow, 2015 is looked a heck of a lot different.
The Mets are in first place in the N.L. East and they're finally fun again! While I was away at camp this summer, the Mets finally decided to make some big boy baseball moves, just like in 2015 they called up touted prospects and trading for Yoenis Cespedes, a monster hitter.
I think it actually makes sense that this is the year. After a challenging freshman year academically and socially, Year Two has rolled around beautifully, and I'm loving being a sophomore at Muhlenberg College. After a lonely single last year, I now have an awesome roommate. I'm taking classes that I really like and I think I might have discovered what my major is. My Chron's disease has been under control, I have a great group of friends. and for once, I have a great sense of where I'm going.
It's been fun, and once baseball season ends, I might be a little less happy with just basketball to watch.
But hopefully, I'll still be winning, just like the Mets.
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign