Carter Branley, MS, NCC, Koru Mindfulness Facilitator
Staff Counselor, Middlebury College
It is no surprise to most of us that we live in a fast past, high demand, productivity driven culture. We unconsciously feel the pull of these dominant norms and are often guided into ways of being that align with this cultural inertia without first exploring whether our actions are congruent with our own values and desires. This way of being can lead us to feel chronic stress, fatigue, apathy, sadness, mentally scattered, and disconnected from our own experience. Mindfulness offers us a way of interrupting this conditioned patterning, by helping us develop more awareness of our present moment experience, and ultimately, when practiced regularly free ourselves to feel differently.
How mindfulness can help
More than ever before, so many outside forces are vying for our attention and it is easy to become caught up in a fragmented and reactive way of life. As a college student, at any point, there are assignments to complete, readings to finish, texts to respond to, extracurricular responsibilities and community building, friends to support and connect with… At the same time, through technology the lives of others are so visible, and censored, that we can often feel like we don’t measure up. Conditioned FOMO (fear of missing out) and FOF (fear of failure) are often intertwined into daily college life, creating even greater degrees of challenge and stress. Mindfulness practices give us permission to step back, pause, and explore our own inner experience. Through doing so, we are able to observe the different parts of ourselves that underlie our thoughts and actions (e.g. what actually drives FOMO for us). When we learn to pause, we create a space for more awareness of our present moment experience to unfold, and open opportunity for freedom in how we interact with our ourselves, others, and the world around us. Viktor Frankl said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” This is the freedom that awaits us when we engage in mindful practices.
Koru Mindfulness at Middlebury
The Koru Mindfulness Program at Middlebury College offers an introduction to that way of being. Koru is a mindfulness curriculum designed specifically to target the developmental needs and interests of young adults. This course is a way to address feelings of stress, worry and anxiety, experiences of disconnection and apathy, and yearnings for self-exploration. Mindfulness offers tools that the culture around you may not have helped you explore or strengthen and through these tools lies more self-discovery, compassion, and contentment. We invite you to join us in this journey of connection and see what possibilities open for you from this new level of awareness. Visit Koru Mindfulness at Middlebury for more information about our program, to get to know our facilitators, and to sign up for one of the four courses being offered this fall.