In college, ‘throw what you know’ is a call for people in Greek life to show their hand symbols, but in this blog article, I am throwing what I know about how I function right out the metaphorical door.
Since starting this course, I have become more compassionately curious to my thoughts and emotions by having breathing exercises and by learning more about the world around me instead of focusing on myself. I have come to notice my thoughts better by taking time to pause and appreciate the present moment instead of becoming overwhelmed or pushing myself too hard. This course has helped me to implement breathing exercises into my daily life, something that I probably really needed in my life, but never would have done myself. I can also take time to focus on others and the world around me by being a happier and more thoughtful version of myself. I have been able to see more sides of arguments, with the arguments we have done in class and seeing both sides of the story. Emotionally, I have been able to realise my emotions of stress and overwhelmingness and take a step back instead of suppressing my emotions just to get things done. Intellectually, by stopping my multitasking, and being more intentional about specific activities, I can focus better on one thing at a time and it has helped me learn and process material better while getting things done faster, which is the opposite of what I thought would happen. I have also become more compassionately curious, not only to my own thoughts and emotions, but also to the world around me. With learning about climate change and sustainability more, I can think about how what I do impacts the world and the people around me, instead of only thinking about myself. In coming to understand a wicked problem, I have also had more empathy for the world around me and in thinking about how to help the world instead of simply going on with my daily life, knowing what I now know.
In my experience implementing this mindfulness breathing approach in my daily life and in my learning, I have grown to see that I do think ahead most of the time and I do try and get everything done every day, but since starting this exercise I have become more relaxed with my days; if I need to take a nap, instead of being a week ahead on homework, I can take a nap and know that I still have plenty of time to get everything done, but in the present moment, the nap will do more good for me than harm and help me get through the day at hand. I am still working on taking like one day at a time, I still like to think one week at a time, but I feel I have become more relaxed and flexible by being intentional about the current moment.
My mindfulness practice has helped me to focus more on the moment each day. I originally started doing my breathing exercises to help me get to sleep, but now if I feel myself getting overwhelmed or tired in the middle of the day, I will just open my app and do a breathing exercise. This has also helped me to be more present each day. I have become more focused on one step at a time and not setting myself up for worry each morning, but thinking of the present. In my learning practice specifically, I feel that this daily breathing practice has helped me in focusing on the class or assignment at hand instead of looking ahead to all of the work I have to get done later. It has helped me focus and be more productive instead of trying to multitask just to get things done.
The awareness I am coming into by having compassionate curiosity is helping me to develop a more humble and compassionate outlook on the wicked problems we have learned about by showing me that the world is not about me, it does not revolve around me, and I can do so much more by taking my focus off of me and thinking on how to help my environment, because on top of me benefiting from this environmental shift for the better, the people around me as well as my loved ones can benefit as well. In my humbleness, I can realize that the world is so much bigger than me and still has so much work to do, and we all need to get on board with doing it, as well as having a compassionate look is helping me to see the wicked problems not just as ‘not my problem’ but as, if I don’t do it, who will, and ‘how can I help’ because we are not on this planet alone, and we cannot do all great things alone. It takes a village, and in this case, it might take all the people on this planet.
My perceptions about these wicked problems are changing in that I now think about not buying a plastic Dr. Pepper bottle, but using a can, and recycling it on campus, or about putting my daily newspapers in the recycle bin instead of just throwing it in the trash because it is closer, or by carpooling to class with my roommates instead of taking multiple cars, even if it means I have to wake up earlier. While these things might be small, I have still seen a shift in how I think in my daily life. One of my favorite quotes by St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta says ‘There are no great things, only small things with great love” and I believe that even the small things, if done with great intentionality and love, by each one of us, could surely transform the entire planet, if we all just choose to do one good thing for the planet a day and do each of our small acts out of love for one another and the planet around us.