We’re a university where taking yourself out of your comfort zone, being open to new ideas and pushing the boundaries is a way of life. But how well do you know what’s going on in your own mind and body?

You might have heard of mindfulness or even given it a go before. I'm a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health and Social Care, and I develop research and teaching on how mindfulness and self-compassion may help improve the well-being and resilience of professionals and students.

Mindfulness practice is not a magic cure for fixing everything that we find difficult. But by becoming aware of our embodied experience we can become less caught up in our thoughts about how things are and the stories we tell ourselves about what things mean. Over time this reveal the views that we have about ourselves and the world and open up a new perspective that can help us see the best way to respond to what we are experiencing in any given moment rather than just reacting. We can then start to take better care of ourselves and those around us, particularly at times of stress like exams.

In the run up to applying to university, many people find themselves overwhelmed with managing their commitments, their studies/work, finding work experience and everything else that life throws at them.  Coursework and exams will be at the forefront of your mind whilst your trying to juggle your application for university and make decisions about your future.  To help you take some time for yourself, you may find these secular introductory guides very useful.

I'd recommend that you start with shorter practices (less than 15 minutes) so you are able to gauge your experience before trying longer ones, particularly if you are doing this without the supervision of a meditation/mindfulness teacher.

10 minute body scan:  This guided mindfulness meditation practice aims to help you feel more present by focusing on sensations in your body.  We often get caught up in thought and lose touch with what is going on in our body. In this practice you are consciously bringing your attention to your experience of each body part in turn. You are not trying to change anything, you are not even trying to relax. You are just noticing – what is going on in my body right now?  

10 minute breath awareness: During this ten minute practice, you’ll be encouraged to focus on the sensations of your breathing. You do not have to breathe in any special way; the breath is simply used as an anchor for your attention. It is a way of quieting the mind a little by giving it something specific to focus on. It is likely that your mind will wander away from the breath, because this is what minds do. If you notice that has happened and you’re thinking about an exam or maybe dinner instead, just patiently and kindly bring your attention back to the breath.

Please be aware that meditation practice can have negative side effects, particularly if you are currently experiencing acute mental health difficulties or have experienced recent trauma. If you are unsure please consult an experienced meditation teacher.

We provide health and wellbeing support to our students through our Student Wellbeing and Inclusivity Service, with help on coping with exam anxiety, stress, and other difficulties. Our Student Services Hub is on tap during office hours, and we also have Residence Life available throughout the night and weekends.