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BOZTEPE: Understanding, employing mindfulness techniques leads to emotional regulation

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You are not your thoughts. 

Whether you are going through what happened in your past or what you fear your future is going to look like, neither of these two time periods are occurring. You are stressing about something that you are not close to in either scenario. 

We must live in the now and stop this mental fragmentation and distraction and remind ourselves to snap out of auto-pilot lives. How often have you been driving and actually looked at the tree on the side of the road and analyzed it, rather than just passing it and being aware it exists? Throughout this piece I will discuss the value of living in the now, why and how it is difficult to do and break down the emotions involved with this.

We are currently living in the age of distraction even though in truth we should be living in the age of opportunity. Many people at work fantasize about relaxing or being on vacation, yet when you are on vacation, why do you worry and think about the amount of work you have to do when you return home? Why do we do this to ourselves? 

Many people feel unsatisfied with their time off, and I believe its because their minds are not fully in the vacation, truly enjoying relaxing, meditating, swimming, the new foods and new sights they are lucky enough to see. The reason we do this to ourselves is because we are not being mindful. 

Mindfulness is living in the moment, it is a state of open and intentional attention focused on the present. The more mindful you become the more you realize you are not your thoughts. You are able to take a step back and just observe your thoughts without judging them rather than try to understand why you are thinking the way you are and what are the deeper rooted issues you might not be dealing with that causes you to continually think of your past or future. 

Mindfulness is not about always being perfectly present and moving through life with no issues and only happiness. The goal is to be kind to your thoughts and deal with them head on so you can spend more time growing and living in the now. Also, a lot of people only practice mindfulness when they are upset, similar to praying. 

While mindfulness is absolutely helpful when you are going through a difficult time, our brains are wired to overthink, worry, remember, plan, regret, fear, and mindfulness gives you a way out from this lifestyle and changing these mental habits. 

There is nothing wrong with practicing mindfulness. Whether it be from books, podcasts, alternate readings, becoming more aware is key. Mindfulness is proven to reduce stress, chronic pain, lower your blood pressure and help you focus more on your breath. Breathing is a crucial aspect of mindfulness since deep breathing is known to help you reduce brain fog and a quick pulse and make more objective and planned decisions instead of letting your emotions control you. 

The more mindful you are, the more adept you are at being empathetic, positive, secure, open to criticism and personal growth and so on. Accepting your weaknesses and facing your stressful thoughts in turn will raise your self-esteem and limit attention problems, impulsive actions and negative thoughts.

The ability to be aware and mindful gives you the opportunity to face your fears and stresses essentially. You will be fully conscious and aware of all your thoughts. You will not react or judge, you will just let the ideas flow and accumulate. The goal is to stay calm and accept your feelings, thoughts and any sensations flowing through your body to realize that nothing has any urgency at this very moment. 

We live in a very fast paced society and seemingly forget to remind ourselves how long a day, a minute or an hour truly is. You do not need to change to be mindful, it is a way of living that cuts down on unnecessary stress and helps us take a step back from our stress. 

I will leave you with how to best perform this meditation. First, take a seat, make sure you have good posture and preferably are not lying down. Cross your legs and remind yourself to keep your upper body straight, yet not to stiffen your neck or lower back. Make it feel as natural as possible. All that is left is to close your eyes, breathe in for approximately 90 percent and breathe out approximately 70 percent of the air you took in and simply allow your mind to wander for 5-10 minutes. 

It sounds so simple that it surely should not work right? I give you my word: Just 5 minutes of this breathing mindfulness mediation will reduce your negative emotions, stress, anxiety and concentration issues within as little as a week of practice. 

The solution for most things is internal healing. Enjoy. 

Kaan Jon Boztepe is a School of Arts and Sciences senior double majoring in philosophy and history. His column, "Kaanotations," runs on alternate Tuesdays.  


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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