Student life can be hectic and stressful as has been documented in recent times. Colleges do make provision for nurturing health and well-being. However mindfulness has not tended to be one of the skills offered in this context.
So it made sense for So-Wide to provide an eight week mindfulness course for Wolfson College in partnership with its sister charity OMC (Oxford Mindfulness Centre). This was an experiment to see how teaching mindfulness skills could fit into student life and help issues such as student depression, anxiety etc. In turn, this can assist the student in being able to concentrate more effectively on their studies.
The course has now passed its half way point. So it is possible to offer some reflections.
One element of the course is what are called ‘enquiry sessions’. Here, participants share their experience of trying to practise what they have learned. Well, it is of course not ethical to reveal details of what people say in these sessions, but it is clear that a number of the participants are already finding mindfulness useful in their lives. Attendance has been consistently high suggesting those attending are finding real worth and benefit in the course.
It is just great to see individuals benefit from mindfulness training at this early stage. The hope is that this course will seed interest in mindfulness for students, not just at Oxford, but at other universities and colleges.
The potential for mindfulness to be of great benefit in assisting students to work skilfully with the pressures of academia is very exciting. As well as enhancing student well-being, mindfulness skills can also assist in getting the most from studies and student life. It is hoped that the work being done with the group in Wolfson will serve as a model in developing mindfulness as a useful and practical way for colleges and universities to support their students.
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