By Arnelle Philemy
It has been more than a year since we have had to adapt to living in the time of COVID-19. Most colleges and schools have had to be remote, leaving students and staff without a physical space to go to. As a student myself, I know firsthand how difficult and challenging these past months have been not being able to be in a classroom, go to campus nor have a simple face-to-face conversation without worrying that I might get or give the virus to someone else. It has been much harder for some people, having to stay in between four walls for almost a year now, scared of what might happen and not being mindful of the present. On the other hand, they are amazing people who got the amiability to share support, which helped me, and others stayed grounded to be mindful of what is happening and remembering to take things one breath at a time.
Many might ask what mindfulness is in such difficult times? I have four simple words for you “focus on the present.” That is what mindfulness is about, knowing what you feel now, at that moment, being present, and accept whatever you might be feeling. Being mindful takes time, but it is a process everyone should take. Because when you know what you are feeling, not only do you know yourself better, but you have the basic to make life-changing decisions.
As a QCC student, I had the opportunity to participate in many mindful events created by the Mindfulness Club and the QCC Office of Student Activities with the help of many faculty. In these events, the host helped students and staff learn different ways of being mindful. One of the events “Art and Mind.” Hosted by Susan Gonzalez, a professor of Introduction to Art Therapy at QCC, the event focused on how art can be used to express what is in one’s mind, connecting the breath with the thoughts and the drawings with our mind.
The first exercise we did was a drawing of our hands. On one piece of paper, we draw our hands three times in three different positions. Breathing in and out while following and reproducing the shape of our fingers. We also read two poems the first one, Dear You by Kaveri Patel, was about talking to our inner self the second one, The Guest House by Rumi translated by Coleman Barks, also focused on the connections with oneself. Part of the second exercise we did was acknowledging our emotions of fear, happiness, and love.
After reading the second poem, we had to draw what we felt from repeating the poem. During the exercise professor, Gonzalez said, “To be mindful of what you are doing, you have to state what you are doing at the moment you do it.” Saying it out loud gives the emotions a meaning and gives life to the mind. At the end of the event, most not to say all the participants left learning something new about themselves, guiding them to be more mindful or to help them start practicing mindfulness. Professor Gonzalez concluded the session with these few words “When I feel something, I sit with it and give it space.” Sitting with our feelings is accepting whatever we are feeling in the moment. Giving it space is allowing it to exist. Some things we all should start practicing to be more patient and tolerant with ourselves. The Mindfulness Club and the Office of Student Activities have been holding virtual events these past few months, helping all QCC staff and students through those challenging times. During March, they have had many events regarding mindfulness and have collaborated with the dance department, the music department, and many other departments. All the events I attended were as good and helpful in their own ways as the Mind and Art event was. As we are looking at midterm and final exams for this semester. The Mindfulness Club and the Office of Student Activities promise to have more activities for staff and students, staying by their side all through the semester, offering them a safe place to come relax and be mindful. If you need more information or would like to join them, go to their website, https://www.qcc.cuny.edu/studentactivities/clubs/Mindfulness-Club.html