Program

Introduction

Ask Yourself:

  • Do you ever find yourself feeling confused?
  • Do you ever find yourself feeling disconnected from yourself and the world around you?
  • Do you ever find yourself finding it hard to concentrate?

By the end of this module you will:

  • Understand how mindfulness may be of use in everyday student life
  • Develop an awareness of how to overcome study problems by applying mindfulness

Video Content

Start this module by watching one (or more) of the following short videos to gain a broad understanding of mindfulness

Mindfulness Dissolves Thoughts — Attention Is What’s Left Over

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mind the Bump - Mindfulness vs Mindlessness

The Power of Mindfulness: What You Practice Grows Stronger

Shauna Shapiro

Take a Quiz

See whether you have the tendency to be mindful in your everyday life. The Mindfulness Attention and Awareness Scale takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and explores how open or receptive your awareness and attention is to what is taking place. To score the scale, simply calculate your average score for all of your 15 responses. Higher scores reflect higher levels of mindfulness.

Below is a collection of statements about your everyday experience. Using the 1-6 scale below, please indicate how frequently or infrequently you currently have each experience. Please answer according to what really reflects your experience rather than what you think your experience should be. Please treat each item separately from every other item.

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Almost Always

Very Frequently

Somewhat Frequently

Somewhat Infrequently

Very Infrequently

Almost Never

I could be experiencing some emotion and not be conscious of it until sometime later.

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I break or spill things because of carelessness, not paying attention, or thinking of   something else.

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I find it difficult to stay focused on what’s happening in the present.

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I tend to walk quickly to get where I’m going without paying attention to what I experience along   the way.

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I tend not to notice feelings of physical tension or discomfort until they really grab my   attention.

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I forget a person’s name almost as soon as I’ve been told it for the first time.

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It seems I am “running on automatic,” without much awareness of what I’m doing.

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I rush through activities without being really attentive to them.

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I get so focused on the goal I want to achieve that I lose touch with what I’m doing right now to   get there.

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I do jobs or tasks automatically, without being aware of what I’m doing.

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I find myself listening to someone with one ear, doing something else at the same time.

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I drive places on “automatic pilot” and then wonder why I went there.

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I find myself preoccupied with the future or the past.

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I find myself doing things without paying attention.

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I snack without being aware that I’m eating.

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Reference: Brown, K.W. & Ryan, R.M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822-848.

Mindfulness Activities to Overcome Common Study Problems

PROBLEM 1: ‘I can’t seem to focus’

Mindfulness Activity: Focus on the task at hand. Quietly think about what you need to do, and what is in front of you. Be present as you possibly can in the current moment. If you feel your mind wander away from the present, gently remind yourself to ‘COME BACK’. This might be a lecture, or a class, or a task you have to do. Whatever it is, be present in where you are at the given moment.

PROBLEM 2:  ‘I feel overwhelmed’

Mindfulness Activity: This task is for you to observe what is happening for you, and to remove any judgement from how you are feeling. If you are at home or somewhere where you can listen to a mobile device, take 5 minutes to listen to the Body Scan Recording. Otherwise if you are in a public place such as a library you can still complete a mindfulness activity by imagining you are just watching things flow past you, as if you are passenger on a boat on a river, watching things go by.


  1. Bring your awareness to what you are doing, thinking and sensing in this moment.
  2. Take a moment to notice the thoughts that come up, and acknowledge your feelings. Think of them as constantly flowing. Let them flow and pass. Don’t judge them as right or wrong, or good or bad, just let them come up, and then float down the river on your breath.
  3. The goal of this activity is to focus the mind again on the breath. Be aware of the movement of your body with each breath. Notice the rise and fall of your chest, the in and out of your belly and the expansion of your lungs. Look for the pattern. Notice the pattern in your breath, and be present with it. Try to just focus on the breath.
  4. Now, allow your focus to expand to other sensations you are feeling in your body. Is there any tension? Any lightness?
  5. Bring your focus back to the breath.

PROBLEM 3: ‘I procrastinate’

We may procrastinate for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is a negative emotional response to the task we are procrastinating from. This activity will help you to recognise these feelings, acknowledge them, and then let them go to allow you to be more productive. If you are at home or somewhere where you can listen to a mobile device, take 5 minutes to listen to the Breath Recording.

  1. Sit somewhere comfortably.
  2. Think about what you are procrastinating from. Be specific.
  3. Notice the feelings that arise when you think of this.
  4. Do not judge yourself for the feelings. Do not make this about you personally. Rather, notice the feelings and sensations that arise in your body when you think of the task.
  5. Observe the feelings, and then consciously relax this tension. If you feel angry, notice this, and then let it fade away.
  6. When you are ready, bring your focus to a state of neutral, and then think of being productive. Visualise getting the task done.
  7. Move from this state into action. Set a limit for completing your task.

Summary & Useful Resources

Mindfulness can help your study in the following way:

  • In preparation for study
  • To get more out of study time through reduced distractions
  • To allow you to transition from study – sleep
  • Focussing on the present improves concentration and retention
  • Reduce anxiety around test/exam situations
  • Boost confidence through visualisations/mental holidays

Make being mindful a regular habit in your everyday life.

Like any muscle you need to train your brain to be mindful, so start with 2-3 minute mindfulness practice at the same time every day (e.g.) when brushing your teeth to strengthen your ability.

Other useful resources:

thedesk (www.thedesk.org.au) provides resources online to help university students improve their wellbeing and study more effectively .

Smiling Mind (www.smilingmind.com.au) is a non-profit organisation that provides free access to mindfulness tools

Beach Recording

Breath Recording

Body Scan Recording

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