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Opinion: UCLA’s mindfulness resources not worth much without proper publicity

(Lily Lee/Daily Bruin)

By Deepto Mizan

Oct. 22, 2020 9:42 p.m.

It’s hard to find any peace of mind lately.

A global pandemic, continued police brutality and a tumultuous election season have turned the daily stresses of life into a seemingly never-ending crisis. As society grapples with these newfound challenges, achieving peace of mind feels further out of reach by the day.

Now may be an ideal time to search for resolve and the will to fight for change within oneself.

Meditation has become a popular tool in society’s fight against chronic stress and adversity. Neurological research touts the potential medical and social benefits of practicing mindfulness. These activities can enhance individuals’ mental health and help reorient life goals.

A moment’s peace can provide invaluable benefits for students and workers continuing to make ends meet, especially during times of great adversity.

And UCLA can help its staff and students find this moment of peace.

The university must better connect students and faculty to mindfulness courses, programs and practice tracks. The university already has numerous resources in place – it just needs to better publicize them. Mindfulness is an undeniably important part of a strong lifestyle, and the campus community would benefit from having increased accessibility to these self-care tools.

UCLA boasts a significant number of resources that can readily help Bruins find peace. The UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center conducts neuroscientific research on the effects of mindfulness and implements such techniques in courses available to students.

Diana Winston, the director of mindfulness education at MARC, said mindfulness is an important part of managing day-to-day troubles and focusing on the present moment. MARC has multiple resources for students and faculty to use during this time, one of which is a free meditation app, Winston added.

“I would love to see the courses and the recorded tracks promoted for students’ well-being and mental health, as everyone is free to join,” Winston said.

The Resilience In Your Student Experience Center also provides virtual workshops and programs for self-care techniques. These also include peer mentorship programs, self-guided resources and training sessions.

Greater advertisement of the center’s app and courses could benefit the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services as they serve students grappling with the fallout of a mostly virtual quarter. And with a significant increase in anxiety and stress during this pandemic, mindfulness has never been more important.

Instead of relying on other entities to provide self-care resources, UCLA would do well to boost its own programs that students can more readily access.

Numerous student programs are making efforts already. Even prior to the pandemic, Bruins have taken the initiative to promote meditation and mindfulness in their communities. The UCLA Music Meditation Club, for example, continues to encourage mindfulness through music and mantra meditation, food services and community talks.

Vishnupriya Bohra, a second-year business economics student and finance director of the club, said meditation is a valuable part of mindfulness practice.

“I feel that meditation helps to put our sights on the inside, and through our guided and mantra meditation, it helps to provide such a space,” Bohra said.

The club is a premier example of a community that is eager and willing to promote and partake in meditation practices.

Wazo Connect, a peer mentorship and mental health organization, also offers meditation and yoga as resources.

Guilia Piscitelli, a fourth-year international development studies student and co-president of Wazo Connect, said good mental health and mindfulness is a crucial part of enacting change.

“Ideally change should come from a place where you are happy and able to feel self-confidence and connect with others,” Piscitelli said.

Students are fighting for change and finding resolve within themselves. A shoutout from the university certainly wouldn’t hurt.

It’s clear UCLA is well-equipped to provide better self-care education and opportunities for its students. But it needs to be more active in connecting the student body with these organizations through outreach and other accessible resources.

However, while meditation does fall under the broad umbrella of self-care, it isn’t the be-all, end-all solution it is sometimes advertised as. Instead, meditation provides a gradual grounding in oneself in order to be better prepared to face life challenges. Such a practice is crucial now more than ever.

Students deserve to have increased accessibility to meditation programs and resources that can instill positive lifestyle choices. Without such involvement, UCLA is missing out on a golden opportunity to better help its community find solace now and well into the future.

Although we are now living in times of crisis, being mindful can prepare society for what comes next.

After all, it’s clear the world needs a calm mind to make change.

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Deepto Mizan | Opinion columnist
Mizan is an Opinion columnist.
Mizan is an Opinion columnist.
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