We’re a university where taking yourself out of your comfort zone, being open to new ideas and pushing the boundaries is a way of life. But how well do you know what’s going on in your own mind and body? Now more than ever, it’s important to reclaim some space for yourself.

A sign with 'Mindfulness' handwritten on it in cursive script against a window

You might have heard of mindfulness or even given it a go before.  Meet Dr Caroline Barratt who is developing research and teaching on how mindfulness and self-compassion may help improve the well-being and resilience of professionals and students in the healthcare setting.

“Mindfulness practice is not a magic cure for fixing everything that we find difficult. But by becoming more aware of what is going on for us we can change our relationship with our thoughts, feelings and body sensations so that we are not lost within them. Over time this new perspective can help us see the best way to respond to what we are experiencing in any given moment rather than just reacting. We can then start to take better care of ourselves and those around us, particularly at times of stress like exams.” Dr Caroline Barratt

In the run up to applying to university, many people find themselves overwhelmed with managing their commitments, their studies/work, finding work experience and everything else that life throws at them.  To help you take some time for yourself, you may find these introductory guides very useful.  We’d recommend that you start with shorter practices (less than 15 minutes) so you are able to gauge your experience before trying longer ones, particularly if you are doing this without the supervision of a meditation/mindfulness teacher.

  • 10 minute body scan:  This guided mindfulness meditation practice aims to help you feel more present by focusing on sensations in your body.  We often get caught up in thought and lose touch with what is going on in our body. In this practice you are consciously bringing your attention to your experience of each body part in turn. You are not trying to change anything, you are not even trying to relax. You are just noticing – what is going on in my body right now?
  • 10 minute breath awareness: During this ten minute practice, you’ll be encouraged to focus on the sensations of your breathing. You do not have to breathe in any special way; the breath is simply used as an anchor for your attention. It is a way of quieting the mind a little by giving it something specific to focus on. It is likely that your mind will wander away from the breath, because this is what minds do. If you notice that has happened and you’re thinking about an exam or maybe dinner instead, just patiently and kindly bring your attention back to the breath. 

Please be aware that meditation practice can have negative side effects, particularly if you are currently experiencing acute mental health difficulties or have experienced recent trauma. If you are unsure please consult an experienced meditation teacher. 

If you have enjoyed these meditations, you may like to find out more about mindfulness. On our Colchester campus we have a Mindfulness group which meets regularly during term-time throughout the academic year (either online or in person) - more information will be available soon about upcoming sessions

We also provide health and wellbeing support to our students, with help on coping with exam anxiety, stress, and other difficulties. Our Student Services Hub is on tap during office hours, and we also have Residence Life available throughout the night and weekends.