All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.
– Friedrich Nietzsche
Mindfulness helps us freeze the frame so that we can become aware of our sensations and experiences as they are, without the distorting coloration of socially conditioned responses or habitual reactions.
– Henepola Gunaratana
Seeing teenagers haunting the local strip mall, plunking down allowance on trendy fashions, sugary snacks or teen rom-coms isn’t unusual.
Seeing teenagers strolling the mall, tuning out the Cosmo Girl noise and tuning in to the moment is.
That’s what mallgoers saw Friday. A half-dozen students enrolled in the Summer for Success program at Beacon College flipped the teenager script during a mindful-walking exercise at Via Port Mall in Leesburg, Fla.
As defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn, founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, mindfulness is the practice of “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
For Summer for Success students, the experience — led by Michele Patestides, a mindfulness expert and learning specialist/academic advisor at Beacon College, the first accredited college to award bachelor’s degrees primarily to students who learn differently, and resident assistant Samantha Resnick — had a simple focus.
“Walk slowly and silently while staying completely focused on the present moment, taking in the sights, sounds, smells and physical sensations of the walk,” Patestides said.
On a Friday afternoon, the mall buzzed with activity and distractions. Yet, students strapped on mental blinders.
The walk was a hit. Afterward, students were mindful of the lessons learned in stress reduction, medication and awareness.
And suddenly they became aware the venue for their enlightenment journey still was a mall. As teenagers, many were mindful of the latest sales.