Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Below is a guest post from CCV Student Eleanor Kinsey.
Do you ever have trouble sleeping because it feels like your mind just won't stop? Can't read that assigned chapter because, even though you're looking right at the page all you're seeing is yesterday's frustrating events play over again? “I can't believe that woman honked at me. It's not like I didn't have my turn signal on.” “I wonder what is on tomorrow's test?” “...Peanut butter...” You can't stop worrying about the future or analyzing the past. You're thinking about everything but the present. Your mind feels so...full and out of control.
The ancient practice of Mindfulness can help us regain control of our minds so we can spend more time in the present moment and less time trying to sort through a cluttered mind. What is Mindfulness? According to Shapiro, “Knowing the state of your mind in this moment, without judging it, evaluating it, thinking about it, or trying to change it, is mindfulness” (5). Sounds easy, but what usually happens when a thought floats into our minds? The “committee” arrives to talk about it, pick it apart, and open the door for other anxiously awaiting thoughts. The other day I sat down to meditate and began thinking, “Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Something smells like lasagna.” The committee immediately said, “Lasagna sounds good!” and proceeded to, “I wonder if I have time to get some burger before Willey's closes. How much longer do I have to meditate? Oh, shoot! I'm thinking! Man, I suck at meditating.” It doesn't take long for an aware mind to shift right back into mindless chatter. “Our mind analyzes our successes and failures, judging and comparing, planning and fearing for the future” (Ma 46). This creates a constant state of stress and anxiety (46) and hinders our ability to focus.
So, how do we begin practicing Mindfulness? Meditation is the most common form of mindfulness practice and an easy way to start. Simply take a moment and bring your awareness to something present. Maybe it's a sound, like a ticking clock or something you see, like a tree outside your window. You may want to try bringing you attention to your breath. Whatever it is, try to become fully immersed in its presence in this moment. Try not to make any judgments about what you are experiencing. If you find yourself thinking, “That ticking sounds like 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' by the Beatles,” simply acknowledge that thought and gently bring your mind back to the present. Continue. Should you find yourself wandering off, it's okay. Just draw your attention back to now. Practicing this for any period of time is practicing mindfulness. Practice isn't limited to seated meditation. You can practice while walking, cleaning dishes, exercising, etc. You can do it anytime, anywhere, and there's no risk of overdose. Yoga and Qigong (pronounced “chee-gung”) classes are also practices in mindfulness. Students are encouraged to be present and to listen to their bodies and their breath.
Over time, through practice, the task of quieting our minds and focusing becomes easier. This is especially important today “in an age of distraction and information overload. Technology has moved from our desktop to our pockets, and that evolution has increased our likelihood to be saturated by information and unable to adequately reflect” (Polgar 76). With our minds so overwhelmed, it is no wonder it has become so hard to study! The practice of Mindfulness can train us to ignore the distractions so we can focus on the problem.
The stress of problem-solving can also be reduced. When we let our minds run on autopilot, we often react on autopilot, meaning that judgments are often imposed automatically on everything that is encountered” (Shapiro 10). In a way, we are experiencing an alternate reality, one that comes with our personal baggage, our habits, and conditioned responses rather than true reality. This can cause a lot of stress as we try to solve problems because we are, essentially, working with false information. When we are mindful, we can see reality as it truly is, free of the binding of the past and the future. Being able to look at a situation clearly, without distraction, can turn a stressful event into one that is manageable.
With benefits like these, Mindfulness has helped the student population. According to www.mindful.net, a website dedicated to promoting the practice of mindfulness, practicing students have claimed benefits “as diverse as helping them cope with exam stress and sleep, to improving their performance in work and sport.” So, why not give it a try and see how it helps you. Take a moment and see what it's like to be mindful instead of mind full.
bethanderson. Mind full or Mindful? Image. Spiritual Practices II: Mindfulness. Unitarian Universalist Church of Fargo-Moorhead, 2 Oct 2013. Web. 4 Nov 2013.
Ma, Alakananda. “Yoga for the Mind.” Tathaastu Sep. 2013: 46-50. Print.
Polgar, David. “Are you Mentally Obese?” Tathaastu Mar. 2013: 74-8. Print.
Shapiro, Shauna and Linda Carlson. The art and science of mindfulness: Integrating mindfulness into
psychology and the helping professions. Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
"Everybody can be great because everybody can serve."
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
Let’s be honest –it is sometimes easy to feel like we don’t have a voice or we can’t impact or help fix the woes of the world. I’m a realist. I know that I am not going to single-handedly end world hunger tomorrow (even though that would be incredibly cool), but I do know that I can help hungry families in my community. Perhaps I won’t wake up and end global warming, but I could work to raise awareness about the causes and consequences of global warming. I could even contact a legislator and advocate for stronger environmental legislation or circulate a petition to support an environmental bill. We all have the ability to impact other individuals, strengthen our communities, create solutions to social problems, and shed light on social injustices. I know this and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. certainly knew this.
Monday, January 20, 2014, marks the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday (MLK Day). Dr. King spent his life serving others. He fought for the rights and justices of all people, and he inspired hundreds of thousands of people to stand with him in the Civil Rights Movement. In recognition of Dr. King’s legacy, Congress designated MLK Day as a day of service – a day for Americans to volunteer and come together to solve problems. A day to make a difference.
Many of us aren’t able to volunteer on MLK Day – and that’s okay. The spirit of MLK Day invites us to volunteer in our communities on any day. If you are wondering how you can squeeze volunteering into your schedule or why you should squeeze volunteering into your schedule, you should not feel guilty. It’s okay to ask, “What’s in it for me?” because the answer is – a lot is in it for you.
In addition to making a positive impact and helping others, volunteering brings personal, professional and social benefits. According to the United Way, volunteering can help you:
- Make important networking contacts
- Learn or develop skills
- Teach your skills to others
- Enhance your resume
- Gain work experience
- Build self-esteem and self-confidence
- Improve your health
- Meet new people
- Feel needed and valued
- Communicate to others that you are ambitious, enthusiastic and care about the community
- Express gratitude for help you may have received in the past from an organization
- Make a difference in someone's life
To find volunteer opportunities that interest you or to learn more about the many benefits of volunteering, you can check out the following websites:
If you have gotten some service on, please share your experience with us. Where'd you go? What'd you do? How did the experience impact you and others?
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Attention CCV students. Are you enrolled in a STEM field - science, technology, engineering or mathematics? Are you a first generation college student? A veteran? A student with a disability or from a minority group? If so, we encourage you to apply for the VT EPSCoR scholarhsip.
VT EPSCoR is pleased to announce the Native American and First Generation Student Scholarship Program. Their goal is to encourage a diverse group of talented students to pursue a degree in the STEM fields by awarding $5,000 scholarships to Vermont students enrolled in a college degree program.
- aVermont resident and United States citizen
- a graduating senior at a Vermont high school planning to attend a Vermont college during the next academic year, OR a current undergraduate enrolled in a degree program at a Vermont college or university, with a GPA of 3.0 or above
- enrolling or enrolled in a STEM major in college
- of Native American ancestry OR a first generation college student
Friday, December 6, 2013
Did you know there is a job search site where employers post opportunities specifically for CCV students? Yes, you have read correctly. Prospective employers who have career and internship opportunities specifically for community college students regularly post openings on CCV Career Connections, CCV's job and internship portal.
Over 40 job and internship opportunities have been added in the past month. Employers who have recently posted positions include:
- Central Vermont Community Action Council
- Chesire-Medical/Dartmouth Hitchcock-Keene
- Mount Snow
- Hutchins Media, LLC
- Peace and Justice Center
If you need to create a cover letter, revise your resume, or brush-up your interviewing skills, be sure to explore the resources on CCV’s Career Services webpages.
Good luck with your job search, and be sure to post a comment to let us know when you find a job or internship.