As you may know I am a second year Master of Public Health (MPH) student in the School of Public Health studying Health Behavior. One of the awesome features of my graduate program is that students have the opportunity to take a host of dynamic electives based on our interests. This semester I am taking a really fascinating elective course about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) that has broadened the way I view health and healing. Before I go any further, I want to take a moment to explain CAM in case you’re unfamiliar with the concept.
CAM is a collection of “diverse medical and health-care systems, practices, and products that are not generally considered to be part of conventional medicine” (NCCAM, 2008). Complementary medicine refers to therapies that can be used together with conventional medicine, while alternative medicine refers to therapies that are used in place of conventional medicine. Examples of CAM therapies include chiropractic, dietary, mind-body medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, healing touch and energy therapies, prayer, and herbal therapies. To learn more about these approaches please take look at the following reputable resources:
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- The Mayo Clinic
- BioMed Central
Now, that we’re all on the same page, let’s continue 🙂
One of the CAM class sessions that has resonated with me the most this semester was our class session on Mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally. To put another way, mindfulness requires remembering and awareness, it is a moment-to-moment experience, and it is open to whatever is. For more elaboration, check out the 5 minute YouTube below. It is an excellent introduction to the topic of mindfulness.
As I reflect, I realize that the Mindfulness class session resonated with me because it reminded me how busy life can be as a Carolina student. Take my own life has a graduate student as an example; a typical workday for me involves classes, work, group meetings, eating on the go, checking and sending emails from my computer and/or my iPhone, exercising, doing homework, checking my social media sites, calling my Mom and last but certainly not least, adding to my ever growing To Do list. Needless to say, multitasking has become a way of life for me. While this may seem excessive to some, on this campus, my daily agenda is really not that unique. As high achieving Carolina students I am sure you can relate to having mounting responsibilities for your school, work and personal lives. Maybe you have even experienced an all-nighter or felt overcommitted. With all our priorities and crossing things off our endless To Do lists when do we take a moment to just breathe and be mindful? When do we pause and have “me time”? When do we truly live in the moment? The answer for me was unfortunately, not often enough. So, recently, I made a pledge to myself to make a conscious effort to be more mindful. Instead of making this another To Do list item, I am making this a continuous journey, something I will strive towards becoming better at – and I invite you to join me!
So how can you start being mindful? Well, I am no expert, but here are a couple FREE resources that have be helped me so far. Feel free to check them out and share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.
1. 5 Ways To Bring Mindfulness Into Everyday Life
This blog post explains how to be more mindful during routine day-to-day activities that we usually do on “auto pilot” such as taking a shower, brushing your teeth, commuting, washing the dishes and standing in line.
2. 7 Tips For Bringing Mindfulness To Your Work Day
This blog post explains ways to be more mindful at work including doing one thing at a time, being present in your interaction with others, and putting reminder stickers in your work space.
3. The Headspace Mediation Podcasts
Series of short podcasts designed to help you use meditation and mindfulness to relax. Produced by Headspace as part of the Guardian’s Start Happy campaign
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) (2008, October) Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What’s In a Name?. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Retrieved October 20, 2013 from http://nccam.nih.gov/