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Freshmen Diaries: Living Mindfully on the Hilltop

I’ve been here for four weeks, and that’s amazing to me in that it feels like it’s been both less time than that and much, much more. I’ve found many amazingly caring friends already, and the fifth floor of Harbin feels very much like home. As we’re finally settling in here, I find myself getting caught up in the every day schedule, the to-do’s, the meetings, and the hyper speed at which Georgetown seems to run.

The ideas I’m about to provide are also pieces of advice to myself. I’ve always been interested in ideas generated by Buddhism, and a key word in Buddhist practice is doing things mindfully. Even when life is moving at the speed of light, it’s possible to live mindfully and gain more enjoyment from your day. I’m certainly not following my own advice perfectly yet either, but at least this is what I’ve been trying to do as life here picks up speed!

1) Wander into the used bookstore.
I went to CVS the other day to have a prescription filled, and after 45 minutes of waiting my frustration was such that I left the store with not only my medication but with a large bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups. I took P Street on the way back and on a whim stopped in The Lantern, a used and rare bookshop. It’s an intimate shop with hundreds of books, and it was comforting wandering the stacks and picking up both familiar and unfamiliar titles (the prices are extremely cheap as well). Going into The Lantern was probably a better decision for stress relief over the Reese’s. In any case, I highly recommend strolling in next time you’re on the way back from Wisconsin, even if just for the smell of books. You might walk out with a comforting treasure as well.

2) Take in a beautiful day (enjoy your walk to class).
Sure, you might be in a hurry on your way to class, but as you powerwalk around campus with your heavy backpack and mental list of to do’s, take in the beauty of the campus, the cool change in weather, how nice it feels to be moving around. Yes, it’s beyond cheesy, but we should all be grateful to be here and to get to breathe in a new day.

3) Sink into your classes.
Even if you have no idea what you want to major in yet, hopefully you’re taking at least one class that you’re excited about. Next time all your friends are in class and you actually have little choice but to get some work done, do the reading for the class you’re enjoying, and really sink into it. You’re not here to get a degree. You’re here to take in new knowledge and hopefully enjoy it in the process. There’s no shame in liking a class. Do your reading mindfully and notice that it’s actually interesting.

4) Eat by the waterfront.
You might know from my last post that one of my fears is graduating from Georgetown feeling like I never really left campus. You don’t need a whole Saturday afternoon to go explore the city—just step out the front gates for an hour. Grab some pals who have a break between classes with you and go eat by the waterfront. It’ll be too cold to do so pretty soon, so take advantage of the cooler weather and watch the boats go by.

5) Walk by yourself.
Whether or not you consider yourself an introvert, having some time alone is important. When you live with several thousand other undergraduates, though, it can be hard to have “me” time. So don’t be afraid if you have the opportunity to walk alone, whether you’re on your way to class or strolling to Safeway. Good solitary walks often have the same effect as a hot shower—ideas come to you more clearly, and your mind will feel a bit less foggy when you’re done.

Fellow freshmen collegiates, we’ve been here a month, and if you’re first few weeks are going anything like mine, there are days of happiness and feeling like you belong, and there are days of homesickness and emotional struggle. Remember: it’s been four weeks. No one expects you to have everything figured out yet. Don’t expect that from yourself. Take in the beginning of autumn and try to take advantage of each new day. I’m not saying it’s easy (I’m struggling with it too!), but living mindfully can make all the difference in the world.

 

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