What is the Stop, Breathe, and Think MIndfulness Challenge?
Last year, Campus and Student Resilience and the Mindful Awareness Research Center paired up with Stop, Breathe, and Think to host a five-day meditation challenge. The challenge is back this year and will be held week 6, starting today (February 12th) until the 16th, so sign up now to get started. Both last year and this year, the goal of the challenge has been to get more people involved with the practice of mindful meditation, and different variations of focus are to come in the future, since a Mindfulness Challenge will be taking place every quarter during week 6 from here on out! Now that’s a lot of resilience building. All students (undergraduate and graduate), faculty, staff, and alumni are invited to take part in the challenge.
What I Learned From the Challenge
I participated in the five-day Mindfulness Challenge last year and had a really great experience. I was introduced to meditation through the practice of yoga and my involvement with the Resilience Peer Network (RPN) on campus, but aside from these activities, I never practiced meditation, especially not on my own. When the Healthy Campus Initiative announced the Mindfulness Challenge, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to develop my own mindfulness practice.
The Challenge sends out meditation reminders every day, so it made it harder for me to forget to practice with everything else going on in my busy life. The challenge also offers incentives to keep you motivated throughout the week, such as raffle prizes that are awarded at the end of the five days to lucky winners that complete all five meditations. The messages also come with a link to a specific guided meditation that is geared towards that quarter’s focus, so I didn’t feel overwhelmed when I opened the Stop, Breathe, and Think app and saw all of the different meditation options (and, wow, there’s a lot of options!)
Knowing that a lot of people were participating in the challenge with me served as its own kind of motivation. It’s called the Mindfulness Challenge for a reason, because it is, indeed, a challenge. It challenged me to put aside a little bit of time each day for myself, to quiet my mind, and find a sense of calmness in my day. It challenged me to meditate, an act that many have not been heavily exposed to, to push me out of my daily routine, and to develop a new habit.
Last year, the challenge motivated me to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into my everyday routine, something that I have now continued one year later! I still have the Stop, Breathe, and Think app on my phone because I liked it so much after being introduced to it in the Mindfulness Challenge. I even have three other apps downloaded as well, just to spice my meditation practice up a bit. The challenge caused me to make a New Year’s resolution of sorts, one that came after January 1st, but a good one all the same. The Mindfulness Challenge is a great way to dip your feet into the ocean that is meditation and the mind-body connection. It’s like an introductory course that helps show people the ropes to mindfulness, one day at a time. Incorporating mindful meditation into my everyday schedule is one of my favorite things I have done for myself, and it all started with this challenge.
What I Hope for This Year
This year, I’m approaching the challenge with intentions that are a bit changed from the previous year. I’m hoping to dedicate a little extra time to mindfulness than I already do, to push myself to set more time aside to check in with myself. I look forward to taking short breaks at times of the day that I don’t usually meditate, to explore my own practice further and refine it so it fits me best. I also want to get more people involved with the practice of meditation, so I’m looking to the challenge to do all of the convincing for me, after I recruit as many people as I can. Join me and sign up now to see what the challenge can do for you.
Aubrey Freitas is an undergraduate student at UCLA double majoring in English Literature and Psychology with a minor in Italian. She is a blogger for the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative in the Mind Well section, which focuses on the importance of mindfulness and mental health. Aubrey is the founder of the organization Warm Hearts to Warm Hands, which teaches the skill of knitting to people of the community in return for their donation of an article of clothing they create with the skill, to be given to local homeless shelters.