What is Mindfulness with Cosette “Coco” Turvold ’21

In this series we ask people around campus what mindfulness means to them and how they are surviving and thriving in the new circumstances we find ourselves in. Here, we talk to Cosette “Coco” Turvold ’21

What does mindfulness mean to you?
Mindfulness is grounding, appreciative practices that help you connect your mind and body. The most successful way to practice mindfulness is breathing and sensory awareness activities.

How is mindfulness different from calmness or relaxation?
Mindfulness is not being calm/relaxed, because you are still breathing, using your senses without paying attention to them. Mindful practices emphasize conscious sensory practices, ones that you focus on breathing or senses while deliberately controlling or noticing them.

How does mindfulness help at a time like this of uncertainty and worry?
Mindfulness can help at a time like this, because it feels really good to forget about everything going on for a few moments. It helps me take my eyes off of electronics too, which has been a struggle for me during this time. It can change your mindset for the day, putting a bit of positivity in your life when you’re having a bad day.

What are some of your favorite practices that you’re leaning on at this time?
One of my favorite practices is Tangerine Meditation. Before you open a tangerine, imagine the tangerine tree it came from with all the blossoms in the sunshine and in the rain. Visualize the growth process; this tangerine grew on a tree and it ended up in your hand! What a miracle! Tear off a small part, close your eyes and smell it, appreciate the energy the smell stirs within you. Is your mouth watering? Take mindful bites, noticing the texture, the shape of the fruit, the way the juice spills into your mouth, the things you enjoy about this experience. Enjoy the tangerine with your eyes closed; you can see the universe in just a tangerine. You can take your time eating a tangerine and be very happy. This practice can be applied to any meal, be sure to turn off music/tv other distractions in the background. If you can be present with any activity you’re doing! Get into your warm bed, lay there for two minutes, close your eyes and notice your breath. A moment with yourself is always a mindful moment!

What suggestions can you offer to someone who might be struggling to be mindful now?
My suggestion is that you shouldn’t feel pressured to practice mindfulness in a specific way! You can create your own version of mindfulness. Take a walk in the grass with bare feet, close your eyes and breathe for a minute before a lecture, close your eyes and really appreciate your food, feel into the warmth of the blanket that you have wrapped around you. Mindfulness is about being present with your breath and senses, get creative with it to find what works best for you!

What resources does CC offer that can help those right now who want to cultivate mindfulness?
CC offers the Wellness Resource Center and the Counseling Center with lots of online resources! Outside of CC, you can find endless online resources like books or websites that specialize in finding the right practice for you. My favorite book about mindfulness is “Peace is Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hanh, I’ve learned so much from it. Best wishes to everyone reading this, and I hope you find the right mindfulness practice for you!