In week 6 we all took a survey called the, Social Emotional Learning Scale (SEL), which tests how a person can manage their emotions. The lectures showed studies done on children and how they are raised and what situations affected their ability to control their emotions. We also started to talk about Mindfulness.
In week 7 we really focused on Mindfulness, which was my favorite topic so far. I have been reading a book outside of class called, ‘The Mindful Athlete’, by George Mumford who was the sports physiologist for those iconic 90’s Bulls teams. The timing worked out perfectly and that week really connected for me. One of my favorite bits of my book is when he is talking about how most athletes before a game during the national anthem are thinking about the game, they are nervous, they are going over strategy in their head and many other things. He says the Mindful athlete has a clear head, they notice the flag, they take in the weather, they are totally present. I find the more I have applied mindfulness to my life the more happy and productive I have become. Generally when I anticipate the future in my athletics I imagine the worst possible outcome. However when I can remain mindful, my performance improves and I take on each task as it comes. This lets my athleticism take over and I play more free. I have also applied mindfulness outside the diamond into my everyday life. I am better about being off my phone when I walk around campus, I have noticed details around campus that I have never seen before just by staying off my technology.
Week 7 and 8 tied right into each other very nicely because week 8 focused on research done about the negative effects on mental health associated with our smart phones. We are so distracted by our phones we are the opposite of mindful. We are always living in someone else’s life absorbing their experiences while not enjoying our own. The studies done about the negative effects of smartphones especially on college campuses were alarming. Just like week 7, week 8 applied directly to my own life. I have really been trying to illuminate my smartphone usage and one step I have taken is taking the social media apps off my phone. This way the only way I can access that content is through my laptop. While I can still access social media it is much harder to reach and it keeps it off my mind. I find it to be so rewarding to not engaged with social media so much. In very recent past I would find myself on social media for hours a day and gained nothing productive from it and it ultimately made me feel bad about myself for wasting so much time. In a research article sent to us for class reading we learned that excess smartphone usage affected sleep negatively, gave people depression, and anxiety.
In week 9 we learned how to thrive in all types of relationships. We focused mostly on romantic partner relationships. A director from the Wellness center at VCU spoke to use all week, which is a great person to talk to us because the Well has councilors who help students with this. They help students with partner abuse whether that is physical or emotional and offer help and solutions to take care of themselves. We learned how people tend to base their relationships of relationships we see in the media, which means we often complicate the simple.
In week 10 we have just been learning about addiction and substance use disorder. We have covered the science behind why we feel tat pleasure and why it can be easy for people to become addicted. Drugs can over stimulate our, “reward circuit”, in our brain so it can make use feel great in the minute. The drug that we get is called dopamine and the levels are so high its almost impossible to replicate that without drugs.
What we have learned in prior weeks in this course has helped me understand the new content we are learning more effectively. In week 2, we did assignment with a family tree and learned how not just physical but also neurological traits get passed down from generation to generation. In week 10, we learned a lot about addiction and substance abuse, and those problems can be more or less probable for everyone based on the way they are wired. We are born with a bunch of genes that will either make us more or less likely to become addicted to a substance.
Something I can really appreciate about this course is how applicable it is to my life especially as a busy college student. I mentioned above the book I am reading that has translated with me because it’s a book on mindfulness with athletes and then we did a week on mindfulness. I also frequently listen to podcast that generally deal with self-improvement. I am fascinated with successful people in life and how they got to be where they are. I listen to Ben Bergeron podcast, Jocko Podcast, and the Joe Rogan Experience. They all bring guests on frequently or infrequently but something that is constant with their guests and themselves is the correlation between their success and their morning routine/meditation. Most of these people routinely meditate just like something we would do before class. I have taken on the challenge over the last four weeks to wake up at 7am everyday and practice consistent meditation and prayer. While I have not been perfect in this pursuit I have experienced so many benefits. Just the discipline in general has made a huge difference and has carried over into so many areas in my life from my relationships, to my baseball, and my studies.