I was smarter when I was mindful (by Sam Coten)

Sam Coten is a pre-law student from Perth.

I know that correlation doesn’t prove causation. I know that it’s easier to argue objectivity than subjectivity. But I feel like there’s a correlation between how often I mediate and how smart I am. Because dare I say, I was smarter when I was mindful. Okay perhaps I wasn’t necessarily more intelligent than I am now– perhaps I wasn’t quite as knowledgable as I am now, but I certainly felt much smarter. When I practised mindfulness regularly, my life felt more together; I felt in control.

Mindfulness is arguably the catchword of contemporary psychology. Mindfulness refers to the lucid awareness of events and experiences: anything from something as demanding as sitting in a complete meditative state, to focusing all one’s awareness on eating a piece of chocolate; focusing on the flavour, the texture, the sensation of salivation. In short, mindfulness is practicable in any such passive tasks that involve the simple focusing of one’s awareness.

Mindfulness is good news for us type-A personalities that study and practise law, because it provides a realistic means of coping with anxiety overload. During my later years of high school, I noticed a clear correlation between my grades and my frequency of mindfulness. The raw, blunt truth is that I undoubtedly performed better during periods of regular mindfulness. And when I say regular mindfulness, I’m referring to about 5 minutes of mindfulness a day. I focused my thinking mindfully and meditated everyday– there are plenty of apps and YouTube videos that help with this. When I was most mindful, I was less anxious than I’d ever been. But most impressively, I felt smarter than I’d ever been.

I’m not nearly as mindful as I once was. In fact, I hardly ever meditate these days. But when things get a little rough, mindfulness is the direction in which I steer myself. When life is in peak period and deadlines are approaching (generally all at once), I turn to mindfulness– just five minutes of it. Because after all, I spend an hour in the gym each day looking after my body, so what’s an extra five minutes worth when it comes to looking after my mind?

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