Mandie Montes/Courier Samantha Salomon poses near the campus flower garden near the Center for the Arts at PCC on Wednesday, April 4, 2018.
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On a warm day, atop the grassy patches near the library and C building, sits Samantha Salomon adorned with flowers while sun rays beam off of her. As her portrait is about to be taken, there is a wave of unexpected heat, that is quickly masked by the wind causing the flowers sitting in between her arms to fall nonchalantly into place. Salomon is no stranger to the outdoors, as she enjoys spending her time outside, especially now that spring has rolled around on campus with flowers and nature blooming. While on campus, she balances her busy schedule as a college student and personal time by partaking in mindfulness activities which allow her to get to know herself.

Salomon grew up with social anxiety, which she says prevented her from being able to talk to her peers when she was in elementary school. Since then, her relationship with mindfulness has grown from journaling to meditation.

“I had to take time in my daily routine to focus on me and get to know myself first,” said Salomon. “Journaling was mindfulness to me and helped me through my anxiety.”

Though the topic of mindfulness certainly isn’t new, on campus, Salomon has begun to talk about it to her peers, even hosting two mindfulness workshops with Professor Yuet-Ling O’Connor to bring this topic to the foreground of college students’ mental health.

“When I was deciding what I wanted to do for my events this semester, I really wanted to focus on self-care,” said Salomon. “One of the best ways that I know how to care for myself is through mindfulness [and] I wanted to extend that knowledge to my peers.”

Mindfulness isn’t something that can be attained tangibly, but rather one’s ability to be fully present and aware of what is going on around themselves, without getting overwhelmed with the distraction of technology or commotion of a packed college campus. For Salomon, the need to talk about mindfulness is important, especially on college campuses where students are preoccupied with academics, clubs, and social outings and don’t seem to be taking a break to breathe and practice self-care.

“Mindfulness is generally a topic that isn’t discussed enough,” said Salomon. “Mindfulness can be anything, it doesn’t have to be meditation.”

The ways in which students can take time for themselves varies from taking naps to going on walks to journaling – each as important and necessary to destress students. During Salomon’s mindfulness workshop, Professor O’Connor practiced meditation, guiding attendees through exercises where they could feel at peace with themselves and above all, present.

“I try to meditate once or twice a week,” said Salomon. “It does take a lot of effort and actual practice [but] I think [meditation] is a very practical way to take time for yourself.”

Now, Salomon wants to use her personal experiences with mindfulness to help other peers and let them know that there is nothing more important than being present and taking a break every now and then to find peace and comfort.

“To get started on mindfulness you just have to start somewhere, anywhere that you feel comfortable and grow yourself from there,” said Salomon. “Start somewhere and do your best, that’s all you can do.”

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