Guest Post: Anonymous Student
My first experience with mindfulness occurred when I was 18 and in a rehabilitation hospital for three months. Yes – rehab. Eight other patients and I sat at an arts and crafts table while the doctors passed a bottle of lotion around the room and asked us to squirt some in our hands. They required us to close our eyes and be aware of our bodies and our minds. They told us to be silent and pay attention to how the lotion felt against the curves of our fingers and hands. They asked us to just live in the present moment and be mindful.
I can recall this exercise quite clearly. I remember hearing the sound of my breadth, the ticking of the clock and the slight creak of the other patients shifting in their chairs. But I didn’t get it – how was this supposed to cure my eating disorder? How was this going to help me overcome anorexia?
Though my initial confrontation with mindfulness wasn’t particularly profound, I quickly came to realize that mindfulness could be effective for coping with the stress and anxiety of everyday life. Essentially, mindfulness is an exercise of awareness that requires a person to be acutely alert and conscious of their surroundings and actions. The act of going through through a normal humdrum, familiar routine without a thought otherwise is an example of what mindfulness is not.
So when I learned that we were going to be learning about mindfulness for a college media ethics course, I was transported back to my mindfulness sessions in rehab. Like when I was when first introduced to the concept, I was puzzled – how did mindfulness relate to media ethics?
But as I dissected the idea more, it made some sense. As members of Marquette University’s College of Communication, my fellow classmates and I are taught how to create or influence the media. Being mindful of all the different events, ideas and trends happening in the world is an essential attribute of an ethical and successful media practitioner. Instead of just contributing to the media hype and the typicality of the news cycle, practitioners need to be aware of the content they distribute to the masses – especially today. It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in the entertainments aspect of the media. Viral videos and trending stories are fun to tweet about or create, however they may not be the issue or story necessary for an informed electorate.
For me, mindfulness is linked to media ethics in this way. Mindfulness can be used in a variety of ways – to combat stress or as a tool to become more present in the current moment. However, it can also be used to create insightful content and investigative reports about issues and events not recognized in the mainstream news media. Mindfulness may not be directly related to media ethics, but the practice of it can be helpful when discerning what stories and ideas deserve to be promoted in the media.