Donna Rockwell Tells Students to Focus on the Present in Mindfulness Presentation

Dr. Donna Rockwell, a psychologist, researcher and meditation teacher, invited Ramapo students, faculty and community members on Thursday to ease their troubled minds and take a break from their daily stresses with an informative and interactive workshop on the practice of mindfulness, hosted by the Krame Center for Contemplative Studies and Mindful Living.

Rockwell’s mission, according to her website, is stated as, “Rather than viewing behavioral symptoms as illness-related, Dr. Rockwell helps clients heighten mental clarity and lessen psychological confusion by deconstructing existing blocks to meaningful engagement in work, love and play.”

During her speech at Ramapo, she labeled the daily incorporation of mindfulness as a “common sense approach to life."

Rockwell tied in Buddhist teachings into her speech, as well as the belief in the Four Noble Truths, which are the basic foundations of Buddhism. They collectively express that life on Earth is unsatisfactory, but freedom can be found from the cycle of life and death.

She divulged that, "suffering and stress is inherent in life, that stress has a cause and that the way out is the practice of being present in each and every moment. If we are not living in the present, then we are either obsessing over the past or projecting into the future. As humans, it's important to tap into our conscious thoughts, not to poke and prod at each and every one, but to take a step back and be a constant observer."

According to Rockwell, by separating ourselves from the grocery line of stressful thoughts in our lives, we experience heightened mental control, emotional regulation and immune response.

“When we are in the present moment, we are enlightened," she said.

Throughout the evening, she took attendees through some simple meditation exercises meant to be squeezed into brief periods of pause throughout the day. Toward the end of the program, Rockwell was asked about the practice of daily mindfulness meditation among college students who struggle with anxiety and depression.

She was further asked about the influx of antidepressants among young people, and she indicated that mindfulness meditation practice can be used alongside these drugs, or even in place of if practiced regularly.

Rockwell added, “Having a mindfulness practice can only help us come back from depression and anxiety."

While the practice in itself seems foolproof, she indicated that there are some pitfalls to look out for, including self-loathing and the destructive thought of, “I’m not a good meditator." The practice takes patience and one only improves with time, noted Rockwell.

Rockwell encouraged the audience to take these tactics with them into their daily lives and to approach everything from that outside observer perspective.