Wildmind Meditation News
Feb 24, 2011
Meditation as a doable, daily dose of mental wellness
When you think of the word “meditation,” you might imagine a guru sitting under a tree for several hours, just breathing. Or maybe you think, “I don’t have time to sit and do nothing; I have so many things to get done.”
That’s what I used to think. I was the person who always wanted to meditate, but every time I tried, I could never stick to a practice. That is, until I went to the Helen Hills Hills Chapel’s weekly meditation group, which meets every Monday from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Yes, the concept is similar. We do sit quietly for an hour, but the environment is open and accepting of all different meditation backgrounds – whether you practice an hour a day or are a complete beginner.
Interfaith Program Coordinator for the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life Hayat Nancy Abuza defines meditation as “involving the shifting of attention to a still point of focus, with the aim of increasing calm and peacefulness.” The idea sounds simple, she said, but meditation isn’t necessarily easy. Like any activity, “practice will help.”
Practicing meditation does not have to involve sitting on a cushion for an hour. According to Abuza, “one can meditate while walking to class, before sleep, doing yoga, while…
standing in line at the post office and while eating.”
Yes, even eating.
Abuza encourages students to attend the “Mindful Munching” lunch workshop in the King/Scales private dining room on March 7, 21 and 28. Eating meditation can be particularly helpful for those who chow down on Smith’s pierogies on their way to Neilson.
Any kind of meditation can help alleviate stress, improve sleep, and mental focus overtime, stated Abuza. It’s especially good for students who can get wrapped up in the whirlwind of homework, extra-curricular activities, jobs and internships.
“Even for a short time, it is very valuable in a hectic setting like Smith to learn to leave behind one’s outer concerns and focus on one’s inner life,” Abuza explained.
Alex Grubb ’11 agrees.
“When I know I have to stay up late to do homework but am really tired, I meditate on my bed or in the shower and it’s very rejuvenating and it helps clear my mind,” Abuza and Grubb are not alone in their opinion on the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. Research suggests that meditation has potential psychological and physical benefits. In a study conducted by the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers found that subjects with generalized anxiety disorder were able to reduce their symptoms of anxiety by following a meditation-based stress reduction program.
While Smith students might not have the opportunity to participate in a formal program, just a few minutes of mediation a day can be very helpful. I recently started meditating five minutes a day, five days a week, for five weeks, called the “5-5-5″ meditation practice, that Zen Buddhist Priest Ryumon Baldoquin described to me in December.
While I know that I won’t reach nirvana anytime soon, the five minutes do calm me down after a long day of studying.
So how does one begin to meditate? There is always Google, where you are bound to find millions of sources just by typing “meditation” in the search box.
Or, you could drop in on Monday’s meditation. Led by Baldoquin, the hour-long practice includes tips on how to sit with good posture as well as a walking meditation. The environment is safe, accepting and open – an hour to breathe, walk slowly or just sit peacefully before tackling the mountain of homework. Grubb said.