Candice Warren, The South End Newspaper, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan: Dr. Steven Schoeberlein, of Wayne State University’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center, talked Wednesday about the importance of keeping stress at bay during a workshop on the fifth floor of the Student Center Building.
Schoeberlein demonstrated in a stress reduction workshop how stress can be reduced and how attention can be enhanced through a practice called “mindful meditation.”
He addressed a group of six people and discussed the benefits of mindful meditation and afterwards led the group in a brief meditation exercise.
In the discussion part of the workshop, Schoeberlein highlighted the importance of calming the mind.
“The idea is you’re going to learn how to slow your mind, be aware of your thoughts and be able to focus your attention somewhere,” he said.
Schoeberlein said that mindfulness was paying attention in a particular way.
“It’s about learning how the mind wanders,” he said.
The wandering of the mind should not be seen as a mistake or a failure, he pointed out. It is normal.
According to the Mindful Living Web site, mindfulness is the cultivation of non-judgmental, non-reactive, present-moment awareness.
The Web site stated that practicing mindfulness includes meditation and present-moment awareness during daily activities.
Schoeberlein mentioned multi-tasking as not being in the present. He said it was likely in American culture for people to have several tasks going on at once.
Schoeberlein also said not to believe everything you think. It could lead to anxiety.
He demonstrated what he called the “raisin exercise.”
He told everyone to imagine that there was a raisin in his or her hand and to imagine what it looked like. He then told everyone to put it up to his or her nose and smell it. Afterward, he said to imagine what it would taste like.
Schoeberlein explained that he was teaching how to bring attention and awareness to what one is doing.
He said that mindful meditation is particularly useful for artists and schoolteachers. Teachers who practice the technique don’t feel as burned out.
He said that mindful meditation helps people to become more connected to one another.
“If you’re not in the moment and paying attention to people, you’re not going to pick up on how people express themselves,” he said.
According to shinzen.org, a Web site that gives information on meditation, mindful meditation can lead to more efficient studying for students, increased ability in problem solving and acquisition of skills such as language.
Schoeberlein said that anyone can meditate.
“Kindergartners can meditate,” he said, speaking from his experience working with them. “They do it pretty well.”
Schoeberlein said that with meditation, there is the common belief that one will have a lofty experience or a great zone of enlightenment.
The group engaged in a type of meditation derived from Buddhist training that he said comes from focusing on the breath.
The meditation started off with Schoeberlein telling everybody to sit quietly, close their eyes, and focus on the abdominal wall.
Mindful meditation requires one to sit in a comfortable position, with the back upright.
“In order to be in the present, you have to have an anchor to that present [moment],” he said.
Schoeberlein said focusing on the abdominal wall serves as the anchor.
Attention is to be focused on the rising of the abdominal wall with each inhale, and the recession of it with each exhale.
As the mind wanders from the breathing and one has realized it, then one should reconnect to the present moment. In other words, one should reconnect his or her focus back on the breathing. The reconnecting may happen several times, according to the Mindfulness of the Breath guide.
The meditation can continue up to 15 minutes or longer.
At the end of the meditation, Schoeberlein asked if any of the group members would share their experience.
Kim Werth, who works in CAPS, was one of the group members who shared how she used the breathing as an anchor to the present.
“I threw this mint in my mouth before I sat down here, and I was salivating and salivating,” she said. “I was trying to become aware of my bodily sensations and what was happening and being aware of all the saliva in my mouth and it just stopped.”
“My mind would wander and 30 seconds later, “where’s my breath?” she said.
Schoeberlein said he intends to do more mindful meditation workshops in the future.