Rachel Silverman, The Daily Pennsylvanian: This time of year life on campus can be dreary. Finals week is rapidly approaching and trekking through the snow and wind on Superblock often feels like a life or death struggle.
Yesterday afternoon, several dozen students cast aside their bulkpacks and coffee cups to escape these undeniable realities — through the art of meditation.
Robert Mawson, a certified meditation instructor, led the group in a 30-minute relaxation exercise in the Hamilton College House rooftop lounge.
Participating students came with varying levels of experience with meditation, but many said they enjoyed the event.
“I’m a practicing Buddhist and haven’t been able to go anywhere to do meditation,” College freshman Terra Gearhart said….
Even for first-timers like Engineering senior Brian Lau, the event was time well spent.
“I didn’t do it exactly right but I was still able to relax,” he said.
According to the instructor, meditation can provide clarity and understanding to those who practice regularly.
“When you meditate, things are much clearer for you,” he said. “You will see solutions to problems instead of problems that are insurmountable.”
For Mawson, meditation practice offers escape from the daily grind.
“From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed your mind is bombarded will all kinds of stimuli,” he explained. “You can get rid of the junk in your brain through meditating.”
Mawson also credits meditation with certain curative abilities.
“I know personally and from personal experience those who meditate get well before those who do not,” he told audience members.
Mawson noted he has survived a heart transplant, multiple cardiac arrests and surgery without anesthesia by relying on meditation exercise.
In spite of health difficulties, Mawson has led quite a life.
Originally from a “poor, coal-mining town in Northeast England,” he has, among other things, lived with Eskimos in Greenland, become a deep sea diver, hiked all over India, learned seven languages and spent time as a practicing monk in Thailand.
Currently 60 years old, Mawson works for the Dhammakaya Foundation, a nonreligious, nonprofit group committed to teaching meditation. He also holds relaxation seminars at the United Nations and power walks eight miles daily.
The Thai Students Association and the Office of Health Education collaborated to bring Mawson to campus.
Engineering sophomore Ron Wallach called for more such stress-relieving activities at Penn.
“The University should offer group meditation sessions throughout the year,” he said.