meditation in universities

It’s brain science: University fights binge drinking with meditation

Susan Donaldson James, NBCNews: A song by U2 blares from loudspeakers as Dr. James Hudziak tosses a brain-shaped football back and forth to students, calling them out by name as they file in to the University of Vermont lecture hall.

The neuroscience course, “Healthy Brains, Healthy Bodies,” is about to begin, first with meditation, then the latest research on the benefits of clean living.

The class is part of a pioneering program — Wellness Environment or WE, which is anchored in four pillars of health: exercise, nutrition, mindfulness and mentorship.

Last year, the university accepted 120 …

Read the original article »

Read More

University of Texas psychology professor spreads meditation techniques, medical benefits

Hannah Smothers, Daily Texan: There is a calming stillness that resonates throughout the third floor of the Sarah M. and Charles E. Seay Building. Aside from the occasional drumming of footsteps or the rare interruption of a ringing telephone, the halls and rooms are devoid of sound.

Such tranquility isn’t necessarily out of character for a psychology clinic, but the peacefulness can also be attributed to one of its staff members.

Dr. David Collins, administrative associate for the Department of Psychology, has two master’s degrees in religious studies and a doctorate in clinical psychology, but he considers his practice of meditation as his …

Read the original article »

Read More

Meditation: the new medication

Kenneth Pham, Technician Online: Thanks to pop-culture representations, meditation is seen as something that takes place in the isolation of a lush forest at the top of a Himalayan mountain. Those who practice the delicate art know one does not have to be alone or in an exotic location to meditate.

Billy Juliani, a junior in philosophy and the president of N.C. State’s Buddhist Philosophy Club, defined meditation as the practice of “living in the present moment and being aware of what’s around us.”

“It reduces stress and anxiety and promotes a more peaceful and thoughtful approach to looking at the world,” Juliani said …

Read the original article »

Read More

Meditation as a doable, daily dose of mental wellness

wildmind meditation news

Hannah Trumbo, Smith College Sophian: 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.

Original article no longer available


Wildmind is a Community-Supported Meditation Initiative. Click here to find out about the many benefits of being a sponsor.

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.

Read More

Living Well: Quieting the mind can boost the body (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Bob Condor, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: You’ve seen those small, water-filled globes that you shake up to simulate snow falling inside the scene. Dr. Mark Abramson wants you to think about those globes the next time you feel a bit frazzled or stressed out.

Like, oh, today or tomorrow as we go careering into the holiday weekend. There are just so many hours to wrap presents and wrap up work projects. Or to see friends and relatives while seeing to all of the details.

“We live in daily worlds that seem to always be shaken up,” says Abramson, who teaches mindfulness meditation and stress-reduction classes at Stanford University’s Center for Integrative Medicine. “We rarely feel settled. Starting a meditation practice is a way to resettle ourselves.”

Abramson is way ahead of you, because you likely are thinking that meditation is too hard, you’re never very good at it, there’s not enough time … have I mentioned the right reason yet?

“The first thing I address in any class is debunking the myths of meditation,” said Abramson, who teaches several “Mindfulness and Heartfulness” weekend courses at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Calif. “Historically, when meditation first came to the U.S., there was the idea that it leads to a trancelike state in which you develop super powers.”

Just not the case, said Abramson.

“What people find is they can’t stop their flow of thoughts as they try to meditate and quiet the mind,” said Abramson. “They think they are failing. They think everyone else is able to do it.”

Just not the case.

“There is just no stopping our thoughts,” said Abramson. “It’s not going to happen and it’s not necessary.”

Instead, Abramson practices a form of meditation called “mindfulness” that simply urges you to be mindful of those thoughts, that you are having them, that you may be distracted. You can even practice mindfulness on your last-minute shopping trips this week or over the weekend when a relative at the holiday table is, well, annoying you.

The aim of mindfulness is to be more aware of your body and your mind. Stopping to recognize your anxiety levels in itself slows stress hormones.

Abramson doesn’t want his students to set rigid goals for meditation. The idea is to “tap into whatever experience is going on inside of yourself.” Staying mindful becomes easier because there is no right or wrong way of doing it.

Abramson’s association with Stanford is no aberration. Meditation has become subject for many academic researchers looking to increase what we know about the mind-body connection. Some examples: The University of Massachusetts has a large-scale stress reduction program used at its medical center. UCLA scientists are evaluating whether meditation techniques can help individuals with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

An Indiana State researcher, Jean Kristeller recently was awarded a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to explore whether mindfulness meditation can help decrease the alarming rate of obesity in the U.S. by helping to curb eating binges.

“The focus of this research is to help people more effectively internalize control about eating through meditation,” said Kristeller, who has been a meditation researcher for 25 years. “Not only do they learn better to control their eating habits, but they don’t have to struggle with it as much. They don’t have the temptations that usually exist because they simply don’t want to overeat.”

For his part, Abramson said a meditation starts with awareness of breath. A taped meditation he provides to students even acknowledges that the mind is likely to wander.

“Just bring it back to being aware of your breathing,” explained Abramson. “Notice that your mind wandered, then refocus on your breath.”

Next, Abramson suggests a body scan. Start with your feet. What do you feel? Then your calves and shins, the knees and on up through the body and head. Make any number of stops.

It’s possible you won’t feel much at all in some parts of the body. That’s OK, said Abramson.

“That’s information,” he said. “You want to learn from your meditation practice.”

Not feeling parts of your body reinforces the need for connecting the mind and body. So does lots of activity or stress. It is healthful simply to know that your mind is racing or your shoulders and neck feel tight. You can do a body scan in seconds.

After the body scan, Abramson suggests checking in with all of your senses and any emotions you may be feeling. If a noise is distracting you, be mindful of it. If you are sad about not being with a loved one this holiday, be mindful of it. Honor all of the senses and emotions, then let go and refocus on your breathing.

Abramson was trained as a dentist who now specializes in patients with head and neck pain. He came to mindfulness early if accidentally. As a 14-year-old, a serious auto accident put him in bed for 10 weeks. During recovery he decided to pay attention to his considerable pain and suffering, that it might teach him something. As a dental student, he learned about the more formal art of mindfulness meditation and “realized I was already doing it.”

His Stanford classes are filled with patients referred by physicians to help address such conditions as heart disease, cancer, chronic pain, along with “Silicon Valley executives who realize if they keep up their current pace and lifestyle they will get sick.” He works with plenty of beginners.

“My students jump right into practices of 45 minutes a day,” said Abramson. “But I tell them if they can’t find 45 minutes, then even 15 minutes can be effective. Meditation practice gives you the choice of deciding who you are. It starts with being kind to yourself every day.”

Original article no longer available…

Read More

Meditation and yoga help bust stress (Minnesota Daily)

Ching Lo, Minnesota Daily, University of Minnesota: A new stress-relief class is helping some students at the University ease their worries through meditation and yoga.

The Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program teaches participants how to manage stress better. The University’s Center for Spirituality and Healing organized the program, and it is open to the public.

The second group of participants began the eight-week program this week, learning how to relax more, understand stress and find peace of mind.

“It’s about learning to trust your inner resources — healing from within,” instructor Terry Pearson said.

Each course meets weekly for two hours, and participants are urged to practice meditation and yoga techniques at home.

Two sessions are offered this fall, and approximately 25 people are participating. Enrollment costs $325.

Jane Wobken, a University scientist, finished the course this summer and said it’s a good way to release stress.

“I established a routine, and I have the daily reminders to be mindful,” Wobken said.

Practicing yoga or meditation outside the class helped, she said.

“Yoga tries to get people to come into their bodies,” Pearson said. “Meditation tries to quiet the mind. You are practicing to be in this moment.”

Pearson said some participants have told her the course changed their lives.

Some take the course by request of physicians. Pearson said some patients were able to stop taking medications after taking the course.

University student Michelle Trotter said she felt satisfied after taking the first course this summer. It set a strong foundation for mindful thinking, she said.

“As a student, it offered me to be more mindful through the stress of school,” Trotter said. “I learned to turn inwards, to take time for myself and to slow down.”

She said anyone could use his or her time to be aware of occurrences around them.

“The goal is to be aware of the things happening or done, and not just doing it,” Wobken said.

The program began at the University of Massachusetts in 1979. Organizers said the class can help people with challenges varying from mental disorders to fatal diseases.

Original article no longer available…

Read More

Counseling and Psychological Services explores meditation as a stress reduction tool (The South End Newspaper, Detroit, MI)

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, 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.

Original article no longer available…

Read More

How Buddhism was reincarnated (The Toronto Star, Canada)

Eslie Scrivener, Toronto Star, Canada: In exile, Tibet’s lamas adapted to West Timing perfect for spiritual revolution

By rights, Tibetan Buddhism should have faded like the dying light in a thousand butter lamps before a thousand knowing Buddhas. But something extraordinary happened after the Dalai Lama rode a mountain pony into exile in 1959, disguised as a soldier, his glasses in his pocket: Tibetan Buddhism found a new incarnation.

Not in the monasteries — the Chinese invaders took care to burn them. Not in the memories of monks and nuns — thousands were imprisoned or murdered. Not in secret, feudal Tibet at all — the Chinese ruthlessly dragged the land into the 20th century. But in Europe and the United States and Canada, too.

The lamas, who had followed the Dalai Lama into exile in India, headed west. It was the Sixties, and the West, weary of what it knew about Christianity or Judaism, was ready to bow down to what it didn’t know — spiritual practices of the East.

The timing was perfect, says writer Jeffrey Paine, whose new book Re-Enchantment explains how Tibetan Buddhism came to the West and how the lamas ushered in the greatest revolution in their religious history by adapting to western tastes.

Instead of esoteric theology and metaphysics, they taught simple meditation: breathe in, breathe out — anyone could do it. You were required to be kind and compassionate. You could chant, do a thousand prostrations — or more! And for New Agers who liked it, there was the thrill of magic and mystery, clairvoyant monks and even flying lamas.

“The first lamas, once they got the hang of what the West was like, were able to dispense with theology and teach practical things,” Paine says from Washington, D.C.

They gave people “something that was almost the experience of faith and close to the satisfaction of faith, without a theological structure.” In effect, “delivering a religion that could dispense with God and belief, too.”

Buddhism addressed the universal sorrow — suffering. “People suffer, people die. Why?” asks Chris Banigan, an artist and book designer. “Am I being duped by the senses? It was more about questions and a reminder that I have very little time here. What am I doing with this time? That’s the question.”

And if the lamas could also help North Americans with their bruised psyches, all the better. The lamas, including the Dalai Lama, were astounded that westerners, so well educated, so at ease with engines, suffered from low self-esteem, says Paine. When they compared the two cultures, they concluded that the major difference between Tibetans and North Americans was that Tibetans liked themselves.

Coming from Tibet, where the spiritual life was well-developed and one-quarter of the male population were monks, the lamas couldn’t understand North Americans walking around not thinking they were potential Buddhas, says Jeff Cox, president of Snow Lion Publications in Ithaca, N.Y., which specializes in books on Buddhism.

They were skillful teachers and appealed to those with a scholastic turn of mind, says Frances Garrett, an assistant professor of Buddhist studies at the University of Toronto where 200 students are enrolled in classes studying Tibetan Buddhism. But the lamas went further.

“They realized that monasticism just wasn’t going to catch on, so the practices and teachings that had only been available to monks and nuns became available to lay people. A transformation had to occur to become palatable and interesting to the West.”

Some purists were critical, saying secret teaching was being squandered on ordinary people, homeowners, students, people with families and jobs, people who couldn’t possibly appreciate or practise the teachings as they should.

But in Richmond Hill, Lama Tashi Dondup of the Karma Tekchen Zabsal Ling centre appreciates his western students. “They don’t just do what the teacher says. They check to see if that is what the Buddha says. Westerners do this. They are not just jumping in. I like this way. It’s not a stupid way.”

And, he adds, it doesn’t matter if you are Christian or Jewish. “You can still meditate. Then you really become relaxed, peaceful and comfortable.”

Buddhism in the West was seen as a spiritual practice, not a religion, which appealed not only to those attached to western religious practices, but those who were dissatisfied and the rising group of people known by the census takers as the “religious nones,” those who declared they had no religious beliefs. “It’s just a word game, but another way Buddhism transformed itself in a new culture,” says Garrett.

Garrett had always been interested in philosophy, but after studies in India became drawn to Buddhist practices. “They satisfied me with a complexity and profundity of thinking, but gave those ideas some purpose in interacting with other people. It was a profound philosophy aimed at helping others.”

Then there is the appeal of science. “Generations of disciples looked at the nature of reality and mind from a scientific point of view,” says photographer Don Farber, whose most recent book is Tibetan Buddhist Life. “That meant they tested and analyzed and didn’t take anything for granted. That approach to spirituality appeals to the western mind since we’ve had scientific education.”

Plans are under way at the University of Toronto for a centre that would unite western scientists who study the physiological and neurological effects of Buddhist meditation with researchers, such as Garrett, who study Buddhist texts. “It will be unique in North America to unite the expertise,” says Garrett.

American actors and celebrities also embraced Tibetan Buddhism, making it better known — though some see it as an embarrassment. Steven Seagal’s celebrity was the sort that gave Buddhism in the West a bad name. The actor, who plays efficient but good-guy killers, was declared a tulku, or reincarnation of a great religious figure, by a Tibetan rinpoche he had supported financially.

Richard Gere was the good side. Paine was told the actor has become a “lovely person,” a generous contributor to Tibetan causes, presumably the effect of meditating between 45 minutes and two hours every day for 25 years.

“A few matinee idols and film directors have done more than a thousand monks could have to chant Tibetan Buddhism into general awareness in the American culture,” Paine concludes.

Cox estimates there are 800,000 western Buddhists — about half of those follow Tibetan Buddhist practices — and about 500 Tibetan Buddhist centres in North America. In the United States, Paine reports, Buddhism is doubling its numbers and the fastest growing form is Tibetan. Canada’s 2001 census showed there are 97,000 Buddhists in Toronto — about 4,000 are not visible minorities.

In Toronto, there are at least eight Tibetan centres, some in suburban bungalows, some established centres, with some lamas in residence as teachers and dozens of others visiting regularly from India for special teachings.

It’s the connection to his teacher, Lama Namse Rinpoche, that’s important to Allen Gauvreau, who lives and works at the Karma Sonam Dargye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre on Vaughan Rd.

Outside, prayer flags strung across the parking lot flap wildly in the wind. Inside, it’s serene, with shining floors, a screen of glimmering gilt Buddhas and meditative images of Buddhas hanging from the walls.

Gauvreau recalls there was no religious ritual in his upbringing. He remembers going to Sunday school. It was United Church. No, he says, it was Anglican. “The practice has given me what was missing; it’s given me ritual,” he says. “Though I find I’ve become more interested in the meditation. But all this ritual helps me in visualizations.”

Meditative visualization takes you through a series of exercises. A simplified description of these elaborate practices: Picture a Buddha at the centre of a mandala with other Buddhas around him, then you picture yourself as Buddha and imagine taking all the suffering of the beings around you and transforming that into happiness.

At mid-week, perhaps seven members will come for a chanting and meditation; when the lama teaches, 50 will attend; 100 may come for visiting teachers. The members are mixed. While most are Canadian-born, one is from Mexico, another from Ethiopia, one is Serbian, and some from Hong Kong.

Says Gauvreau: “The important thing, there’s a place, here, for people to have contact with a living meditation master.”

[Article no longer available]
Read More

Meditative practices for the college life

Sumayya Ahmad, Daily Trojan, Univ of Southern California, USA: Buddhist students on campus practice meditation and host discussions weekly.

In the fast-paced college atmosphere, some students at USC have turned to Buddhism, an ancient religion more than 2,500 years old, for guidance in their modern lives because of the faith’s philosophy and the simple answers it provides for everyday problems.

Buddhism is used to purify your mind and understand how to eliminate all suffering, agony and stress,” said Dr. Jongmae Park, Buddhist director at USC and a faculty fellow.

“Youngsters are very hyper and have so much passion. A life of passion is OK, but we try to make them slow down. They are often missing the cultivation of the self,” he said.

Buddhists believe people were born with a pure mind and spirit, and develop greed, anger and prejudices through life, Park said.

The philosophy of Buddhism is unlike most religions in that there is no belief in a supreme being or God, Park said. Buddhists, however, are not atheists, he said.

“We believe in the nature of the universe. In fact, the Buddha said that each sentient being is a small universe,” Park said.

The Buddhist goal is to attain nirvana, or enlightenment. There are several ways to develop wisdom through Buddhism, he said. One way is through the reading of Buddhist scriptures, and another way is coaching oneself through meditation and chanting. The Buddhist book of scripture, the Sutra, is 84,000 chapters long.

Park said that he thinks part of getting an education is to gain wisdom.

“The young age is important. The mind is in high gear and learning to develop many different things. Wisdom doesn’t only come from education, it also comes from experiences,” Park said.

“If you have no wisdom, it’s like building a house on sand, not on a concrete floor. We try to help USC students build a house with a good foundation. This is called spiritual development.”

Darryl Ng, a senior majoring in business with an emphasis in entrepreneurship, is president of external affairs for the USC Buddhist Association. Ng, who was not raised with a religious background, became interested in Buddhism in college.

“The Buddhist philosophy, I find, really clicks with my own personal beliefs; it’s essentially the madhyamam, the middle path, not to one of the extremes or the other, and I try to implement that in my daily life,” he said.

Ng meditates twice a day for 15 minutes, once in the morning after he wakes up and also before he goes to bed. Meditation helps to clear his mind, he said.

Ng also leads meditation sessions on campus for students who want to learn relaxation techniques on Thursdays in the Fishbowl Chapel from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The USC Buddhist Association holds meetings every Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in URC 205, where there are teachings and discussion about the philosophy.

“The mind is like a pool of water — it’s murky, you can’t see through it. By sitting down, and allowing the mind to calm itself, essentially your muddy water becomes clear and you can see through it,” he said.

Caroline Bartunek, a sophomore majoring in creative writing and comparative literature, is the vice president of the USC Buddhist Association.

Bartunek grew up in a Catholic family and said that she, too, became interested in Buddhism in college.

Although she said she considers herself predominantly Catholic and attends church at home, she thinks that Buddhism is a great philosophy.

“I think that for most people it’s a philosophy — it’s not a mythology. It’s really about the core of teaching. It has a great way of looking at life and treating people with compassion,” she said.

Bartunek said that she really liked the teachings of Jesus, but as she grew older, it became harder for her to identify with the Christian culture.

Bartunek also said that most people who express an interest in Buddhism are “white American” kids who are interested in the philosophy.

“Different people follow Buddhism in different ways,” Bartunek said. “One of the precepts is that you shouldn’t use any intoxicating substances. The principle behind that is that one of the goals of Buddhism it to gain a higher consciousness.”

“I don’t make a big deal out of it, but I don’t drink or use drugs. If others want to do it, it’s their decision, though. I go to parties, but I avoid drinking.”

Bartunek also said that she likes how the philosophy can be adapted to any culture.

James Gauntt, a sophomore majoring in Spanish, became interested in Buddhism after one of his friends took him to a meeting last spring.

“I liked how accessible and venerable it is, how entertaining the lectures can be, and how easy they are to understand,” Gauntt said.

Gauntt said he was a “church-twice-a-year” Christian, one who attends only Christmas and Easter services. He said that although he would not call himself a Buddhist, he is fascinated by the philosophy.

“I am really willing to learn more and see about making it a big part of my life in the future,” he said.

“It makes life very easy to understand and deal with. I like the philosophy. It makes life very easy, and I think it’s just the life lesson more than anything.”

Original article no longer available…

Read More