By Heather Mendiola
As we round the last corner of fall term and our workload increases, finding the time to de-stress seems near impossible.
However, in order to stay healthy and sane during this difficult time, it seems necessary to take at least 30 minutes a day for yourself to relax, de-stress and recharge.
A useful tool that provides relief both physically and mentally is meditation.
There are different conceptions about meditation because there are as many techniques as there are people on this planet.
Each being shapes the meditation practice into what works best for him or her in the moment. Meditation can be simple yet daunting. From my personal experience, it is very difficult in the beginning.
However, once experienced and understood, it may become a necessary act for relaxation and continued happiness.
The Western form of higher education is very taxing on the body and mind, especially from one’s never-ending thoughts. Living a fast-paced, highly-stimulated life, it becomes difficult to simply be, without any outside stimulation.
Meditation teaches you how to be, and enjoy being, in all moments of life. It allows your mind to slow down enough to enjoy the peaceful silence between arising phenomena.
There are three aspects to meditation: posture, technique and joy.
Posture consists of sitting upright with your head aligned on your shoulders.
Technique refers to not having any expectations about what will happen, just sitting there, breathing, and allowing what will be, be. It also deals with loneliness, and allowing oneself to feel alone, and seeing what comes of that.
The last aspect, joy, deals with appreciating the exerting work one is doing by sticking with the pain of loneliness or other arising emotions and enduring through it, because with pain comes pleasure of knowing you are working for something meaningful.
Meditation is a bittersweet experience, and should be approached with a sense of humor and a light heart toward one’s self.
Every week, the American Yoga and Mindfulness Club on campus provides an environment to achieve that peaceful silence, through body work and mindfulness practice.
Bodywork is the act of putting one’s body into its natural aligned state and breathing to expand and move the body from the inside to help restore vitality and alleviate ailments.
This becomes a mindfulness meditation practice when one takes conscious, full breaths, through which accumulated tensions can be released and mental stress can dissipate.
This yoga practice is unique because it is applicable throughout your daily life as it teaches one how to sit, stand, walk, bend, reach and run in an aligned position so no more tension builds in one’s muscles, and one can actually alleviate tension instead of gaining tension.
In conscious breathing, one inhales through the nose using the diaphragm to fill the lungs and body with oxygen.
To understand the movement of this conscious breath, one may describe it as the act of flattening the diaphragm on inhales and using the diaphragm to push the air up and out on exhales.
Taking in a full breath and flattening the diaphragm expands the rib cage in all directions, massages the internal organs, and increases ones lung capacity over time.
Many people suffer from back pain; when the rib cage expands outward, it stretches the back muscles, and allows enough oxygen to enter the cells to help alleviate the accumulated tension.
As previously mentioned, an individual shapes the practice of meditation into whatever form works best for him or her.
This can mean the individual is doing active meditation and being mindful through his or her daily life or while doing a hobby.
Every time one observes phenomena arise, persist and dissipate but passes no judgment by merely observing what is, one is meditating.
Therefore, this tool can provide a great service during this busy time.
Before you do any work, take a moment and sit upright and consciously breathe for five minutes.
When you are walking, be aware of how your body is moving and if you are thinking about other things at the same time, try to stop thinking about the next moment or the past, and enjoy the “now” you are experiencing.
Eat when you are eating, breathe when you are breathing, talk to your friends when you are talking to friends, don’t let thought loops block your enjoyment of life’s infinite miracles.
Being alive on this Earth, able to breathe, talk, move and think are phenomena puzzling humanity, but do we really need to know why something is in order to enjoy it, whatever it may be or not be?
Regularly taking time for conscious breathing can make a significant difference in one’s life.
Meditation has been known to have euphoric effects as well as recharge your body, partly because of the increased intake of oxygen.
Next time you are feeling stressed, take a moment to breathe in order to release the stress and tension from your body with each exhale.
If you want to try a 30-minute meditation, head to the Wicker Wellness Center on Thursdays at 5 p.m..
If you want to try bodywork and mindfulness meditation, join others each Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in the upper exercise room of Alumni Gym for American Yoga.
If you just need a quiet place to sit and breathe, the mediation room on the second floor of Reamer is always open.