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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Meditation offers healthy outlets for students

Published: January 16, 2015
Section: News

In May of 2014, the faculty, student and staff meditation series began as a routine way for Brandeis students to satisfy their interest in meditation alongside other members of the community. A few staff members who took an interest in the activity created the series and thought that others would appreciate the opportunity and would subsequently join. Taking place in the Peace Room in Usdan, this weekly event offers participants a different form of stress-relief.

Meditation is an ancient practice in which an individual trains his or her mind to be persuaded into a deeper mode of consciousness. It has been practiced as part of many different religious traditions and also as a form of self-regulation, because it is said to help a person develop compassion, increase energy and support relaxation. On a smaller scale, many of those who practice meditation do so in order to clear their minds of negative thoughts and their bodies of negative energy. Meditation can be done in a variety of ways depending on the person’s specific preferences and beliefs.

David Wedaman, director of outreach at Brandeis and coordinator of the meditation series, said that they have adapted their approach to those attending.

“Most who’ve come so far have had experience meditating, so our current default program is what you might call ‘no-frills,’” he said.

Each session begins at 9:30 a.m. every Tuesday when those in attendance arrive, chat and get settled. After that, they have a 20-minute timed meditation during which no one speaks. At the end of the 20 minutes, some people leave, and those who choose to stay either talk about their experience that day, their meditative practices in general or sometimes extend their meditation for a few minutes longer. However, if they know they will have new people joining the meeting, they will begin with a short, guided session before the 20-minute sit so that all attendees know what to expect. In addition, according to Wedaman, “When someone expresses an interest in a particular kind of meditation, we try to accommodate that.”

As Wedaman stated, he is not an expert in the research surrounding mediation. Yet he believes that the practice of reflection during mediation has evident positive effects, including lower levels of stress and anxiety.

“Speaking for myself, I think I am more relaxed and contented after I meditate,” he said. “I think I’m more patient, I feel less rushed, I’m more aware of what is going on around me, I’m more aware of what’s on my own mind, and I’m more open to others.”

Meditation is a relatively common practice among college students, and many schools have guided meditation techniques on their websites. Especially right after almost a month away from school, practicing some form of meditation may help students re-adjust to a college schedule. In comparison to other relaxing activities such as yoga, Wedaman says that meditation complements a variety of related activities. He notes that a person interested in several types of practices might try them all out and see which they prefer.