Meditation and movement: Stress relief for students

Taitayana 1By Nalee Praseutsack

There are several outlets on campus for stress relief. The Meditation Club provides a space and time for students to relax before starting classes for the week. Also, in a more active setting, yoga can be another meditative form of stress relief.

The Meditation Club’s main goal is to provide “a place to relax and not think about everything chaotic in your schedule,” senior and president of the club Zoe Psarouthakis said. Through meditative techniques, mainly sitting and walking meditation, participants can practice focus and relaxation.

The meditation is mainly individual, except during the “Rose, Bud, Thorn” section of the meeting, when it becomes a supportive group experience. This beginning portion allows members to share a good experience, something they are looking forward to and a bad experience of their week. This lets them vent before settling in for the half hour where “you don’t talk to anyone” and have the chance to “quiet your mind,” Psarouthakis said.

Meditation can have great stress relieving benefits according to Psarouthakis, who has been practicing meditation since elementary school. She said that “meditation is not about forgetting about everything you need to do, but it’s about focusing on yourself.” She encourages people to open their minds to trying some form of meditation because it “allows you to focus in chaos.”

Aside from joining the Meditation Club, Psarouthakis also shares some simple stress relieving tips. Taking ten minutes to “close your eyes and acknowledge your stress,” and “make a plan for what to do with that stress” can be helpful. How you choose to deal with your stress can range from “going on a run” to “meeting with friends,” but Psarouthakis emphasized the importance of time to “focus on yourself.”

The Meditation Club meets in the Hurvis Studio at 2 p.m. on Sundays and at 8:45 p.m. on Mondays in the first floor lounge of Colman Hall. The club welcomes new members and is open to anyone who has any interest in trying meditation. Participation can be casual and attendance is not required.

A more active form of meditation, yoga, can offer physical and mental balance to help relieve stress. Yoga involves engaging the body in various poses timed to one’s breathing. Cathy Goehler, an instructor at Empower Yoga, said that yoga can “prepare the mind and body for meditation” because “breath and movement calms the body.” By emphasizing awareness of your breath and body, yoga builds focus that can be applied to everyday life.

Goehler advocated for the benefits of yoga by citing her own experiences. She said that since she started practicing yoga , it has helped to “center and ground” her and make her “less reactive” in stressful situations. She has had students who experienced similar benefits.

Further, she finds yoga has physical benefits, which originally got her interested in the activity. “Lifting your body weight [in various poses] is a lot of work,” she said, which leads to “long, lean muscles.” Also, as you do yoga, the “deep breathing flushes toxins” according to Goehler, which causes you to feel better physically and therefore less stressed.

Goehler encourages everyone to try yoga to experience the physical and mental benefits themselves. She suggested that people should “be open and commit to doing yoga for three weeks” to decide whether or not it is for them. She also emphasized that “any body type can do yoga” and it is about an individual’s “journey” to strengthen themselves, rather than a competition.

Instructors such as Goehler from Empower Yoga offer yoga classes in the Esch Hurvis Studio from 11:15 a.m. to noon Mondays through Thursdays.