By Sam Schmieder
Feeling stressed, overwhelmed and tense? Fear not, because you can start saying “om” and re-energizing all while on campus. Thanks to the University Health Center, hour-long meditation sessions are available for anyone who wants to clear their mind and relax in between their hectic schedules.
Edie Anderson is the certified meditation instructor who leads these sessions for students to de-stress and calm down. She explains that according to meditation specialists Deepak Chopra and David Simon, meditation is something that “directs us inward to rediscover ourselves, which is the source of all of our creativity, peace and joy.”
Medically speaking, meditation has been used to help treat addiction, pain, depression, and anxiety disorders and is used every day to relieve stress. Doctors are beginning to study the links between brain functions and meditating. At Yale, researchers are seeing connections between experienced meditators and decreased activity in the areas of the brain that cause life-interfering problems like anxiety, autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Sophomore psychology major Sarah Tanveer went to a meditation session at the Health Center for the first time and didn’t know what to expect.
“I heard about it from the health and wellbeing listserv,” she said. “I’ve just been hearing from a lot of friends that it is really helpful and helps with concentration.”
During the sessions, Anderson talks through the seven main Chakras that supposedly have neural and hormonal associations in your body. The Chakras each represent a part of your body and brain and have a color of the rainbow associated with it. She also gives mantras with each for participants to say in their heads, as well as three questions to answer silently.
“We need our mind body to quiet down,” Anderson said. “We use the mantras to quiet down because the brain [always] runs.”
The questions are “who am I?” “what do I want?” and “how can I serve others?” They are not necessarily meant to be answered, but rather are used to open up the mind further and help realize the answers aren’t necessarily needed.
“It enhances your immune system, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and allows clarity in the mind,” Anderson said. “Because if you connect into your heart and then go into your mind, the two things work together well.”
After the session, Tanveer said she really enjoyed the experience.
“I never quite experienced relaxation to that degree,” Tanveer said. “It did clear my mind, I definitely felt myself focusing on my breathing and not worrying about stressful thoughts.”
Although recent Maryland graduate Steven Goodman has never done meditation at the school, he does yoga and hot yoga with aspects of meditation that he said keep him at his “inner peace.”
“Yeah, it does wonders,” Goodman said. “It puts one in a state of calm and relaxation.”
Goodman said he does breathing exercises in his hot yoga class, which he said he enjoys a lot.
“The benefit of meditation is that we can remove ourselves from the external world and come to your soul spirit where all of your hopes and talents exist,” Anderson said.
At the end of the sessions, Anderson gives a handout to all participants with extensive information about meditating from The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga by Deepak Chopra, M.D., and David Simon, M.D.
“Participation in this program will provide you the opportunity to learn how to relax in mind, body and spirit with breathing, guided imagery and muscle relaxing techniques,” it reads.
Anderson attended this university and has various degrees, including one in psychology and family sciences. She was asked to run this program at the Health Center and attended the Chopra Center in California to learn the technique and get certified.
“If we can allow our mind and body to relax daily, you’re going to be healthy because you let your mind and body do what it’s doing to keep you healthy,” Anderson said.
Stress makes our minds go out of control, and meditation keeps it in check, she said. Meditation is an antidote to stress and the only way to see if it works is to test it out for yourself.