Published: April 21, 2016
Every Wednesday at five for the past nine weeks, the Center for Health Education and Wellness (CHEW) has offered Mindfulness Meditations to faculty, staff and students. The practice can aid in stress relief and help make a person more aware of their surroundings. Cathy Mascelli, MSW, assistant director of CHEW, says the practice helps people quiet their minds.
“A lot of us are thinking about the future – what we have to do tomorrow, next week – and some of us are obsessing about the past, and we miss the present moment where we live,” Mascelli said.
Paul, who directs the Mindfulness Meditations, instructs those who attend on how to become more aware of sensations. He may ask them to focus on the sensations of the body and how their body feels in that moment, or he may ask them to focus on the sensations of breathing – inhaling and exhaling.
Senior Marc Incitti, who had never attended something like the Mindfulness Meditations before they were offered at The University, said that the environment is incredibly relaxing and quiet.
“The only one who speaks is the director and he is mainly a guide for us, just reminding us that it is okay if our mind wanders, and return our thoughts to a nonjudgemental way of transferring our thoughts from whatever we are thinking about to what he’s saying – so breathing, relaxing the muscles in the body,” Incitti said.
His primary reason for attending the meditation is to relieve stress. As a pre-med student with additional stress from having a job and family, Incitti says that the meditation helps him manage his personal and academic stress levels.
Meditation originally comes from Eastern religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism, and in those religions, meditation holds spiritual importance.
“The roots of the meditations are ancient and old and Eastern religions, so it is very much in those religions tied to spirituality that is discovered in silence and quiet,” Mascelli explained.
She continued, saying that the practice is very similar to the Examen of the Jesuits in that both are focused on spending time in quiet reflection. In fact, Anthony De Mello, a famous Jesuit priest, found prayer through meditations. Many students who have been on retreats have been asked to go through the Examen as part of their reflection at night. She says the experience of the Meditations is similar.
CHEW will continue to offer the Mindfulness Meditations every Wednesday until May 11 – the Wednesday before finals week – giving students an additional stress reliever as the semester winds down.
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