If there’s one thing that university students are well versed in, it’s the stress that comes with academic life. In hopes of combating that, I gave MacEwan’s Meditation Club a try.
Natalia Chiles, the club president, explains that the club started last winter when a faculty member put up a few posters around the school inviting people to a meditation circle. From there, SAMU suggested that it be turned into a student-run club, and the group has been growing ever since. Chiles calls the club a “pretty tight-knit” group, and encourages anyone with an interest in meditation to give it a try.
“[Meditation] has completely transformed my life, inside and out,” says Chiles, who started meditating through her yoga practice six years ago. “I was sexually abused a year and a half ago and I went through a lot of difficulties with anxiety and depression, and I know a lot of other students do as well. So, for me, it’s just been what has kept me grounded the whole time and what has helped me heal through my depression.”
Meditation is sometimes perceived as a New Age practice, but incorporating mindful relaxation into everyday life can be beneficial for stress management, and Chiles adds that it can help increase a person’s focus and ability to relax.
“It can help with your friendships, your relationships, your sex life. There are tons of benefits going forward,” she says. “I think that students who want to get a better holistic view of their life definitely should welcome meditation into it.”
My experience participating in the meditation circle was nothing but positive. Previous to that session, I had never participated in a meditation circle. I felt a little out of place at first, but as I settled into the breathing, it began to feel more natural.
The session was held in the multi-faith room, where several pillows were set up in a circle on the floor. Everyone sat cross-legged. The lights were dimmed and everyone closed their eyes. The following 20 minutes were spent meditating quietly, interrupted only by a few cues from Chiles regarding different meditation techniques.
Concluding the session with a discussion of how everybody’s days had been, Chiles reached out to each member individually to generate conversation and offer suggestions for a better meditation practice.
The Meditation Club meets every Tuesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and welcomes both those who are familiar with meditation and those who are new to the practice. After all, meditation is a learning process, and the focus is more on how you feel and less on how you do it.“I always say that meditation is however you want to do it,” says Chiles.
Photo by Betty Nudler, Flickr Creative Commons.