Meditation on campus

Meditation on campus

Student Laura Casssin explains to myView what students can gain from taking time out from study to meditate.

Student Laura Cassin runs a meditation session every weekday in The Bubble, SU 216 Student Union building.

What is meditation?

Meditation can mean different things to different people. Essentially, it is the intimate observation of one’s nervous system; a passive exploration of the depth of one’s being. Meditation is like a workout for your mind because it trains the brain how to be relaxed, aware, and under one’s own dictation control. [**control is not a good word in meditation because we are trying to let go of control – trying to control things make meditation more difficult.] I am paraphrasing a well-respected meditation teacher here using ‘dictation’.]

At MindWell we practice ‘vipassana’ (aka ‘mindfulness meditation’), a Pali word that loosely translates as ‘clear insight’ or ‘seeing clearly’.

How do we meditate?

There are a wide variety of techniques, ranging from the ancient religious to the modern neuroscientific. Some may involve movement and others stillness. Some techniques use closed or open eyes, and the breath may be natural or deliberate. There may or may not be visualisation, sound, or a topic of contemplation. This depends on the experiences and intention of the practitioner or their teacher, so it’s good to start by setting an intention for your practice.

At MindWell sessions, we practice a small variety of minimalist techniques because when it comes to meditation, less is more! For inexperienced people or those feeling mentally frazzled, it can be helpful to have a guide help you through some steps to relaxation and explain the process to maintain focus.

Put succinctly, mindfulness practice (aka Vipassana) involves focussing one’s attention on the breath. When thoughts, physical and emotional sensations arise, we observe them as they change. 

There’s a full programme of wellbeing workshops in Trimester 1 and throughout the rest of the year.

So, why do we do it?

There are even more reasons to meditate than there are techniques and definitions. Initially, I started meditating because I wanted to control my mind. (Somewhat paradoxically I later realised that surrender is the key to mental autonomy here.) It became the antidote to my anxiety and a source of liberation from mental cycles that were causing my depression.

My communication skills got better, as I have a deeper capacity to understand other people and my own intentions. My relationships have improved—I’m more relaxed to be around, and a better listener. My posture and ‘resting b****face’ got a makeover and I can hear my body’s signals tell me what is going on inside, tuning me into my instincts.

I have learned how to have a better understanding of what physical intimacy really means, when before it felt robotic and uneasy. Meditation is the only natural remedy for my insomnia I have found effective. There are countless peer-reviewed studies that show how meditation increases focus, memory, and lengthens attention span—it can be helpful for those suffering ADHD and also for students generally.

Who is meditation for and where can you find us?

Our sessions are part of Manawa Ora—Student Wellbeing workshops and are beneficial and open to anyone—led by expert students, who seek to develop together. [**I do not consider myself an expert in meditation, nor others whom sometimes guide. Can we change it back to ‘inexpert’?**] – We run the sessions every Monday during trimester in the Bubble, level 2 of the Student Union building on Kelburn campus. You can also email us to book a time and place that suits you!

Laura Cassin is a Bachelor of Science student, President of MindWell meditation club, and a wellbeing workshop facilitator.

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