By Sydney Carter ’13, Wellness Communications Assistant
Meditation is more than a deep breath here and a chant of “om” there.
This ancient practice– with its roots in several Eastern religions and spiritual traditions, such as Buddhism and Indian scriptures known as “tantras”– can engage all five senses to calm the mind and body, enhance spiritual wellness and relieve stress.
Meditation, in its multiple styles and with its various methods, brings awareness of the present moment and understanding of an individual’s inner and outer self, plus a little peace during the hectic daily grind of college life. These three components are key to improving spiritual wellness.
The increased connection with the world and with oneself can also significantly decrease stress.
Take time today to engage each of your five senses in meditation:
Sight: Mindful Meditation
Visualize the present moment. If you’re walking to class, concentrate on the autumn foliage. If you’re sitting in Stamp on a break, think only about what happens around you. Do not intervene. Let everything unfold without your involvement. Avoid thoughts about the past and future. It’s all about the present moment with mindful mediation, one of the most popular and most common styles of meditation.
Sound: Mantra Meditation
Hear yourself softly chant a calming word or phrase of your choice. If you feel overwhelmed by stress or simply desire a moment of calm during the hustle and bustle of the day use mantra meditation. All that it requires is that calming word or phrase, the mantra, and a commitment to verbalize it. Mantra meditation can vanquish distracting thoughts and welcome a sense of peace.
Smell: Breathing Meditation
Across multiple styles of meditation there are common components. Deep and focused breathing is a common element of meditation styles and can be its own meditation technique. Deep breaths taken at an even pace can slow breathing, bring in more oxygen and reduce the use of other upper body muscles for more efficient breathing. Meditation that’s dependent on breathing can relax individuals and bring their awareness to themselves. Light a few aromatherapy candles to inhale calming fragrances as you practice taking deep, slow breaths.
Touch: Body Scan Meditation
When you scan your body, forgo being critical and analyzing every detail of your face or thighs. Instead, intensely focus on every sensation a specific part your body experiences during that moment. Concentrate on how an inhaled breath flows through the entire body, from your nose to your toes. This meditation style, known as body scan meditation, can dramatically increase self-awareness and bring relief to aching bodies.
Taste: Tea or Chocolate Meditation
Love a steamy cup of tea? Or are you a choco-holic? Either way, both treats when incorporated with heightened awareness make a delicious style of meditation. While eating a bar of chocolate or drinking a cup of tea engage every sense to fully embrace the moment and the chocolate or tea you’re enjoying. Taste the chocolate and try to detect as many of its approximately 300 flavors as possible. Sip the tea slowly and keep your mind in the moment as its taste fills you.
With so many diverse styles that can be done almost anywhere by anyone, meditation is an excellent option to nurture your spiritual wellness through increased self-awareness and inner peace. It’s also a technique to significantly decrease escalating stress levels.
Take a deep breath and have a cup of tea today.
Free meditation classes are offered on campus each week through the University Health Center with Edie Anderson, a Certified Meditation Counselor.