Breathe in, breathe out.
That’s the age-old advice that parents tell their children, and Sue Byrne, Senior Counselor at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), expands on it with her Mindfulness Meditation sessions. The practices can vary, with scene-setting or body-scanning, but the purpose remains the same — self-acceptance.
“There are many misconceptions that I have understood from my years of teaching,” said Sue Byrne. “The most prevalent one is that people think they have to stop thinking. They often get frustrated by this and not try to follow through with meditation as a wellness routine.”
Rebecca Kinsley, a participant in Byrne’s meditation class, has seen improvement since she started.
“I’ve definitely been more aware of my stress,” said Rebecca Kinsley ‘21, majoring in computer science. She added that meditating helps her focus on her breath.
This meditation session was two 15-minute segments — one with a scene-setting approach, the other with a Buddhist approach. Finding a comfortable position and being grounded are both crucial steps.
“I thought it was really effective,” said Alyssa Diodado ‘21, an ecosystems major. “I felt more clear and grounded when I did the meditation.”
Many benefit from the effects of meditation. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), a 2012 study found that about 70% of participants reported “better outcomes for symptoms of anxiety.”
“Students often report to me that they are more curious and accepting of themselves,” said Byrne. “They also start to hear how they think about themselves and their experiences in a different way.”
The primary effects of meditation are due to changes in brain wave activity. The beta state, which is when brain waves are 13 to 30 Hz, is our default state for working throughout the day. The meditative state occurs when the brain produces theta waves, which are 4 to 8 Hz. Achieving this state is about focusing on the breath, and routinely meditating.
Noticing and non-attachment is often the focus of mindfulness. Allowing your attention to just be with, notice and let go for the moment. It gives the mind a chance to reboot.
Drop-in sessions for meditation are free for all students and are available Mondays from 10 to 10:30 a.m. at the Walter J. Hawrys Recreation Center, Wednesdays from 1 to 2 p.m. in CAPS, and Thursdays from 3:30 to 4 p.m. in Health Sciences, Room 3-040F.