When my friends and I walked into The Soul Mirror for the full moon meditation, we weren’t sure what to expect. As lovers of all things metaphysical, we had attended Wiccan full moon ceremonies and guided mediations before, but the combination of them was foreign to us.
Inside, the hardwood floors and soft, illuminating light created an aura of peace. Our instructor greeted us, white skirt flowing around her ankles and bare feet. It had been a couple of years since our last trip, when we left somewhat skeptical after an instructor spoke of meeting Jesus during her ascension into the subconscious.
This time though, the mediation started off with basic yoga movements and an emphasis on controlled breathing and chanting. After only a few minutes, the stress of Spanish quizzes and environmental science projects faded away. I became almost light-headed as I focused on the energy flowing through my body.
For me, meditation is a freeing and natural way to relieve the stress that weighs heavy on my shoulders from the complications of daily life. Among college students, bouts of insomnia are common and immune systems are at an all-time low from the burden of stress and lack of sleep. I am one of many who walks the campus in a sleep-deprived, sniffling stupor when I don’t take the time to slow down for a moment.
Unfortunately, yoga and mediation classes are often time-consuming and costly, two turn offs for busy students with empty wallets.
But places like The Soul Mirror offer sessions for free or on the basis of donations. In addition, they offer a myriad of events worth taking advantage of, including drumming circles and seminars on Reiki — a Japanese technique for stress reduction — and spiritual development. Licensed yoga instructors, practicing mediums and other metaphysical experts are on hand for guidance.
On campus, group fitness classes such as yoga revitalize the mind as well as the body and are offered at the Recreation Center at different times throughout the day. This way, a student can find a time that doesn’t conflict with class or work. As long as you’re a USF student, the classes are already paid for through your tuition, so you might as well take advantage of them.
But meditation doesn’t have to be as complicated as signing up for a class or even leaving your bedroom. Find a comfortable position and a quiet place free of background noise and distractions. Many practitioners adopt what is commonly referred to as the lotus position, but as long as your body is leveled and your spine is straight, you’ll be able to breathe properly.
Breathe deeply, focusing your breaths in your abdomen instead of your chest. Clear your mind of any clutter. If it helps you focus, envision yourself in a serene environment, such as in the mountains or beside a lake. I usually imagine myself floating on clouds of blue and purple, colors with shorter wavelengths that have a tranquil effect on my brain.
Not only does meditation relieve stress for better physical health, I believe it creates better mental health, expanding students’ intelligence, confidence and motivation. Meditation opens up students’ consciousnesses and allows them to be more receptive to learning and retaining information.
Traditionally, education has focused on what students study — the objective aspect of knowledge — without systematically developing the subjective basis of knowledge, the student’s consciousness,” according to the Transcendental Meditation program offered at tm.org.
Meditating before studying or taking a big exam helps me recall what I studied and drastically reduces my test anxiety. It is important to remember that there is no right way or wrong way to meditate. You just need to set aside 10-20 minutes a day to get rid of the negative feelings and stress that you accumulate.
Meditation is not necessarily about enlightenment, achieving Nirvana or improving yourself, but about accepting things as they are and taking the time to slow down enough to enjoy life and relax.
Daylina Miller is a sophomore majoring in mass communications.