Meditation is a powerful relaxation tool for every college student to have in their inventory when dealing with the stress of academic life. There are many techniques in this millenniums-old practice, and as with most skills, practice will bring about the best benefit.
You can experience and practice your meditation with UNH Health Services, completely free for students. Every Monday, from 12:15 pm to 12:45 pm, Kathleen Grace-Bishop leads students in a meditative practice. She tries to mix up the types of meditation beyond the usual “sitting on a pillow cross-legged” that we’re all familiar with.
At my first meditation experience, Kathleen came with supplies to do a more activity-based meditation: the Mandala. The Mandala is a Hindu and Buddhist form of meditation involving intricate geometric patterns.
I will admit to my skepticism. I walked into the room unsure of what to expect, and I picked out my Mandala and markers with even more uncertainty. We used pre-drawn Mandalas and colored them in rather than construct our own – but as a non-artist, I was thankful.
We began with a small guided meditation exercise to start: inhaling deeply, exhaling fully, closing our eyes, relaxing our muscles. We then embarked on our Mandalas, tracing lines and filling in white space with the colors of our choice. I chose a blue, a grey, and a red – to contrast and challenge my natural instinct to use nice, bright colors.
The time for the session flew by. The Mandala was extremely relaxing. It took all my focus and drained my mind entirely, just filling in those little patterns. It was a bit strange – it was a simple activity, but also complex, requiring basic geometric calculations as you filled in the design with the colors of your choice.
After a while, we finished up our Mandalas and moved on to the final guided meditation – once again regulating our breathing, relaxing our muscles, and clearing our minds. Much of the stress I carried with me into the session I left behind. The mid-semester anxiety dissipated – if even only for a few hours – and I felt happier and more relaxed than I had in weeks.
Meditation sessions with Health Services could play a regular role in my weekly routine. All students should attend at least one session, just to see what it’s like. As stressed-out as college students can get, we should take every opportunity to learn to fight back.