Take a chill pill with meditation club

While sitting in the “lotus” position, students begin the meditation process, slowly easing their bodies and then themselves into a centered feeling. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Assistant)
While sitting in the “lotus” position, students begin the meditation process, slowly easing their bodies and then themselves into a centered feeling. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Assistant)

When was the last time you scheduled time to relax into your planner? College life can be stressful with classes, practice and homework. No one should have to worry about penciling in time for relaxation. However, students can plan a meditation session for relieving stress and clearing the mind.

The Buddhist Meditation Club offers weekly sessions to everyone on campus. From 11:30 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. on Thursdays at the Spiritual Center, Jess Row, professor of English, guides students through a short meditation.

When Row began practicing the art of meditation in 1994 during his undergraduate years at Yale University, he found the routine relaxing and helpful in relieving stress from his schedule. Row began teaching at the College in September 2006.

“I knew I wanted to start a club of some sort to get others involved in Buddhist Meditation,” Row said. “The College has a great environment for this type of practice.”

The club began in the winter of 2007 and has since grown.

During each mediation meeting, which lasts approxmately 20 to 30 minutes, participants are required to remove their shoes before stepping onto the mats and pillows set up in the chapel. After folding one’s legs in the “lotus” position — heels tucked over calves, knees resting on the ground — the back must be straight and aligned with the hips, as well as the head and shoulders. The hands should be in the “mahamudra,” a circle created with the left fingers placed inside the right fingers and the thumbs in an oval shape. Eyes should remain open and focused on the ground at a 45 degree angle. After one’s body is in place, the tongue should rest against the roof of the mouth with the tip lightly touching the backside of the front teeth. The breathing pattern should count to five on inhalation and to seven when exhaling. This process is meant to help one relax and gain a centered feeling, Row said.

“During this process, I want everyone to think about emptying and freeing their minds. Thoughts should be open and calm,” Row said at last Thursday’s meditation session.

Participants were encouraged to ask themselves about what was going on around them. As worries and thoughts come to mind about life or busy schedules, just remember to relax and focus on breathing in order to rid one’s self of strong feelings, Row said. The professor rang the bell three times to begin the session and three times to signify its end.

After the meditating, a member read from a book of Buddhist ideals, “365 Zen” by Jean Smith.

The club consists of approximately 10 members.

Melissa Toledo, sophomore sociology major, just recently joined the group.  “I used to jog to relieve stress, but I decided to try something that’s inside for when I can’t run outside in the cold weather,” she said. “It helps me to organize my thoughts.  Meditating opens my mind and empties it of all my stressful thoughts.”

Toledo has continued practicing meditating in her spare time and whole-heartedly recommends that others try it.

Although the Buddhist Meditation Club meets once a week, meditating can be done whenever and wherever.