Posted on: January 22, 2020 Posted by: Jan Kopischke Comments: 0

Teresa Hannon

Counseling Department

Feeling overwhelmed and stressed as the end of the semester is looming?  This is a common feeling for many college students.  Our counseling department often seeks an uptick in appointments for students who are struggling with this during this time in the semester and need help managing stress.  Everyone needs to find ways to de-stress that is healthy and works for them.  Listening to music, hanging out with family and friends, and working out are typical helpful strategies many students use to work through feeling “stressed out”.  Recently, there has been much focus on the use of meditation to deal with such feelings.  We read about how celebrities are tapping into meditation as well such Katy Perry, LeBron James, Kristen Bell and Hugh Jackman.  So what exactly is meditation?  

There are many of schools of thought when it comes to meditation.  Basically, it is working with your mind in one way or another.  Often basic meditation instruction starts with simply focusing on the breath.  The idea here is not change your breath but to become really familiar with it.  The point of focus is to follow your in breath and out breath all the way through.  As a result, your breath often slows in response to this focus.  Unfortunately, there are many myths floating around about meditation.  The number one myth I often come across is the point of meditation is to “clear your mind.”  Not only is that not true, it’s impossible!  Your mind is meant to think, process, analyze, etc., and much of the time, we really want the mind to keep up on that task.  

However, there are times when our mind takes over and becomes a bit “irrational” and works against us without our awareness.  This occurs when there is a perceived threat by our mind (upcoming test, assignments to complete, etc.) and our body reacts by engaging our nervous system in a fight or flight response.  This response has been very useful to our survival as a human species.  However, in our fast-paced, ever-connected society, sometimes our mind becomes unnecessarily hyper-vigilant, causing us to be constantly “stressed out.”  Therefore, meditation is one way to bring the focus to something other than the perceived threat.  By simply focusing on your breath for even 5 short minutes, your mind can use the opportunity to “take a break” from worry and concern.  Regularly practicing this technique can also prevent the response from taking hold in the first place. 

If you have any questions about meditation or mindfulness, please do not hesitate to reach out to me, Teresa Hannon, at hannont@morainevalley.edu.  

Next semester, I will leading meditation sessions on Fridays at noon in S223. There is no charge for the sessions and all are welcome at attend.  

Have a great finals week and just breathe!