If you’ve been searching for an effective way to de-stress, Live Well, UT’s “Mind & Meditation” series, may bring you one step closer to inner peace. The meditation program is the Wellness Center’s latest effort to aid students in stress relief and relaxation of the mind. Spearheaded by Leslie Ryan, Live Well UT’s staff advisor, the initiative is dedicated to interfaith and self-reflection.
“Meditation is something that is very important for all people to do,” Ryan said. “It helps greatly with stress release and it’s also a way to grow closer to your creator.”
Inspired by the success of last semester’s “The Power of Pause” book club, which was centered around meditation, Ryan began the “Mind & Meditation” series in hopes of helping students learn about the different ways to meditate and relax.
“I want to help others find a way to settle their minds,” Ryan said. “So, that they can be more active, more productive and stress free.”
Through Ryan’s efforts, peace of mind is literally within walking distance. Every Wednesday the lunchtime meditations are held in Sykes Chapel, focusing on varied forms of the practice. In conjunction with Live Well UT’s interfaith model, the series will feature meditations led by various faith leaders.
“We open up all the doors to allow faiths to share what their beliefs and traditions are,” Ryan said.
On Jan. 28, the “Mind & Meditation” series began with a spiritual reflection led by a member of the Baha’i faith (a religion emphasizing spiritual unity among mankind). Participants were led through a meditation as practiced by the Baha’i, taking part in the different mantras, prayer beads and body positions associated with proper reflection.
Susan Carter, a curator for the Henry B. Plant Museum, sat in on the Baha’i meditation in hopes of learning more about the religion during her midday break. “I was not familiar with it and found the experience to be very rewarding,” Carter said.
During the second week of the program, a Methodist minister led a centering prayer. During the centering prayer, participants were asked to focus their attention on connecting with God. A practice that Ryan says advocates “being in the moment.”
“A lot of the time we get stuck in where we have to be and what we have to do and then it overwhelms us,” Ryan said. “So, if we can connect and be present in the moment to whatever it is that we’re doing we can get the most out of life.”
In straying away from the traditional form of meditation, Ryan hopes students will be open to exploring different faiths and find what resonates best with them.
“The same thing isn’t going to be for everyone,” Ryan said. “So, if you come in at different times and practice, you may just find something that works for you right now and helps you the best.”
The “Mind & Meditation” series is expected to continue through the rest of the semester and eventually become a staple of the Live Well UT community. “I just want students to xrealize that there is more to us,” Ryan said. “There’s more to us than just our physical bodies and minds.”
Kai Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org