Take the edge off a stressful day, make it mindful

Spinnaker

By Allison Morse

Every Monday for 90 minutes, a group of UNF students gather to sit silently in a darkened room, trying its best to be still, while a honey-voiced counselor rings chimes and tells it to focus solely on their breathing.
This anti-event is called Mindfulness Meditation. The free weekly class challenges students to “slip into silence and practice living in the moment,” said Deborah Baker, the UNF counselor who teaches the class.

Sounds too easy? The class can be arduous on the untrained mind. Students attend to gain various benefits from this internal exercise.

“I want to learn how to unwind, relax, hopefully perform better in school,” said Paul Tappe, a UNF accounting post-baccalaureate.
The need to cope better with school work drew in some of the first-timers.
“I’m basically trying to balance out my stress,” said Kelly Feldthausen, a UNF psychology senior. “I’m taking seven classes, so I’m stressed about a couple things.”
Stress reduction is a benefit believed to be achieved through meditation, as well as improved concentration and focus. Those are just a few reasons Baker thought it would be a great fit at UNF.
“The life of a college student is filled with a lot of stress, a lot of deadlines, a lot of judgment,” she said. “But everyone needs balance in their life.”
Baker hopes students can find balance through meditation, become more aware and live in the present. She talks about these ideas while leading the class.

“The past is gone,” she said melodically to seated, shut-eyed students, “and the future is infinite.”

She uses this example to encourage students to not let thoughts overcome them while meditating and said quieting one’s mind is difficult, especially in the beginning.

The class went by rather quickly, and many students stumbled out of the room hazily, somewhere in between wake and sleep. But they did this after thanking Baker and signing a sheet, proving they conquered their thoughts — well, at least tried for an hour and a half.
“It was frustrating,” Feldthausen said with a smile, “but it’s going to be hugely beneficial the more I do it.”
If you’re up for the challenge, Mindfulness Meditation meets every Monday from 3:30-5 p.m. in Building 2, room 2012. Students should bring a towel or a yoga mat.