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Working from “om”

Try these five meditation styles to ease the mind

Allison Vanderzanden | Lifestyle Editor

Meditation comes in many forms, each with their own desired effect — whether it be better concentration, relaxation or emotional awareness. Even five minutes of meditation per day can help one feel better. Look into these meditation styles and find one that personally works best. 

Mindfulness meditation: Also known as open monitoring, mindfulness meditation involves simply being aware of what is going on without judgement. Thoughts, feelings and senses will arise, but the goal is to observe them for what they are before letting them pass by. Mindfulness meditation reduces stress and anxiety and provides grounding.

Focused meditation: With the goal of increasing concentration and relieving stress, focused mediation involves studying a specific object. Let go of other thoughts and worries to observe and experience all the details of the chosen object: this can be a physical object like a candle, or a sensation like a sound or the breath.

Movement meditation: For those who find it difficult to sit still for very long, movement meditation is a great alternative. No matter how the body is moving — doing yoga, walking or dancing — the goal is to be aware of how the entire body feels in relation to the current moment. Movement meditation improves attention and can provide gratitude for one’s body.

Progressive muscle relaxation: This meditation is my favorite for relaxing. It involves gradually observing the body from the toes to the head, tensing and then relaxing each muscle group one by one. Progressive muscle relaxation is perfect for unwinding before bed and decreasing stress overall.

Self-inquiry meditation: This style is generally for experienced meditators who are looking for inner peace and a deeper understanding of themselves. Self-inquiry asks, “Who am I?” and attempts to discover the inner conscience buried under superficial perceptions, thoughts and emotions.

Meditation is a learned skill; do not feel discouraged if a session did not go perfectly. Make meditation a part of the daily routine and try guided meditations through apps or YouTube videos — soon enough it will bring positive results.

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Addressing anxiety by being in the now

Join the Student Health and Counseling Center for weekly mindfulness meditation sessions

Allison Vanderzanden | Lifestyle Editor

This fall term has brought a new service to Western students through the Student Health and Counseling Center: mindfulness meditation sessions are being held weekly over Zoom by counselors Emily Horak and Bliss Boutin.

Western’s administration requested that the Student Health and Counseling Center create a group in light of common stressors that students were facing, including concerns about COVID-19. Horak and Boutin volunteered to tackle these stressors.

“Mindfulness is something that we’re both really passionate about,” Horak said. “We heard that there was a need to start a group kind of like this, and the two of us volunteered to form it.”

During these mindfulness meditation sessions, students get time in a group setting to process the stress going on in their lives and understand ways of coping with them. Students not only learn about mindfulness, but they also practice mindfulness exercises. Horak and Boutin said they aim to utilize a combination of group counseling and mindfulness.

“With classes being online we’re really wanting it to feel less like a lecture and more interactive,” Horak said. 

She hopes they will achieve this by expanding their group. Students do not need to have prior knowledge or experience with mindfulness to join these sessions. The goal of this mindfulness meditation group is to help any Western students who may be experiencing stress. Horak and Boutin said there is no pressure for prospective students. 

“We just want it to feel very welcoming and inviting, and it’s not meant to feel formal for anyone,” Boutin said.

The mindfulness meditation group meets every Thursday at 3 p.m. until Dec. 10. It is free for students who have paid the fall term health service fee. Contact the Student Health and Counseling Center at 503-838-8313 if interested in joining.

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