By Kirsten LaBarge, Master in Management Candidate – September 2014, Digital Business
Every week, Campus Life sends out a newsletter letting you know the activities going on during the coming weeks. There’s always a section in it highlighting the usual weekly activities and events, such as dance, yoga, or meditation for all levels. I’ve always heard good things about meditation, including some pretty strong statements from some rather successful people.
“Stress-reduction and mindfulness don’t just make us happier and healthier, they’re a proven competitive advantage for any business… The more hectic, the more challenging our lives, the more we need something… meditation… quiet time in our lives when we can… just connect with ourselves. We all have that place of wisdom, strength, and peace within us… if we can learn to visit it more often… we will truly transform our lives.” Arianna Huffington – President, The Huffington Post
“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes things worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things — that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more.” Steve Jobs – Apple Co-Founder, Visionary
So, in an attempt to be happier, healthier, and better at business like my friend Arianna, I decided to give meditation a go. The meditation session is held every Thursday morning at 7:55 in Area 31. When I first arrived at 7:50, it was just me and the instructor. While I usually hate showing up first, it turned out not to be that painful as I got a chance to receive some useful starter tips and also discover that the instructor was a fellow Midwesterner. She told me the session is usually a small group of around three people or so, and they come from all areas of IE, including faculty. I imagine the early start time helps keep it at a manageable size.
As it was nearly time to get started, I sat on the “grass” of Area 31 with my back up against a crate to get in a comfortable position. From what I gathered, the session was basically about being relaxed and being mindful. You focus on your breathing, stay still in one position, and don’t engage in thoughts. Sounds incredibly simple, but it turns out to be much more difficult than it sounds. To start, keeping still with good posture became a challenge when I noticed my back begin to ache only 5 or 10 minutes in. Second, I found that a new thought popped into my head just about every other minute, no matter how much I wanted to clear my mind. Even with breathing, I always felt it was too shallow or I was focusing too hard on it.
The good thing about having an instructor there, though, is that she can remind you that there’s no good experience or bad experience; you don’t need to try so hard or be upset about doing anything the “wrong way.” So, even though my back hurt throughout the session and it seemed like I had an endless stream of thoughts running through my mind, I still managed to feel refreshed and energized at the end. I even walked out feeling like my posture was a bit better. Unfortunately, the sessions are finished for the rest of the year, but I would highly recommend giving it a try when it starts up again in September. It’s a great way to meet some new people that you would never meet otherwise in a really relaxed environment. Plus, if you keep it up, you may just end up healthier, happier, and a little bit closer to Steve Jobs.
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